Moises Rozanes, who runs the run-down Hostal Zocalo in an old building on Merida’s main square, says he once saw a flying saucer and spoke with an extraterrestrial who identified himself as Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec equivalent of the chief Maya god, Kukulkan, the bringer of wisdom.

He “told me the world was going to change, but he didn’t say when,” Rozanes said, recalling the 1997 encounter. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen Dec. 21, but is happy his hotel is getting business. “Everything’s filling up” as far as bookings for the date, he said.

In all the fervor, Mayas rely on an ancestral calm built of good humor, calmness and the fact that it’s too hot to get all worked up about things.

“A lot of people are reading things, and getting scared, about the world ending. But that’s not going to happen,” said Mayan priest Ildefonso Cahuich May. “God is not going to turn around so fast and say, ‘I’m going to kill all my children.’”