Monday, July 18, 2011

A weekend of being tourists

Saturday morning, we left at 7:00 for a "three hour trip" to Copan.  But first we stopped for fuel and water.  Then we took a side trip to Santa Clara, a village way above the valley where the road is.  It was a road full of very rocky places, several deep ruts/dips and mud in a few spots.  But Fredy managed to get us there in one piece.  The school has been built by donations from several churches.  All of the buildings are brick with Spanish tile roofs and ceramc tile floors.  The windows are screened and open to catch the breeze.  This weas by far the best of the schools we saw in our travels.   It is a bilingual school and two of the girls who were in the Santa Cruz shelter are boarding students here.

After about half an hour - I did not wear a watch this week so time has been relative - we returned to our van and headed back down the mountain road and the highway to Copan.  In several of the villages and towns, speed bumps have been installed to keep people from flying through and endangering lives.  Remember this is a country with no speed limits and people also ignore the double yellow line in the middle of the road.  Speed bumps in a loaded van are not fun, though, and added to the wear and tear of our derriers.

We finally reached Copan about 1:00.  Yes, that is six hours after we left home. ;-)  Our first stop was Macaw Mountain.  This attraction was built by a man from Knoxville who came to Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer and pretty much never left.  All of the macaws, parrots and toucans we saw are birds that have been rescued from poachers.  They come to Macaw Mountain to heal before they are returned to the wild.  Most of us had our pictures taken holding two or three of these beautiful birds.  We would normally have been allowed to walk through the aviaries; however, this is mating season so we had to leave the birds pretty much alone.  Macaws are mate for live and live to be about 80 years old. 

We had lunch here and then headed for our hotel and some shopping.  I confess to having gone a little wild on the latter before heading for the hot tub at the hotel.  After a nap, we had a late dinner in the hotel dining room.  On Sunday, we got up late and ate big breakfasts before heading to the Mayan ruins.  Copan is the last Mayan site built and it is from here that Mayans disappeared completely at the end of the 9th century.  All that was left when the Spanish arrived about seven hundred years later was ruins.  Reconstruction began in 1891 and continues today.  Apparently the site is so rich that they can uncover in two months enough things to study for two years.  Nury told us they are behind in the study part of things and have stopped digging until they catch up.

Our tour guide was named Marvin (!) and was quite knowledgeable about the site and the history of the Mayans.  We had a good time with him.  He told us that bananas and palm trees are not native to Honduras but came from Asia.  I can't imagine Honduras without either of those trees.  We did see some incredibly old capok trees that have survived earthquakes and hurricanes.  One of them looked to be growing out of the hill at a sixty-five degree angle.

We had lunch at a restaurant in town.  The taco soup would have been sufficient since most of us were still digesting breakfast.  It was really very good.  We also had baked chicken, potatoes, carrots and green beans.  Sunday dinner just like Mom used to make!  After a little more shopping - Adam finally found his hammock - we got back onto our van and started back to San Pedro Sula.  The homeward trip only took four and a half hours with one stop to stretch about halfway.  We siad good-bye to Javier, our favorite waiter, and Belinda, the bartender at the pool.   This morning, we will head for the airport and begin our journeys home.  Susie Cox returns to Los Angeles and the rest of us come home to Kingsport by way of three different airports.  We have become a family in this short week.

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