Crystal blue water, imposing stone temples, and endless beaches paint the coastline of Tulum, Mexico. This post-classic Mayan site is a modern-day tourist destination where visitors can experience a part of the idyllic lifestyle of long ago. 

Tulum also serves as the dream site of archeologists piecing together the past as each discovered artifact reveals more secrets. However, one aspect of this site has always been puzzling: The Mayas eventually disappeared, yet, according to records, right before their end they started building walls around their temples for the first time. And no one quite knows why they did so. Maybe a newfound tradition? Maybe warfare with an ally they had a falling out with? But there’s another theory that I believe; it was because of viruses. 

Strange people come to your land and suddenly, for no perceptible reason, thousands get the symptoms of evil spirits. Heat, pain, death. In sheer terror, what else could they do but desperately erect walls, because walls keep out the dangerous enemies that cause death? Obviously, it didn’t work, and in hindsight, it seems silly. But we are left with monuments attesting to this feeling of terror. And I don’t think we ever stopped creating monuments to terror, especially now.

Recently, there has been a Doom Boom as the market for personal bunkers has exploded with customers “preparing for the end times.” Throughout the past century, the United States government has constructed tens of thousands of governmental and military bunkers around the world. However, many of the massive, underground, concrete structures are relics of previous conflicts extending back to WWII and have been sitting empty for decades.

So, some especially entrepreneurial figures have seized upon the opportunity and commercialized surviving the apocalypse. 

Drive out to the middle of Kansas, enter through the massive blast doors, and you will be at Survival Condo, one of the world’s most high-class bunker complexes. In 2008, Larry Hall purchased this vertical nuclear missile silo. Initially, it was flooded with decades of agricultural runoff, but after pumping it out and 20 million dollars later Hall achieved every doomsdayer’s dream.

The facility contains a shooting range, decontamination rooms, three armories, volcanic ash remover, reserve osmosis water filter, and a remote-controlled .223 rifle with an automatic sentry mode mounted on the top of the facility to defend the bunker. It also boasts at least two armored vehicles including a Pit-Bull VX tactical truck (commonly used by SWAT teams). 

Besides years of stockpiled food, Larry even hired a psychologist during construction to educate him on how to keep people from going nuts and hurting each other after months or years of living inside. The result was a gym, yoga studio, climbing wall, swimming pool, and a fully stocked bar. 

However, the price tag to get your own apartment in this 15-story underground skyscraper isn’t forgiving. You will have to put up 1.5 million dollars for a basic unit or three million for the fancier one. 

But, if you are looking for something more affordable you can take a tour of the Vivos compound. Robert Vicino’s Vivos xPoint offers a 99-year lease for $1,000 a month with a $25,000 down payment upfront, and in return, you get a bunker that can comfortably accommodate an astounding 24 people. Although, you will have to be the one to install the plumbing, electricity, and air filtration. 

Formerly an Army Base in South Dakota, the bunker field is another one of the properties the government was happy to part with. It was used in WWII to store a busload of munitions, safe from enemy bombs. And most of the middle-class, full- or part-time residents, express peace of mind in knowing that whatever catastrophe occurs they will be able to retreat to the bunker and possibly one day be part of the community that rebuilds humanity.

Maybe groups of survivors from the bunkers will drive through barren cities in their SWAT vehicles, guns blazing amidst hordes of zombies, to get the needed supplies for their own survival. 

One thing is for sure though, just like the ancient walls of the Mayans or the giant bunkers that look like robot heads on the beaches of Normandy our modern civilization is making structures that will last thousands of years. So whoever, be they humans or otherwise, explores the artifacts of long-lost civilizations in the future, will likely find our bunkers as a memorial to our fear of the end. But, I am certain that it will take more than a virus, war, or natural disaster to wipe out the grit of humanity to rebuild and thrive again.

For more information check out Bradley Garret’s fantastic book Bunker: Building For The End Times.