23 January, 2006

Captivating Copan Ruinas

(Part 3 of the Volcano Trail series.)

The first "real" day of adventure had come. Today's agenda was to drive 7 hours from Antigua into Copan, Honduras, crossing the border at El Florido. Though Copan was dwarfed in size by the grand Mayan ruins of Tikal with its soaring temples, its strength lay in the ornate stelae and intricate stonework which were the finest in the Mayan world.

The van ride was uneventful. There wasn't much scenery to appreciate, and I doubt if anyone would have anyway, since most were groggy from last night's festivities and silently cursing the early 5am start. Traffic flow was better than expected, and pretty soon we arrived at El Florido where C. collected the passports for validation at both the Guatemalan and Honduran immigration offices. Money changers were soon crowding around our van, and despite some misgivings about getting a raw deal I parted with my leftover quetzales and was soon examining the lempira notes. After a few minutes delay caused by my passport (Honduran authorities had to double check entry requirements), we continued on to Copan.

After a cheap, sumptuous steak lunch, five of us walked the 1km or so towards the ruins. The whole visit took a mere couple of hours - we happened upon different impressive stelae, the ball court, the Hieroglyphic Stairway, and altars. All the while, our local guide Virgilio was telling us fascinating facts about the various kings and their reigns of power over Copan - with very exotic names like Moon Jaguar, Smoke Serpent, Eighteen Rabbit...(Crouching Tiger?!)...you get the idea. All this information, while educational and made all the more so by Virgilio's enthusiasm and "interesting" use of English, proved to be too much to digest - that 430am wakeup call and long travel must've taken a toll - thus towards the end, I simply shut my ears off to the commentary and concentrated on taking pictures. To sum up, a worthwhile visit to one of the most important Mayan ruins.

Stay tuned for more posts from my Central America trip.

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