Meeting Maya

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
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Trip End Nov 04, 2008


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Flag of Honduras  ,
Thursday, July 3, 2008

Well, after quite too many days in Honduras, we finally reached a place that satisfies our desires to see interesting things and learn a bit. To be sincere the rest of Honduras up to today has been "el dumpo" of a trip. Someone needs to shake these people to wake up and do something about their country.

All we have seen for the past days on TV is a clown with a moustache which calls himself el Presidente doing politics related to the airport. We think he is trying to imitate Groucho Marx and something went badly wrong. A swift backhander...thats what he needs with the state of his country.

And perhaps aid agencies should send a few more river experts to clean rivers and a few less young guys that dont even speak the language and believe that doing "clown acting" in schools will bring this country to the century the rest of us have been two centuries ago.

Anyway, there are two things el gringo comes to see in Honduras, the Copan ruins and the Bay Islands. Most people go to Copan from Guatemala and piss off as soon as possible into Guatemala again, or else they zoom directly to the Bay Islands for scuba diving and caribbean beaches. We passed on the Bay Islands as it sounds way too "laid-back" for us. You know what it means when everyone says a place is "laid back" around here...they are a bunch of lazy locals that struggle to move, plus one too many hippies (zero is one too many). At least thats what we have seen and its just not comfortable.

So we did the struggle to get to Copan (bad transport, boring food, bad accomodation, endless clown projects from aid agencies, terrible roads, unhappy locals, and and endless speach about Toncontin airport being unsafe on TV). Was it worth it? YES!

We havenīt been to other Maya sights yet (luckily as we probably would have skipped this one) but this is glorious. Additionally there are two museums which really help to understand the Maya culture for beginners. So for 24 hours we felt intelectually great again...it was since Nicaragua...too long!

We visited the museum in the town last night. There are local guys sitting around and they love to take you round the museum explaining the obvious. They are not necessary and you immediately know they are searching for a tip. We felt like telling the guy that we could read what he was telling us, but we played along with his game for $1 tip.

One of the gratifying things about the Maya culture which we did not get from the Inka one are their numbers, calendar, and gliphs. These guys had developed a perfect calendar of 365 days and over 700 gliphs (pictures) which expressed different things. So once you learn the basics you can start reading the gliphs around the ruins. Its not easy in one day, but at least we could identify dates, kings and some expressions. A bit of Sherlock homes stuff.

The ruins themselves are about 1 km walk from the town (also called Copan Ruins). Ticket to get in are $15 for ruins, $15 for tunnels and $7 for the museum, all worth it although the tunnels are a bit steep for what one sees.

At the ruins we bumped into a group of teen German aid workers (not voluteers, they are in Honduras to avoid doing the military service). We joined them to make the guide service less expensive, although compared to Peru the guide was very cheap ($25 for a group of up to 10 people for 2 hours). It was well worth it.

Now, we wont go into details of the Copan Ruins as this is just a travel blog and not a history book (for more information go to this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cop%C3%A1n ), but the place is "awesome" as our US friends would say.

The archaelogists have done a great job to clear part of the jungle away and then piece the stones and gliphs together to show what it was like...and it must have been ants work! Part of the ruins are still under jungle trees to show how it was found.

One thing that needs commenting on the photographs is that the original buildings were all painted in red, and surrounded by white floors (see plan picture) which must of made the place divine.

We also visited the tunnels which are open to the public. The Mayans (as with other cultures we have seen such as the Moche in Peru), destroyed all the temples of the dead king and built the new ones on top. However, from a certain point in history of Copan, the Kings decided the buildings were so sacred that they would not destroy them but just build on top.

This led us to some historical debate about the Spanish conqueror destroying all the indigenous temples and building churches on top....its exactly what the indigenous people were doing anyway...so less shouting you eco-warriors!

The tunnels work through the current building and show others under it. Amazing!

One final thing that is splendid at the ruins, is the colony of Macaws at the entrance. They are fed but are free to come and go (i.e. in liberty). We really wanted to see them in our trekking but they are shy creatures most of the time. Here they are used to visitors so they just sit around on the fences (although no touching unless you want a good bite!).

We finished the day with a tasty curry at Via Via hostel ($5 pp) and watching King Kong yet again. We have watched it about 3 times but in parts as we keep falling asleep (the modern version with Jack Black)...is it a film to make everyone fall asleep endlessly?
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