Wednesday, December 12, 2012


A friend who had recently been to Tikal and Copan commented to us that he liked Copan better. Which of the two Mayan ruins would I like the most?

1. The Copan Ruins Archaeological Park
While Copan's Grand Plaza is not as grand as Tikal's, and its pyramids are not as high as those of Tikal, it more than makes up for it in richly carved glyphs and designs on stelas and buildings, still clearly visible having weathered in the tropical sun for over a millennium -- these people were very sophisticated! We spent most of the first day at the ruins, and a couple of hours at the site museum on the second afternoon. The museum has lots of good stuff too; the highlight of which was a full size replica of the Rosalia Temple, an exact copy of the one nearly perfectly preserved under one of the pyramids.

2. Scarlet Macaws - Guacamaya Roja in Spanish
The park keeps a flock of scarlet macaws at the entrance. They put out food and provide shelter for the birds who fly around freely. The park keeps them with the ease of someone else keeping pigeons. I had read about the macaws yet I was amazed when I saw them. One can see ruins everywhere, especially in this part of the world, but scarlet macaws, nobody else has them. We went back the second afternoon solely to visit with the macaws again. When the birds swoop down and fly by next to me, it feels like the opening sequence of some fantasy movie. I was thoroughly enchanted!

3. Copan Ruinas (the town)
The town of Copan Ruinas is just one kilometer from the park. At over 2000 feet it is the coolest place we have been so far. It is a pretty village which attracts travelers and hang-outers alike. The second morning our walk happened to take us to the village of "La Pintada" where Peace Corp volunteers were working with the village children. A few of the vilage girls were hopeful that we would buy their corn husk dolls. None asked begged for anything. We were lucky. A young boy named Milton solemnly escorted us to the viewpoint from which one can see down to the ruins. And on the walk back to town, we were offered and accepted a ride in a very ancient pickup truck. Lastly, a German named Thomas has opened a micro-brewery in town. John enjoyed a home-brew each afternoon.

So the answer is "yes" I liked Copan more than Tikal.

Scarlet Macaw video. If you can't view the embedded video, click here.

And more macaw photos:
Scarlet Macaws - Copan - Ruinas Copan, Honduras

Scarlet Macaws - Copan - Ruinas Copan, Honduras

Rosalia Temple replica in the Sculpture Museum at Copan (with John).
Rosalia Temple - Copan, Honduras

One of the stelae.
Copan - Ruinas Copan, Honduras

Several views of the Grand Plaza.
Grand Plaza - Copan - Ruinas Copan, Honduras

Grand Plaza - Copan - Ruinas Copan, Honduras

The Famous Hieroglyphic Staircase.
Famous Hieroglyphic Staircase - Copan - Ruinas Copan, Honduras

The East Plaza.
East Plaza - Copan - Ruinas Copan, Honduras

A stele in the West Plaza.
Stela - West Plaza - Copan - Ruinas Copan, Honduras


Crash Eddy said...

Coincidentally, last eve we watched 6th and final episode which is a how-we-did-it exposé. Filming scarlet macaws: two natives who had raised a flock of 4 macaws abandoned at birth and subsequently released into the wild cruised a river in a motor boat and whistled to call the birds. Took a while but they were successful, all 4 came and landed on the boat. The men fed them treats and scratched the macaws under their wings in places the macaws could not reach themselves. After a bit, the macaws were encouraged to fly beside the boat and were videoed. We can show you this when you return.

Kathy said...

Love the macaws! Great photos, but still not sold on the architecture or carvings....

BTW, have made it home. Looking forward to following you more closely.

WQZ said...

beautiful birds! some eyes have black outter circle, some don't. does that tell the sex i wonder? how come they haven't multiplied to other places in the region?

also interesting, the glyph staircase is covered. i suppose the jungle provided protection from the sun before.

Sun-Ling said...

I was particularly impressed with the glyphs. These were from the 500s to 700s C.E., made by a people that had only corn and beans, no domestic animals, no wheels, no load-bearing animals, whose entire written records were thoroughly destroyed by their conquerors.

Sun-Ling said...

@Kathy, so good to hear from you, was beginning to worry, and about to ping you via email.

Sun-Ling said...

@WQ, I was reading the facial patch is like fingerprints for humans. Macaw are considered endangered. As splendid as they are. I can just imagine the demand.

Sun-Ling said...

@WQ, the staircase probably was covered in vegetation before the archeologists. The tropical sun is very powerful. I was reading they had to now rely on some details in photos that were taken over 100 years.

Kathy said...

Sun-Ling - thanks for noticing! No problems, aside from rain in Pucon, just traveling rather than writing Must now think about Christmas....