Mayan Ruins and Macaws
Copan Travel Blog› entry 37 of 37 › view all entries
I woke up this morning in pretty good shape. Seemingly the hotel's precautions reduced or eliminated the amount of insect bites I got last night, so I'm pretty happy about that. This is my last whole day in Central America, so I figured I would make the best of it. But first, I had to watch the New York hotdog eating contest on tv. Only ESPN Deportes decided not to show it, and the internet feed I found was crappy at best. Even so I was able to follow things, and if you haven't seen it.... yuck!
After that I mustered all of my energy, packed up some things and headed for the local Mayan Ruins. A short tuk-tuk ride later we pulled into the site about 2kms south of town. The admission was pretty steep, $15 for admission, and $15 extra for access to the tunnels.
After the entrance the was a 200 meter walk to the gate, and along the way the trees and ground were populated with a dozen or so beautiful Scarlet Macaws. I have seen them before in pet stores and such, but these were huge and flying free. The sight of them in flight was absolutely gorgeous, and they were mostly unafraid of people. As a former bird owner it was really impressive.
I went through the gate and headed for the temples.
The crowd was a bit light, and that made the huge open plazas seem even larger. The initial area I visited had one low slung temple called Structure 4 that was the centerpiece of the Gran Plaza and the Plaza Central.
Copan also has a fine example of a ball court for the Mayan game 'Pitz'. The court is I-shaped with sloping rock floors on each side, and although Copan's is a bit small, like other things it is in great condition. Next to the ball court, climbing the front of the large Temple 26 is the Hieroglyphic Stairway. The Hieroglyphic Stairway is 72 steps high, and they are made up of 2200 blocks each with old Mayan hieroglyphics on them. Together they make up the longest known Maya hieroglyphic text.
After climbing Temple 11 and ascending the Acropolis I emerged onto the East Court, a small green area. Here I had my ticket checked and entered the Rolalila Tunnel. The tunnel was excavated in recent history because of the Mayan tendency to build temples on top of each other, and they show these well preserved older temples underneath. The tunnel was pretty short, but clearly showed the Rosalila Temple that was covered by Temple 16, the tallest structure in Copan. The Jaguar Tunnel across the East Court was much longer, and showed the older structures under Temples 20 and 21. Pretty amazing stuff that they have been able to successfully dig this stuff out, and worth the extra $15 to get the good view of the building progression of the city.
The rest of the Ruins were nice as I exited past the West Court and climbed down to a surrounding trail. Along this trail unrestored and unexcavated ruins could be seen along the right side. I wonder if future plans call for exploring these as well. More great pictures of Macaws on the way out, and I did happen upon what I think was a Paca on the path out to the ticket office. I just checked online, and am fairly certain it was a Paca. In Guatemala two years ago I ate one of these things in a restaurant, it was called Tepezcuintle and was scrumpcious. It didn't look very appetizing grazing the grounds.
I took a tuk-tuk back to the hotel, and told the drive I was leaving town on the early bus in the morning.
Admission was $10, but I am a bird lover so I hoped for the best. My guide for the visit was Fino, a local teen whose brother is currently living in Ontario, Canada. He had only been speaking English for a year, but had an amazing grasp of it. I can't even begin to describe the variety and beauty of these huge macaws, parrots, toucans, owls and hawks.
I had an iced coffee at the end of the tour, and then took a tuk-tuk back into town. I paid my bill at the hotel, and asked the front desk if I could rely on my driver to get me in the morning. She said it should not be a problem, but last minute arrangements could be made if need be. I went to have some dinner at a place called the Red Toad.
I got back to the room and checked my airline reservation online. Bingo! Another First Class upgrade for the flight to Houston! Now I've just got to wake up by 4am and be ready. Wish me luck again. :)