Copan Ruins in Honduras

sculpture in Copan
sculpture in Copan (View on flickr)

Our first stop in Honduras (and one of the reasons we chose the route we did) was the famous Mayan ruins of Copan. We dragged in at the end of another 3-day stretch of riding these mountains (about the best we've been able to do before resting at least a day). Nancy was sick with some kind of stomach thing and we were both finishing off colds. (All of these ailments are long gone now, thankfully.)

So we weren't at our best the next morning when we went to the ruins. We spent the entire morning there, and hired an English-language guide to explain it all. But we were all the time just feeling like we wanted to be in bed or getting something to eat, which is not what you want when you're at one of the world's most famous and important archaeological sites.

Stela at Copan Ruins
Stela at Copan Ruins (View on flickr)

Despite our sorry state, we really appreciated the artistic beauty of the place. We've been to several other Meso-American ruins, and the beauty of the stelae (tall stones that tell a story) and other engravings was just off the chart. Somehow they really developed a much more artistic way of doing all the hieroglyphic writing here.
The environs are beautiful green luxuriant growth, like at Palenque, but the structures are considerably smaller.

Probably the most significant thing we've taken away from Copan was the enormous connectedness of the ancient Mesoamerican world. It turns out that Copan's first ruler came here from Teotihuacan in the second or third century of this era. Well, we visited Teotihuacan probably 10 months ago just north of Mexico City, and the thought that these two places that seem so distant to us were so connected is astonishing.

copan ruins where the upper class lived
copan ruins where the upper class lived (View on flickr)

The visit also made us cherish the string of archaelogical treasures that we've been able to visit on the ride - Tula, Teotihuacan, the Plaza Mayor, Monte Alban, Palenque, Copan, and several smaller ones. For the first time we have at least a rudimentary understanding of what they were, when they were, and how they were related. So often sites like this are just a splendor of visions and artifacts, but you can't sort them out in the end, and we seem to have gotten one step beyond that on this trip. Still ahead of us is Macchu Picchu, but that is quite a ways yet.

two macaws talking
two macaws talking (View on flickr)

At Copan we also visited the very nicely done Macaw Mountain, which is set up as a tropical bird park, but is actually an outstanding pet rescue operation. They accept unwanted parrots and macaws and all sorts of birds from all over the place and have them set up in the nicest enclosures you'll find anywhere. We spent hours wandering the park and enjoying the butterflies, including the famous Blue Morpho, that we found there.

Lightening our Load
We're notorious for carrying to much stuff, and somebody at the the hotel in Copan Ruinas must have wanted to help us out. The maid or somebody got deep into our stuff and found our cash stashes and lightened them, got Nancy's nice earrings, and my camera was gone too. It's surprising and a little irritating that we could be cleaned out so well, especially by such seemingly nice people. Being rich gringos, such an event is discouraging but not devastating, but it niggles at you when you're the trusting sort. We're acting less trusting when staying at hotels now... Our confidence is just a little shaken. And we'll have to improve our routine a bit. (I do have to add that we let the management know about the problem, and they responded by investigating it, and even offered to reimburse us partially. We did not ask them to do that, but it was certainly a show of good faith.)