First doomsday, now this.
All things Mayan have been heating up in the travel world, as predictions of astrological apocalypses lure tourists. But think twice about bringing back the "latest" ancient Mayan fashion statement to the United States: Bling that melds instant glue, a tenebrionid beetle, jewelry, and a marked insensitivity to creepy-crawlies on your bosom isn't welcome on this side of the border.
The maquech brooch, a concept attributed to the Mayas and now popular among some hardcore Mexican ladies, pins a live critter to one's lapel. The leashed beetle then crawls about, evoking images of chained slaves or Princess Leia chained by Jabba the Hutt.
The AP video on the buggers has gone viral, although crackdown on the blinged beetles has been an ongoing one and falls under U.S. Department of Agriculture laws against illegally importing plants and animals from other countries. That hasn't stopped jewelry hounds from trying to pull a fast one at the border over the years. An incident was reported in 2010 at the Mexico-Texas checkpoint, but beetle-eyed inspectors recognized a pest when they saw one. And the brooch bugs out animal activists. "Beetles may not be as cute and cuddly as puppies and kittens, but they have the same capacity to feel pain and suffer," said a PETA spokesperson at the time.
The origin of this "pet concept" was explained by an American travel writer back in 1990. "I learned that the creature is called a maquech in the Maya language," wrote Randall Peffer. "The Indians catch them and decorate them in the belief that such a bejeweled insect worn over the heart will be a totem for the soul of a lost loved one. This maquech had been named I'xtabai after a famous Maya phantom that appears as a beautiful woman to seduce men to their doom in the depths of the jungle."
For a list of other cross-border no-noes, check the Prohibited and Restricted Items listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. States also have their own restrictions, so be sure to check those as well. For fashion no-noes, you're going to have to check someplace else.
First doomsday, now this.
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