Thursday, March 31, 2011


We got up at 0500 and had breakfast. Seeing the sun rise from the top of temple 4 is supposed to be amazing but taking to people the mornings are usually misty so you can't see it rise, so we had an extra hour in bed. We set off at 0600 after having breakfast to a very overcast sky and were glad we hadn't pinned our hopes on the sun rise. Having brought our entrance ticket for Q150 each we started walking. The site is massive. We spent 6 hours walking around and I'm sure we missed some things, and that was just the area that has been restored. There were over 150,000 people that lived around the site between 200AD and 900AD when all the large Mayan sites were abandoned. That is 10 times more people than Copán! Here are some pictures:-Complex Q with stelas and altar stones, root path, inside a temple, wildlife, stairs up to temple 4, views from the top of temple 4,
looking down from temple 4, more stairs, toucan, temple 1, temple 2 and the grand plaza, temple 5, view of temple 2 and grand plaza, looking down from temple 5, hiding from the sun, walking through the jungle between sites, shadows, temple 6.
We arrived back at camp around 1230 exhausted, jumped under a cold shower, had some lunch before felling asleep to wake in a pool of sweat. These 105 F temperatures really take it out of you. The size and majesty of Tikal was awe-inspiring and we were able to place the delicacy of the carvings in the much smaller Copán site into perspective.

On the way to Tikal. 27/3/2011

We set off early the next morning to try and miss the heat. Out of the mountains the temperature touches 100 F during the day ad the humidity is quite high. We travelled towards Puerto Barrios on the Caribbean coast then turned north towards Rio Dulce at the mouth of Lago de Izabal. There is a large bridge that crosses over the river where you enter another world. Large motor and sailing vessels are moored up in marinas with large houses leading down to it's banks. Half a mile either side of the bridge you are back in Guatemala with people selling their wares on the street. We turned left in the town following the Lago for some 16 miles to a river called El Paraiso where hot water comes over a waterfall and joins the cooler river below. The hot water was almost too hot to touch. You can see Jill waving hiding under an overhang where the hot and cold water mixed. Much refreshed we traveled back to Rio Dulce and turned north again towards Poptan and the Finca Ixobal just 2 miles before the town. The road was very good and we made fast progress arriving about 1700. Jill secured us a 'tree house' 28/3 007 called Casa Linda and we settled in for the night. The finca is about 800 acres and grows it's own vegetables on organic lines. They have a range of different accomadations for tourist and provide lovely home cooked meals....Yum. There was a pond to swim in (which we didn't as the mosquitoes put us off) and huge stands of bamboo. The next morning we went for a walk along a forest trail marked out with red paint to stop you getting lost. The view from the top of the hill was rather impressive of the undulating landscape. After lunch, having removed a free loader from the bike seat who then hid under the exhaust pipe and was really difficult to remove, we set off into the heat of the afternoon north toward Tikal. We stopped off at El Cruce to try and buy some provisions for our camping at Tikal but apart from fizzy drinks made by the Coca cola company and packets of crisps there wasn't much else. Heading into the National park we camped in the designated camping area under a palapa for Q100 a night and watched spider monkeys, Whaite Nosed Coatis and Ocellated Turkeys strutting their stuff.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


So we set off for the Honduras border about 40km away. David sorted the paperwork on the Guatemalan side: Exit from Guatemala in our passports and temporary exportation of Nancy. On the Honduras side, after paying $3 USD each for entry, we were told it would be $35 USD to take the bike into Honduras for a day or for 90 days, and as we were only going in for the day decided to leave Nancy at the border under the eye of a security guard with a gun and get the bus to Copán Ruinas for $1 USD each just 7kms away.
On arrival at the town of Copán Ruinas, a very pleasant cobble street town with a spacious town square, we headed for a café for a croissant and coffee before going to the ruins. Usually in such places there are no refreshments inside, though usually stall selling drinks and souvenirs outside. It is strange still seeing men with large guns guarding shops, and banks. Check this one out through the window. Once at Copan we paid our $15 USD each entry, and were greeted by a parrot, a riot of colour amongst the green trees.
Then off to visit the ruins. We had been offered a tour guide for $25 USD but thought this was a bit pricey so wandered around trying to make sense of it all ourselves with the help of our guide book.
We began with some Stela's the carving of which is amazing even fifteen hundred + years after completion
alter pieces,
animal like thingies,

The Ball court
(ball games were a ritual once upon a time) the looser often lost not only the game but also his life sometimes.
The hieroglyphic stairway

which is now covered as the wind and rain have caused so much damage. This a an impression of what it may have looked like. Heads
and the sacred Jaguar, looking over the Jaguar court. Rocks upon rocks. In fact the site was quite flat and everything has been built up from rocks,
overlaid with smooth and carved rock.
The area at the rear of the main complex known as 'the cemetery' was very peaceful,
and housed the elite of Copan.
There were animals,

and magnificent trees
all adding to the magic.
In 760AD when these structures were being completed, Alfred the Great of Wessex (later to become England) was hiding out in the Somerset marshes while the Danes plundered. It would seem that the Mayan great cities fell into disuse due to over-population and overuse of the finite resources that were around at that time along with drought. Have we learnt anything from their example?
We left the site and retraced our steps back to Copan Ruinas and the bus to the border where we paid another $3 USD each to exit Honduras and Q10 to get back into Guatemala. Nancy was imported back into Guatemala without any fuss and we had a lovely ride back to the Hotel Hernandez in Chiquimula.