Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Honduras - Fin

We are getting an early start at the ruins this morning. First a fantastic breakfast of assorted fruit, scones, waffles, spiced compote, coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
We are one of the first groups to arrive. There are 5 members for this guided portion. Jim, a retired educator living in Quebec, was with us yesterday. Dave and Nancy join us this morning. Coincidentally, they were just at the Cocoview in Roatan. I recall briefly seeing them, though they dove from a different boat.
The ruins of the religious area are unreal. They dwarf the dwellings of the upper caste that we saw yesterday. Again, sensitive areas are roped off, but I am impressed with how much we are able to touch and climb. Midway through our walk, Brad and I even get to scramble down into an empty tomb.
View from within a tomb
As much as I like to wander, I am struck by how much a good guide adds to the experience. Miguel is well studied in the Mayan culture and his knowledge of their culture and glyphs reveals a wealth of information about the countless statues and engravings that we see.
Fangs of the Serpent. The entrance to the underworld of Xibalba.
Afterwards, we go through the adjacent museum. It has some replica pieces in addition to many large pieces of stonework that were moved in to protect them from further erosion. What is there is nice, but the museum is sparse and lacks anything beyond stone. There is no pottery, no obsidian tools or jade-work --nothing to help contextualize what we are seeing.
Replica of Rosalilia - built atop 5 previous shrines and in turn covered by a step pyramid
I spend the afternoon with my feet kicked up on our hotel balcony drinking fine local coffee and watching the world as it seems to stand still.
Yes, I meant that literally!
In the late afternoon, we go for a walk outside the tourist-laden area that dominates the center of Copan. I won't say we got lost. The roads just didn't lead where I thought they would. We make it back to our hotel just as it's becoming uncomfortably dark. This day is a perfect combination of things I love to add an exclamation to my last full day in Honduras.
I fall asleep early watching The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (with Spanish subtitles). I get up at first light to take last walk through the hotel. Even though we are running a bit late after breakfast, Miguel indulges us with a road-side stop at a local coffee producer. Brad is elated when they are willing to sell him unroasted beans (they think he's a bit crazy).
I'm sleeping over (sleep, if only) in the Atlanta airport again. I'm facing North this time and tomorrow afternoon should see me back in Saskatoon. The weather forecast indicates that I have missed the absolutely horrific temperatures you suffered during my sojourn. Mission accomplished.
Police Escort?!?
The photo album for this trip is finished. My counter indicates I took over 4000 exposures during this 1 1/2 weeks (if I include a score of iPhone snaps). I'll be tweaking the album in weeks to come, but these 503 pictures are a pretty good survey of the trip. I apologize for the hundreds of pictures of the Mayan ruins and sculpture. In the long run I won't keep them all, but for now, I just can't part with them.