Clap on, clap off


What is it about (especially American) tourists in Mayan ruins that makes them clap incessantly?  They get informed one time by some guide of dubious quality that great technological prowess in Mayan architecture can be demonstrated by the echo in any given space.  The guide stands to one side of a Mayan ball court and hoots or claps his hands and hears an echo.  Big deal.  As a former architect, I can attest to the fact that despite the truly amazing building of the Mayans, there is nothing at all special about an echo between two large, hard parallel surfaces.  And yet gringo tourists continue to be amazed and pass the rest of the day on any given site enacting a scene from Rain Man or an Oliver Saks book.  I have witnessed this behavior at three separate sites so far, and I have little hope of being spared the clapping game tomorrow as we visit Palenque.


  1. Mom says:

    Only Americans could have invented the Clapper.

  2. scottadams says:

    Hey Stephen, Calatrava called and said you were never an Architect and to fire you immediately.

  3. john says:

    The clapping must have started with a guide many years ago and continues as tradition. I have to say at Le Thoronet- it is amazing to sing a single note and hear the reverb- enjoyable reading. Your New Museum Friend