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Day 18 Copans Ruinas

Written on: Friday August 10th, 2007

A journal entry from: Central America Road Trip 2007

Got an early start and got to the park as soon as it opened at 8AM. Yesterday I elected to hire a guide in advance who was recommended, rather than go with one of the guides hanging around the park entrance. Regular price for the guides are $25, I paid $30 plus tip (plus of course my $15 entry fee). We shall see if it was worth it. I thought the ruins overall were pretty impressive. Similar to Tikal but different. There were not as many tall pyramids but I think the detail on some of the Stellae (stone monuments) was maybe a little better. I didnīt opt to pay extra to go through the tunnels under the ruins as I was advised it really wasnīt worth the extra cost. Perhaps someone else who has done that could write in and tell me if they found it any differently. Among other things, I saw the Jaguar Temple, the Acropolis, the Heiroglyphic Staircase, the ball court and the assorted Stellae of 18 Rabbit, who was the 13th ruler of Copans (who said archeologists didnīt have a sense of humor when they transcribed his original name.

In the end, while I enjoyed the tour, I think I probably would have gotten just as much out of a good guidebook. After all, IMHO, its not like having a guide in a naturalist park where the objects of interest need to be spotted as they move about and appear in different locations each time. At the ruins, the rock monuments are fixed and the details read from the guidebook can fairly easily be matched against the object in front of you. Besides, how much detail are you really going to remember when you walk away. The main thing is to absorb the atmosphere and get the basic story. I suspect others might disagree but thats the way I see it.

After the tour, I had them drop me at the Sepulturas, which were a residential compound aa bit further down the road. I hadnīt paid for the seperate $7 entry for the Sepulturas at the main park, since I wasnīt sure at that point if Iīd want to see them, but when I got to the Sepulturas the guard just waved me through anyway. While not as grand as the Principal Group of the ruins, they were well worth a look.

When I got through I walked back to town, which was a bit of a hike considering my sore ankle, but I was glad I did. First, Iīm not sure if walking on it hurts or helps it but I figured I needed to give it a test. Secondly, because otherwise I would have missed a couple more Stellae that were along the path, which one would most likely have missed from a vehicle travelling along the nearby road. I also noticed that the park parking lot which had been empty save for maybe 2-3 other cars when I got there that morning was now completely full, with cars and tour buses plus the sun was high in the sky. I was glad I had gotten there early like I did. When I finally got back to town I had some lunch, internet and took care of a few other odds and ends, killing some time until my 2PM horse back trip, which I had also arranged the day before.

After some delays, me, my guide Danielito (little Daniel) and our horses Palomo and Estrella took off. Daniel didnīt speak a word of english, but fortunately unlike most other kids his age who Iīve met on this trip we didnīt have too much trouble understanding each other. I asked him a few questions as we crossed the river south of town and headed up into the mountains. Along the way he pointed out corn, coffee, cano, tobacco, banana and pineapple crops (I guess pineapple does grow in the mountains after all). Eventually, we came to the Chorti indian village of Pintada. As soon as we dismounted I was immediately surrounded by about a half dozen little indian girls who were trying to sell me little corn husk dolls that they and their mamas has made. What was I going to do with a dozen corn husks, but how could I refuse them all? So I bought one from the first girl who had approached me and the others walked off disappointed. Unfortunately, only then did I realize I should have snapped a picture of them first. Danielito, showed me their school which had a nice mural on the wall outside but was otherwise very basic, the artisan workshop and towards of the bottom of the village a nice view out over the ruins far below. A couple of other indian girls came up to me on our way back up the hill and this time I snapped a pretty good picture, which I will post later) and bought another doll for the privelege.

We got back to town and I thanked Danielito and went back to me hotel to rest and freshen up. When I went out for dinner, I discovered that the somewhat unusual increasing number of motorbikers I had noticed throughout the day had turned into a sort of mini-latino Sturgis festival with several streets blocked off and huge load speakers setup with blaring latino music blaring out and long lines of motorcycles along each side of the street with latino bikers laughing joking and, of course, drinking with their buddies. I hadnīt brought one along, but I had to race back to my hotel to get my camera to capture this special moment. I twas starting to get dark, so Iīm not sure how they came out, but Iīll also post some pics of this.

They had some Harley-Copans 2007 T-shirts on sale for $11 and I was tempted to buy one but thought Iīd be sort of a fraud not being a genuine biker myself even though I was there. The next morning I got to talking to one of the bikers at a She Bal Ba, who told me he was part of a group of bikers from all over Guatemala, El  Salvador and Honduras who met here and at 3-4 other gatherings around the region throughout the year for fellowship and to raise money for their pet charity, an orphanage for 215 children in Comayagua, Honduras. He told me about all the things the orphanage did for all the children including vocational training in leathercraft and farming techniques as well as regular eduction and proudly how they helped raise nearly 1M lempira ($200K) per year towards the cause. Evidentally, half the cost of the T-shirts went to orphanage and I now regretted my not having purchased one.

Dinner was a filling and delicious roast pork chop with all the fixings for 70L($3.50). Not much else to report.

Total cost for the day $97.50: most of which ($71) was for the tours and about half of that (the guide at the ruins) easily could have been skipped.