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Spanish illustrator Jaume Montserrat has recently shared via email his new series titled, “Emptyland.” His pen drawings all have a “ribbon effect” that relate to a “void” of each animal. To understand this better, we have to travel back in time. While on a flight back home from South America to Spain—Montserrat falls asleep and imagines waking up on an island where he lives for 29 days with other animals. He explains: “On this island, there was only one animal from each specimen [kind of like Noah’s Ark]. All of them were empty, asexual and immortal. They didn’t need to hunt, nor were they scared of being hunted—so there was a perfect symbiosis.” He and the wildlife lived free from worries, and that empty paradise is what sparked these images.

Iguana and giraffe Ribbon flamingo by Jaume Montserrat

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The Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff, Wales, is exhibiting work from Sebastian Liste’s “Urban Quilombo” series, beginning tomorrow through June 23. There will be an opening tomorrow at 7pm. Visit the gallery’s Web site for more information.

Sebastian, who is represented by Reportage by Getty Images, is a Spanish photographer now living in Brazil. In 2010, while he was earning a Master’s degree in photojournalism at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, he won the Ian Parry Scholarship for his long-term project ‘Urban Quilombo’, about the extreme living conditions that dozens of families face, who set up home in an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.

Caption: A boy jumping from a building of an abandoned chocolate factory, on March 20, 2011, in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. (Photo by Sebastian Liste/Reportage by Getty Images)

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It is 6 p.m., and darkness has just fallen on the Lacandon jungle, a dense patch of rainforest in Mexico’s southernmost state, Chiapas. A cry rings out: “Food circle!” At this signal, hundreds of people emerge from the forest and gather in a clearing, forming a circle, holding hands. They start to chant, softly, “Om … Om …” while lifting their joined hands toward the sky. The chanting stops as suddenly as it began, and a vegan dinner is served from huge steaming pots.

These men and women, who travelled to this spot in the vicinity of Palenque’s pre-Colombian ruins from dozens of different countries around the globe, are here with one aim in mind: to witness the end of the world on December 21, 2012, a date that marks the end of the Mayan calendar. They are part of the “rainbow movement,” a post-hippie collective that emerged in Oregon in 1970 around the teachings of writer Barry Adams and gemstone specialist Garrick Beck. Its members gather annually across the U.S. on July 4th.

Most expect they won’t be around for next summer’s gathering.

There are no leaders in the movement. “All decisions are taken 100 percent consensually by talking circles,” explains Bolivia, a 32-year-old Briton. The camp functions without money: food is prepared by a group of volunteers and handed out for free. Other necessities can be bartered. Trading currencies include sweets, crystals or Snicker bars. Alcohol, meat and loudspeakers are forbidden.

Rainbow Gathering attendees, who call themselves The Family, spend their days bathing naked in the river, doing improvisational theater, juggling or practicing yoga. Twice a day they gather for the food circle. Most live in the manner they do in hopes of showing the rest of the world that an alternative way of life — “without wars, guns or money,” as Bolivia puts it — is possible. Among Family members there is a lot of talk of chakras, inverted pyramids and “portals” that will open on December 21st.

The end of the Mayan world, meanwhile, is a much more down-to-earth affair. It is taking place roughly 100 miles from where the Family is gathered, in a small village called Lacanja Chansayab that houses the last descendants of a civilization that dominated Mesoamerica from roughly 250 to 900 AD. There are fewer than a thousand Maya left. They speak a language, Hach T’ana, that closely resembles that of their ancestors. They wear their hair long, don white tunics, hunt with bows and arrows and revere their gods by burning rubber dolls in ceremonies that symbolize human sacrifice.

Or, at least, they did until recently. The Lacandon Indians emigrated from the Yucatan peninsula in the 18th century to flee the conquistadors, and remained there almost untouched until the middle of the 20th century, when loggers and archeologists started to arrive in the area. The erosion of their culture accelerated in 1998, with the opening of the road from Palenque. Electricity followed shortly after, in 2000.

As we pull into the village on a sunny day in December, change is apparent everywhere. A truck is unloading a fridge, a washing machine and a TV. Music blares from the loudspeakers of the Refugio de Esperanza, the Pentecostal church that set up shop here 13 years ago.

“The hardest thing for me was learning to wear shoes,” remembers 53-year-old Chan K’in.

But modernity also brought with it more serious woes: “A lot of the kids leave the village to attend secondary school in nearby towns,” explains 26-year-old Victorino. “When they are away from their family, with no one to watch over them, they often start taking drugs.” Lacanja Chansayab lies just a few miles from the border with Guatemala, along one of the main cocaine routes.

But what really disrupted village life was the advent of money. In 2004, the Mexican tourism authority decided to sponsor ecotourism infrastructures in the village, in part to ensure Lacandon loyalty in the face of the 1994 Zapatista rebellion in neighboring communities.

“We gave 550,000 pesos (43,200 dollars) to eleven families to build three cabañas each,” says Alberto Morales Cleveland, the local tourism representative.

Other families had to manage without that help. “The head of the village shared the subsidies among his friends and the community is now split between those who received money and those who didn’t,” sighs Martin, who operates an independent eco-lodge.

“I don’t believe December 21st will be the end of the world. But for us, life as we knew it has certainly come to an end,” laments his brother, Ismael.

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Mayra’s transformation from housewife to witch is dramatic. Others had spoken to me about her but I didn’t believe them, so I had to see for myself.

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Please see the latest update (12/4) on this fast-moving story here: Fugitive Software Guru John McAfee Seeks ‘Asylum’ in Guatemala, Claims He’ll Be Killed in Belize Update 12/3 10:30 a.m. EST: In a posting on his website, John McAfee (or someone writing under his name) claims that the fugitive software pioneer has fled Belize and is now safely outside the country “in the company of two intrepid journalist[s] from Vice Magazine, and, of course, Sam.” (Sam is the young woman McAfee has been hiding out with.) McAfee claims to have dispatched a body double carrying a North Korean passport under his name, who was briefly detained in Mexico, before being released. “I left Belize because of a series of events which led both Sam and I to believe that she was in danger of capture,” McAfee writes. He also suggests, as he has in the past, that the entire episode is the result of his one-man crusade to battle corruption in Belize. I’ll update the story as more details become available. Three weeks ago, police in the small Central American country of Belize discovered U.S. software mogul John McAfee’s neighbor, 52-year old American businessman Gregory Faull, lying dead in a pool of blood with a 9-mm. bullet wound to the head. Just days earlier, authorities had been summoned to McAfee’s beachfront home after the eccentric software millionaire shot four of his own dogs, in order, he claimed, to put them out of their misery after they had been poisoned by unknown assailants. Belizean authorities insist they only want to question McAfee about the murder — he hasn’t been charged with a crime. But rather than submit to questioning, the 67-year-old McAfee freaked out and declared that he would be killed if taken into custody by Belizean authorities. That, apparently, is why McAfee has decided to lead Belizean authorities, not to mention the international press corps, on a rapidly escalating wild goose chase that keeps getting weirder by the day. Reached by phone, a spokesman for McAfee claimed not to know where his client was, but acknowledged that McAfee is on the run.

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In a country where "everything bears his name", the currency, plazas, schools, and political speeches, among others, the Father of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela finally has a tomb in line with...

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The last time I was in Colombia’s Meta Province was to photograph 35 body bags containing the remains of rebels killed in clashes with the Army. This time, what brought me to Meta was the Joropera...

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