Guatemala and Belize 14 Jan - 24 Feb 2015 travel blog

Gold Oriole feeding at Mayan site

Single sided (early) sculpture

Later period - double-sided sculpture

Turtle offering stone

Hierglyph staircase with 5 sculptures for 5 dynasties

General view of part of site with staircase on left covered by...

Old Man's head

A pair of red Macaw

A pair of green Macaw

A Toucan

An Owl

River valley

Breakfast was pretty meagre but who notices at 7am! We went to the ruins on foot which was welcome after yesterday's long bus ride even if grey and misty. Our guide was splendid and took her time explaining things around the site. The Mayans may have arrived from the much larger Tikal site which we shall visit in a couple of days but the group in Copan became very successful in terms on agriculture and procreating which was their downfall when the population grew too high to sustain. There were 5 kings - mainly around 500 ad and onwards and the most successful was Eighteen Rabbit who built a lot of the temples on the site and made the community prosperous.

The carved stelae are unique in Mayan culture being high relief and very intricate and this is the main importance now of Copan. The hierglyphic staircase is another rarity - 63 steps all carved with hierglyphs about the 5 dynasties. Unfortunately, when keen archaeologists got permission to reconstruct the staircase they put back the blocks in any order, not understanding their meaning.

I later, half-heartedly, went with the group to Macaw Mountain but found it very interesting as it is a bird sanctuary for injured birds and unwanted bird pets. Some of the birds are free but do not leave the sanctuary (wise things - and yes, there are some owls), others are kept in cages for breeding. The Macaw is the Honduras national bird and the breeding programme arranges for the young to be released on the Mayan Ruins site which is where you can rely on seeing them.

They have red and green Macaw but also Toucans, different owls, parakeets, falcons etc. and all wonderful to see even if seen before. The bird-watchers in the group were keen to get photos of other birds flying in the wild as the sanctuary is in completely natural surroundings along the river with wooded mountains above. It was interesting to hear from a devoted guide how they cared for the birds, their diets and breed/release programmes with no government aid, relying only on the entrance fee paid by tourists - and we were the only group through that day!

I now have to pack an overnight bag for our trip back to Guatemala tomorrow, via more ruins. We travel to our next stop (Livingston) by boat from Puerto Barrios on the Caribbean coast so have to keep our weight down although there are two hefty people in the group who far outweigh my bag!

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