Part III : Day 31 : Antiqua to Copán Ruinas

A 5am start for the new group heading across the border to Honduras and the town of Copán Ruinas. In addition to Pat and Miriam, Claire and Jenny, Matt, Angie, Keryn and myself we now have; Cecylia from Canada, Richard from England, Leah and Dylan from NZ, Peiter and Andreas from Sweden and Stephan from Germany. One other person, Aaron, hasn’t turned up so hopefully he’ll catch us somewhere along our route.

The travelling was easy with us all in a spacious van. The only slight worry was the increase is slips on the road – we haven’t had a slip stop us for any long length of time yet but it will happen if the rain keeps up. The border crossing was simple, Josh taking all our passports and border fees so we didn’t have to do anything other than wait around and change a bit of money.

We arrived ahead of schedule to our hotel in Copan Ruinas and had a bit of time to wander around and grab a bite to eat. The town was without both power and running water when we arrived, perhaps an indication of the state of the infrastructure in Honduras. Most met back at the hotel around 12:30pm for a quick briefing from Josh and then we headed off on the short walk to the Copán ruins.

Generally the Mayan ruins we visit are known for a particular feature. At Copán this characteristic is the many intricate carvings still largely intact that are spread over the excavated area. In common with other sites we’ve visited only a proportion of the city has been restored from the covering jungle, about 17% I think it was. The guide informed us that it is estimated it would take another 500 years or so to do a complete excavation.

A Scarlett Macaw at the entrance to Copán.
A Scarlett Macaw at the entrance to Copán

At the site gate a number of scarlet macaws were hanging around; they get fed by the staff and spend the night in cages but during the day can fly around and pose for the tourists. Macaws are loud, it seems strange that such a pretty bird has such a raucous, annoying call. We duly spent time taking photos as the birds preened and moved about the wire fence that seemed to be the preferred perch.

An example of the detailed carving on a stela.
An example of the detailed carving

A view to the hills.
A view to the hills

Once we’d had our fill of colourful birds it was into the site and our guide took us on a relaxed tour of the main structures, giving history and pointing out the major features. Copán is situated next to a river and is in the river valley, the surrounding countryside was verdant and hilly. The carved reliefs, whether on stelae (single standing stones, tall and narrow) or on the face of pyramids and buildings, were all highly detailed if suffering from the centuries of exposure to the elements. The site was nearly devoid of tourists, we saw no more than a dozen other people in the few hours we spent wandering around. This is probably due to the fact that there isn’t a major tourist hub nearby, it’s the rainy season and it was a Monday.

The ceiba tree, sacred to the Mayan.
The ceiba tree, sacred to the Mayan

A face carved into the stone.
A face carved into the stone

Detail from the door frames at Temple 22.
Detail from the door frames at Temple 22

The Copán ruins were not as large as some we had seen but they were very interesting and the pleasant shady setting, lack of other people and also the absence of oppressive heat meant this was one of our more enjoyable Mayan site visits. We wandered out of the site chatting with Richard, stopping to take more photos of the ever louder macaws and then headed back to the Hotel. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing before showering to get ready for dinner (water and power now restored).

Looking down to the central plaza.
Looking down to the central plaza

Carving at the foot of a stela.
Carving at the foot of a stela

Honduras is a poorer country than any we had so far visited and this was reflected in the price of dinner which was noticeably cheaper than recent meals. The food was good, Keryn and I heading back for an early night just as the night rains started. During the night we were woken by people talking outside and this turned out to be Aaron arriving so we are now a full group of eighteen. Finally, because I took lots (and lots) of macaw photos, here are a few more:

Posing for the photographer.
Posing for the photographer

Not just scarlet.
Not just scarlet

A classic portrait.
A classic portrait

And then, because it made me smile, a photo for one of my sisters:

Hotel Patty only serves vegetarian food and is currently being renovated.
Hotel Patty only serves vegetarian food and is currently being renovated

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