I was the first one to check in at Copán, Mayan ruins that are over 3,000 years old.
Copán is the name of the ruins, whereas Copán Ruinas is the name of the town (nothing else would make sense).
Although the guides were pushing paying an extra 15$ to enter the tunnels (the entry ticket was 15$ as well), they were also pushing themselves (a guide would have been another 30$). In other words, the day would have cost me 60 pupusas, or 2 Guatemalan border fines, depending on how you look at it.
I almost waited for a group to get a reduced rate but when I saw hordes coming I panicked, and practically ran to the park entrance. I decided to enter on my own and have the park to myself for a little while (I could always go back for a guide if I wanted).
Scarlet Macaws are found everywhere in ancient Mayan monuments, but as of now their numbers have declined. These scarlet macaws were bred in captivity and released into the wild here at Copán (but are soon to fly with a flock and live a normal bird life).
According to Mayan legends, when warriors died they were transformed into butterflies.
I think he would make a beautiful butterfly.
Here I am in the middle of the Great Plaza. Since structures built by new rulers were constructed on top of the existing ones, who knows what lies beneath this pyramid.
Jaguars were revered by Mayans, but now, due to loss of habitat, there are hardly any jaguars (if any) left. I am kind of glad there isn't a jaguar release program like there is for the scarlet macaws.
Throughout the Great Plaza are stelas created to glorify their leaders.
I am standing on one side of the ball court. This ball court is one of the largest in Central America.
Players were likely to be using hallucinogens, and had to prevent a large rubber ball from touching the ground. It was played simply for entertainment; the losers (and sometimes the winners) were sacrificed afterwards to the Mayan gods.
Who wants to play?
Full of information about the battles won by Copán kings, among other important information, this stairway is the single largest collection of hieroglyphs in the Americas. There are over 2,000 hieroglyphs on 63 steps.
I love seeing the roots of the trees incorporated into the Mayan site.
This is not how it would have looked thousands of years ago. The decline of this specific civilization was most likely due to deforestation, which lead to drought and crop failure and resulted in hunger, disease, and political unrest.
At one time Copán extended for two km along the Copán river, just beyond the steps in the distance is where there was once more territory. The Copán river undercut this area (known as the Acropolis) causing many buildings to collapse. The river has since been diverted.
Lizard glamour shots.
This area is called the Cemetery because of skeletal remains that were found here. In actuality it is the location where the Copán elites lived. It was common practice to be buried next to your home, which makes not visiting your deceased relatives unforgivable.
Since I had no guide it gave me lots of opportunity to sit in areas, like the Cemetery, with no one else around, and enjoy Copán.
I spent over two and a half hours inside the park, trying to avoid people (which shows in my pictures) but this is what it actually looked like...
Business is picking up, more lizard glamour shots!
Before completely exiting the archaeological site I saw a sign for a nature trail and decided to partake. I figured no one would be on it, and I was right.
I love the yellow antennae on this butterfly.
After I got back I played the banjo, and my biggest fan Cristal (a hotel employee's daughter) sat with me the whole time. She was fascinated, to say the least. As time went by she got more and more bold; at first pretending to play the piano on the table, then touching the banjo while I was playing, as well as putting her face three inches from the strings to watch them vibrate.
She eventually asking me if she could try.