Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fun in Copan Ruinas Honduras!

What a cool weekend! I don’t know how much more we could have done in 2 days!! Our conference ended on Friday and since we were in such a cool spot, everyone wanted to explore. All but 4 of us from the Habitat conference left for San Pedro Sula where they flew out Sunday. I wasn't done yet.......even though I said I wasnt going to buy knick knacks anymore....I couldnt resist the maracas.My co-worker Andres and I wanted to check out the Mayan ruins, and I had done some research on Copan before the conference and discovered that there is a BIRD PARK. Yes, Macaw Mountain Bird Park had to be visited. Saturday morning the hotel shuttle took our group to the Ruins and I wanted to be dropped at the bird park. I convince Andres to go with me, and all though he isn’t a huge bird fan (like me) he enjoyed it. He is an avid photographer and took some beautiful shots of the parrots. My camera also captured some nice shots I thought. Like this little birdie.
This is my favorite one of me.... the bird lady....in all her glory! I was in heaven!This next pic is just to show you why I am asking Ernesto for a camera like Andres' for xmas. He took this pic with his Canon EOS (pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee mi neto???) Just look at the difference in colors. Now that is magazine quality. Imagine what it will do for my jewelry shots. Yes, it is a business investment. ok, back to my camera....
That night me, Andres, Aranzazu from Mexico and Esteban from Chile were planning to go to some Aguas Termales (hot springs) to relax, but since it had been raining for the past 5 days straight, the roads were a mess, and the place didnt have electricity. Instead we headed into town for some street food!!! For $1 we ate baleadas that were being prepared fresh by this lady right here. Baleadas are a flour tortilla-ish thing that is filled with beans, natilla, which is like a sour cream and cheese...and of course I added hot sauce too....sooooo delicioso! We pulled up a platic stool under the umbrella table on the street and order some shish kabobs too. Now thats what Im talkin' about!
The next morning we arrived early at the Ruinas, and I was so excited to see........MORE BIRDIES!! There were a bunch of red macaws (lapas) at the entrance of the park!
Our guide was wonderful! We ended up spending over 3 hours exploring and taking pics. Plus he was speaking spanish, so it was a good lesson for me. Here he is with his feather pointer explaining some hierogyliphics.Up closer.............................Copan seemed to be a very complex city. It is the site of a major Mayan kingdom. It was so cool to listen to our guide telling us how the city was set up. Here Andres and I are on one of the 2 pyramids. (called the Acropolis) Here they are from above.There was a residential area too. Copan, considered by many, one of the most spectacular city's of the ancient Mayas civilization. It flourished during the 7th century. That is a LONG time ago! Copán seemed to have had an unusually prosperous class of minor nobility, scribes, and artisans, some of whom had homes of cut stone built for themselves, some of which have carved hierogyliphics texts. It even had a large court for playing some kind of mesoamerica ball game. This is one of the many statues on the immense lawn....I wish I could tell you the story.Notice the hierogyliphics, at the bottom...I thought the "window" had a great view.As we walked around, I couldn't help but think of the two movies 300 and Apocalypto. A bit erie! Then we entered the tunnels..Archeologists have dug 4km of tunnels under the acropolis (the 2 pyramids) to view earlier stages of Copan civilization. There was even a bathroom. Our guide said it is the only one of its kind to be discovered. It was a really interesting tour. I have been to some mayan ruins in Mexico, last year as a matter of fact. Tulum....but I didnt get a guide. Well worth it!
Especially since our guide was the one who told us about our next adventure....Horseback riding.

It was lunch time though and we were hungry. Earlier I had seen Pupusaria Mary and pupusas are now one of my favorite things to eat! (I always get them at the market I go to on Saturday mornings...but they are really from El Salvador) We ate about 7 of them and then went to buy our bus tickets for the next day to the airport. I only mention this because I thought it was so funny that the ticket office was basically in someones living room. HA! Here Andres is at the "ticket counter"
At 230p sharp, we met our horse guide at the entrance of the ruins to "saddle up" for our trip to the indigenous village of Chor’ti. Habitat had arranged for everyone at the conference to visit Chorti Saturday morning as a field trip, but since it had rained non-stop all week, the roads were to muddy for cars to pass. Habitat Honduras hopes to provide 1,728 housing improvements on indigenous Chor’ti homes, 192 new houses for families whose homes in their current state cannot be improved, and training for 3,840 individuals in Chor’ti communities on health control. Thats why we got excited when the guide told us we could take horses there. We stopped to take a photo above the Rio Copan.
Despite living near a major tourist attraction which celebrates their ancestors, the majority of Chor’ti families today live in extreme poverty (less than US$1/day/person)
When we wrode in on our horses the kids came running towards us from everywhere. They wanted to sell us the handmade dolls out of dyed cornhusks. I had seen them in Copan and the tourist shops, but wasn't interested. Something about the kids and their little faces...holding the dolls over their heads saying "compra uno cada uno" (buy one from each of us.) In this picture we are discussing how many we should buy......Andres' face says it all....
They were $1 each and Andres and I couldn't resist, we bought 12 dolls. One from each kid. The homes here are built a mixture of bamboo, mud and timber with thatched roofs and dirt floors.
Here you can see the texture close up.
and another....
Chor’ti is lucky enough to have some tourists coming to the village and they actually have a cute little restaurant (it was Sunday so it wasn't open) and there is also a small artist studio that was funded by another NGO (not sure who) So this a source of income for the community. We met a woman who makes beautiful woven textiles in this studio.
We bought several pieces and felt good about it, again because its helping out this community, but also to have met the woman who actually made it was special. Andres is here playing with her kids outside the newer/nicest building in the village. He was asking them to write on his arm, and they were excited to do so...
This is little Levin, one of her sons.
and this little girl, I forget her name, but she was so pretty and sweet.
This picture, Andres took of me and the kids. You can tell its his camera, its such a great shot!
After about and hour, we got back on the horses and started the trek down.
Early the next morning our bus to San Pedro Sula was at 7am. Normally a 3 hour bus ride, so we would have arrived with time to kill for our flight that was departing at 5pm. About 20 minutes into the ride, we came to a hault.......ooooh for about 3 hours!! There was a mud slide and cars (let alone huge buses) were not able to pass. Everyone was out of their cars watching. A huge truck was stuck in the mud, its wheels buried. Finally though, a big tractor/bulldozer thing came and pulled the truck out and rearranged the mud so that we could pass. We still arrived to the airport 3.5 hours early. It was a long day, but a very smooth trip....thank god I was with someone who didn't "flip out" .......a little delay is nothing to get upset about, right?

To view the whole photo album of my trip, click here:

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