Because there are six of us in the same situation---well, technically five as Terry (Niki Wiki) just came back from the States but still wants to come along for the fun of it, we’ve rented a van and driver recommended by Marco (Mario’s Marina). At $50US return per person Otilio will take Terry & Jonesy (Niki Wiki), Michelle & Vern (Enchantment) and ourselves to Copan Ruinas and then 72 hours later he will come back and pick us up. Pretty darn good service.So with an early start we’re on our way for what we think will be a two and a half hour trip which turned out to be 4 hours. With all the recent rains the road was washed out in numerous spots making for quite a long bumpy ride.
Crossing the border at El Florido took approximately 15 minutes total---very easy and straight forward.. What was not easy was paying for our room at Hotel Graditas Maya by Visa. Finding an ATM bank machine that worked also turned into a challenge but finally we found one that worked and were on our way.
The travel guides state modern times have arrived in Copan Ruinas but not without a few glitches. After two days we finally found an internet cafe that actually worked at the Via Via Café and Hostel so we could confirm debit/visa card withdrawals were accurate.
Each evening we enjoyed the view and our Happy Hour up on the roof top patio with our traveling companions.
Copan Ruinas is home to the Honduran Maya Ruins; thought to be the most artistically advanced and elaborate of all the Maya ruins in Central America. It is believed people have lived in the Copan valley since 1200BC.
On the short one kilometre walk
where we were entertained by practicing band students.
The initial entrance fee to the park is $15US per person. We all agreed we’d benefit from an English speaking Tour Guide.
Fidel was our guide. For an additional cost of $23.75US plus tips we hired him for 2 hours. He was so well informed and passionate about the Maya history he ended up spending four hours with us. This pic is of a young thorny Ceiba tree.
These stelae are dated AD731
Fidel interpreting the glyph.
The Ball Court was rebuilt four times over a 300 year span.The sidewalls resemble macaw heads
The Hieroglyphic Stairway AD 735.This is the longest known glyphs left by the ancient Maya ruler #15- Smoke Shell. These 63 steps with 2000 hieroglyphics tell the story of the Maya king lineage from YAX-KUK-MO AD 426 to Smoke Shell.
Unfortunately years ago the stairway fell over making it very difficult for the archaeologists to understand the complete story as they were not sure where to re- insert each glyph.Due to further erosion a huge tarp is now covering the stairway.
Alter Q- has also been deciphered and depicts all 16 members of the Copan Dynasty in chronological order.
What we also learnt was over time temples from previous dynasties were destroyed with the new ruler building his temples on top of previous rulers.
The proof of this is in temples found underground by archaeologists. One such temple is the Rosa Lila Temple (Temple of the Sun). In the Museum of Sculpture we saw the full scale replica. It is amazing as the original temple was found under structure 16 totally in tact.
Looking towards the Royal Residences known as “El Cementerio”. There were over 25 buildings here, built around rectangular patios. Many human skeletons were found here as it was common practice to be buried next to ones home.
After hiking up and down the ruins we were all quite ready for a rest back at the hotel before heading out for a delicious dinner at Carnitas Nia Lola.
where the “Entertainment” was our servers who carried food and drink on top of their heads. What a fun night.
And our 72 hours are up so it's time to head back to Guatemala. Copan Ruinas with its sloping cobblestone streets and colourful adobe buildings was quite enchanting as were the Ruins. Of course it is a tourist stop with lots of souvenir shops but we totally enjoyed ourselves and highly recommend it as a place that should be experienced.