Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Feb 13, 2003.-- Honduras; only 3 months away from the 4 year mark

Credit to first Encounter with the Mayan world: The Copan Ruins

-- Story by Erin --

Tues, Feb. 11th: Left Gracias and headed for Copan Ruinas, our first encounter with the Maya world. The road out of Gracias was newly paved, and had wonderful big sweeping curves, no traffic and beautiful mountain scenery. We basically had this all the way, some 130 Kms to Copan. We arrived fairly early in the afternoon and had the luxury of browsing around for a cheap hostel. We found one, with a nice courtyard, very basic small room ($5) with only 2 twin beds, but very clean. As it happened, our friend John was in town, just a few doors down at another hostel, together with his brother and a friend who were visiting from Germany.

That afternoon, we spent swapping info on places to see and places we’re heading while sipping refreshing Cuba Libres (rum and coke) in our garden.

Wed, Feb. 12th: Said goodbye early to John and his traveling mates as they were headed for Guatemala. We wanted to visit the ruins early as it gets quite hot during the day. The ruins are actually only a nice kilometer walk from our hostel, passing a few interesting Maya ruins, called stelae, along the side of the road. At the entrance we reviewed our various options of activities and the prices: $10US/pp entrance to the ruins, $12US/pp for entrance to the newly opened tunnels dug under the ruins, and $5US/pp for entrance to the new sculpture museum. We decided to skip the tunnels (outrageous price we thought), and did the ruins and the museum. Everyone told us to do the museum first to get an idea what it must have looked like in its heyday, or at least when the first archeologists found it. We did and it was quite impressive indeed. Many of the highly artistic carvings found at the site were moved here to protect them from further deterioration from the elements. Replicas have been made by local artisans and placed at the site. The most impressive item in the museum is the life-size replica of the Rosalila temple, which was discovered under on the larger pyramids, completely intact and with the original paint still in place.

Outside on the path to the ruins we were quickly approached by a few guides, Chris negotiated with one female guide for $10 for 2 hours (down from the normal price of $20 which they normally get for a group). Her English was not so good but she did a good job trying. Whey she got stuck she could usually get her point across to us in Spanish. As compensation for her effort, we endeavored to ask all of our questions in Spanish.

The whole place is basically one big temple complex, the normal citizens lived a few kilometers away in basic stone dwellings. The Mayas had great skill in astronomy, agriculture and art, and art is especially what this site is known for. The art depicted here is mostly representative of the former kings and their dynasties, and things that exemplified what was important to them, like animals, nature, sea creatures, etc. They made extensive use of stucco, a substance harder than concrete we were told, to cover their buildings, pave the floors of the temples and their homes, and also to pave important pathways too and from the temples themselves. They also used many different colors, derived from plants and insects, to paint their important buildings. Most of the site dates back over 2,000 years.

By early afternoon we were fairly tired from the heat, walking around the ruins, and were quite hungry. So, we left to go back to town.

Thurs, Feb. 13th: As Copan is a lovely city in its own right, we decided to stay an extra day and look around a bit. It is small but its colonial architecture is very well restored and maintained. It is set in lush green hills with a pleasant climate. There is a nice plaza with stone replica sculptures from the site and a simple but elegant church. The rest of the town is dedicated to tourism with loads of restaurants, shops and tour agencies. In the early afternoon, we took our entrance ticket from the ruins, to another site down the road where there is another related site of the stone homes the Maya people lived in and the elegant home of the scribes, with more detailed carvings.


The Rosalila Temple -- A life-size replica of the original

Description of above

An artist's rendering of what the temple looked like when it was first discovered by archeologists

A print in the museum, depicting a typical sacrifice to the gods

One of the original carved figures

Ornamental Figures

The site of the Copan Ruins

Hieroglyphic stairway is to the right, protected from sun/rain by a large tarp.

A Stelae -- This of one of the Great Kings: 18 Rabbits

A stelae records significant events in the King's history

Stone stairway of glyphs -- A massive set of stairs stretching up the side of a temple.   The project was originally undertaken by the last king (#16) -- realizing their dynasty was failing, he wanted to produce a record/history.  Unfortunately, the stones all collapsed, and archeologists are unable to understand and therefore unable to reconstruct in the proper order.


Our guide, Andrea, in front of a re-constructed wall

The stones were found scattered on the ground, and re-assembled.

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