Sunday, March 06, 2011

Honduras8--the ruins of Copan

Last night was our last in Roatan. There was all you can drink rum punch and a fire dancer. I'm not sure those should be mixed, and yet they were. We avoided the rum, but enjoyed the flames.

This morning I woke at 4:30am. Does that count as morning? I suppose. Everyone else is still sleeping since they are all taking an international flight at a more reasonable 11am. Brad and I are going to the main-land. Our flight departs at 6:40am and we have a quick boat trip and 20 minutes on the road first.

The airport is sluggish, but they still manage to insist on searching Brad's luggage and opening a box he has a highly breakable object stashed within. I think everyone at the airport feels safer now.
That's a smaller plane than I am used to. This is going to be... interesting. I know, it's no Twin Otter or anything, but still... the pilot's controls are labeled in Russian.
Two planes later we have been picked up by a guide who will escort us during our 3hr drive to the city of Copan Ruinas in Copan District where we will begin our tour of the Copan Ruins. Yeah, I know, it sounds kind of flaky when you string them together like that, but that's how the guide did it...

Anyone who looks at all the photos on Picasa Web may notice poor quality photos through this section. I submit that they are pretty good when you consider that I am taking them while being driven 60km/h through dirty tinted glass on very bad roads (and that is by northern Saskatchewan standards). The ride is fascinating. Our guide really seems to know his stuff. He throws in interesting facts about coffee production, Mayan civilization and Honduran politics to help pass the time. Speaking of time. If you have any questions about public bathrooms in Honduras... don't ask. Even in the international airport... yeah, don't ask.

We have a tense moment when we are stopped by the police. Another passenger in our van does not produce his passport on demand and a tense argument takes place. He maintains (and rightly so) that he only needs to provide ID (his driver's license in this case) and not a passport since the officer is not an immigration official. For an brief moment I believe our entourage is going to be reduced by one individual. We are allowed to proceed only after Brad and I produce our passports to prevent the officer from losing face.
There is coffee drying everywhere!
Part of a "house" and a burial chamber below
Today we get to visit the part of the ruins where the noble cast lived with their families. Among others, the site is strewn with acacia trees, mahogany and yucca. This is the kind of forest I've been waiting for. Woody vines and roots hang from the trees and spiny plants growing up in the canopy. I want to start climbing the trees, but I want to be respectful of the site and I fear Miguel (our guide) would be displeased. He also gently reminds me that the piece of obsidian that I've just picked up --the area was once volcanic-- can be admired and then replaced. This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (911 and counting). Taking that into consideration, it was nice that I am allowed to climb on anything without a prohibitive sign. I feel a twinge of disappointment because the only alter in this area is roped off. You may infer, as did I, that Brad will not be taking the picture of me being offered to Ah Muzencab, god of bees.
The head is missing. I think it's at our hotel. No, REALLY!
Tomorrow, I get to see the main site. The religious hub. Temples, sacrifices... can't wait.

Hotel Marina Copan. I can't believe I'm staying at this place. I've told Wendy that it is certainly the nicest hotel I will ever stay in during my entire life. Seriously, I don't know how we wound up here. The internet reviews are polite but completely understated.

 It is out of this world beautiful. And not in a polished chrome and braided-jacket-bellhop sort of way. It has a refined class mixed with well aged construction that can't be faked. A half-dozen or more court-yards and dozens of open-air rooms are to dying to be visited in this maze of hallways, staircases and nooks arranged with antique instruments. It was the first hotel in Copan. A converted house, originally, but what a house it must have been. I have a ton of pictures of this place, but I'm likely to take more tomorrow.
I can't turn down a good sunset. I just can't.
Anyone who missed my clever insertion of the link earlier may click this link to view the entire album. It's getting juicy-big now.