I didn't mention that Gord and I spent Sun. a.m. lost in Antigua's mercado. A fun experience.
Yesterday we were up at 2.45a for a 4a shuttle to Copan, Honduras. Traffico was heavy and the going slow through Guatemala City. Once past the city, we travelled along a mountainous valley to the border with Honduras. The border was a snap. Once through it was a mere 12k to Copan. We were dropped at Hostel Berakah.
Copan Ruinas has a large central plaza, Central America. There are gadrdens and walkways through it. Some of the Mayan stele are here. They were once thought to be religious sculptures but are now known to have honoured kings.
Yesterday we visited both the archeological museum and the 3D museum. We were given a good overview of the ancient ruins in the 3D museum. The archeological museum had many original relics from Copan ruins. In particular was 2 flint knife with carved figures that was 12-18 inches. These were from the Rosilita temple found buried beneath the acropolis. There was also a lot of pottery, incense burners etc from various eras. Explanations were in English as well as Spanish. This gave us a good start to understanding the ruins.
Our dinner last night could have been better. The meat was sp tough that we had trouble cutting and chewing it. We did however like the pickled veggies....beets and cabbage, mixed veggies and a hot chilli salsa served alongside.
Today we met Julio, our guide at 8.15a. He is an older gentleman who spent a great part of his life working at Copan Ruins helping with the archeological digs. He was part of the crew who discovered Rosilita and Marguerita temples. He is very knowledgeable and enjoys imparting his knowledge to others. He learned to speak English while working at Copan Ruins. A very nice man.
We went out to the ruins by moto-taxi. Along the route were steles of various kings....of note 18 Rabbits. His real name 18 Acoati. Yes he is named after a rodent. There are many statues of 18 Rabbits. He was the 13th king of 16. He destroyed most of the evidence of the former kings. He was a good business king and Copan thrived during his rule. However he was invited by Quirinis, a neighboring town to play a ball game. At the end of the game the most important player was sacrificed and 18 Rabbits was he. Copan started its decline.
We went first to the West Court and saw temple 11. This is in the Acropolis. Temple 11 is stepped. It has images of the underworld....of water.....frogs, crocodiles, Waterlillies. As this is on the western side it was believed the underworld was entered here. As it started to rain we saw stele P and altar Q as well as the back side of temple 16.
Altar Q is a 5 ft square 2 ft high with the images of 16 kings inscribed on it. Of particular note was the image of the first king handing power to the 16th king and the date...in Mayan. All original artifacts are under cover and altar Q is a reproduction.
We went around temple 16 stopping to see the cemetaria. This has been found to be the royal residence of the 16th king. A prince had been found buried here. The Mayans did not have cemeteries. They buried there dead close to home.
Around the corner we found a small plaza...the Jaguar Plaza...surrounded by temples. Only the nobles were allowed here. In one corner is a tunnel into temple 16. The temple Rosilita was discovered here. It was made of limestone stucco and painted red. It is decorated with snakes, maccaws, quetzals. A king was found inside. It had been wrapped in white limestone and another temple built above. Underneath Rosilita was discovered temple Marguerita with the bones of the first king preserved in cyanide. Temples built above were built to honour the first king. Through prespiring glass we could see only one level of Rosilita and only one side.
When a new king took power he destroyed the previous temples down to their base level and built his temple above...there are many layers to the Copan temples. This could be seen in the tunnels.
We went next into the Jaguar tunnels. Here we saw evidence of the many layers....some stucco and later ones stone. We also saw another preserved underground temple with the hooked beak of a maccaw and the wings of a celestial bird. Again it was only one level.
We left the tunnels to see the exit of the drains. The plazas were drained.
We went next to see the Hierglyphic Staircase. It is original and covered to protect it from the elements. A stele stands in front. The first 15 steps are in order, the rest no. No one knows what it reads. From here we climbed up and over to the next and largest plaza. Here there is an I shaped playing field for ball. It was played with a solid rubber ball weighing 8 pounds. On each side is a slanted wall with statues of 8 parrots atop them. Above are change rooms for the ballplayers. The game was played by bouncing the ball off the slanted area. The ball was not to touch the ground. A score was made when a parrot was hit. At the end of the game the most important player was sacrificed. This was an honour.
At both end stepped viewing benches were placed....the large end for commoners and the smaller for royalty.
We next went to see the stele standing in one section of the plaza. Originals were covered, copies not....protection from the weather.
When all had been viewed we left and went to see the museum on site. It houses a life size copy of Rosilita, the original altar Q....much larger than that on display in the grounds. It stands some 4 feet high and is more than 6 ft. square. There are many stele, origial facades (rock) here....taken from the site so they can be preserved. This museum seemed an anticlimax after seeing the site.
We spent a quiet afternoon then went to ViaVia for dinner. Gord had a baleada...a giant tortilla stuffed with cheese, beans, and chicken. He had pickled beets with rice on the side...loved it.
We are settling early as our inside room can be noisey.