To beat the expected heat of the day we headed to the Copa’n ruins at 8 AM. The Copa’n Valley is warm, moist and semi tropical. As we walked down the tree lined path to the ruins, we were greeted with the calls of colorful macaws high in the overhead trees. OAT “Overseas Adventure Travel, our tour group” had arrange for a local guide to take us through the ruins. The size, construction and intricate detail of the ruins was amazing. There are reams of books trying to describe and explain the Mayan culture but none does it justice till you see it. We first visited the great plaza with its stelae and altars which are about the size of four football fields. Each stelae, which looks to the untrained eye as just an excellent piece of art, is a history lesson. With the right interpreter one could spend a day deciphering its meaning. We then visited the ball court. The Copa’n Ruins boasts the most artistic ball courts in Meso-America. Unique to this one are the markers on the sidewalls, resembling macaw heads.
The highlight was the Hieroglyphic Stairway, a long wide stairway with the longest know text left to us by the ancient Maya. It was impressive. It is believed to be a lineage tree, recording the ascension and death of all Copan rulers from Yaz-Kuk-Mo to Smoke-Shell 15 in all. Even now over 1400 years old it is impressive. It must have been spectacular when built. Next we went up to the Acropolis divided into two big plazas: The west court and the east court. In one was Temple 11 built during the reign of Yaz-Pac. This very elaborate temple was meant to be his portal to the next world. Now it is only a day later and I cannot remember much of the enormous amount of information we received.
After lunch at a local restaurant in the town of Copa’n we took a horseback ride up to a small Mayan village located on a mountain side above the valley. It was not a long ride but it did get us into the country and away from civilization the way we know it. The inhabitance have a different facial look than the natives of Copa’n City - higher and rounder check bones for one. OAT works hard to infuse money into this small village and to teach them not to beg. The women have been shown how to make a cute doll out of corn husks and the children are able to sell them to visitors. We were encouraged to spend time with the children then watch how the dolls were made. The children then entertained us by singing their national anthem in their Mayan language. Our tour leader is trying to teach the children that we will buy at the end rather than when we first arrive, so we could now dicker with the children for their dolls. The ride back down the mountain and along the river at sunset was a pleasant way to end the day.