It was as good as we'd hoped for. The Mayan ruins of Copan were spectacular. Peter was near breathless by it all. We happened upon a gentleman, Juan, who practically grew up on this archeological site. For a small fistfull of cash, we were treated to a personalized tour with details we would have never heard otherwise. History, culture, how to read the hieroglyphics, first hand information of archeological digs. As a kid, there were virtually no hotels in Copan, so the National Geographic archeologists would stay in his home with his family. They'd go out and then come home and tell him everything they did and discovered. Amazing.
He even described how the Mayan version of soccer was played. Pointing to the still existing field and then to the sloped structures on either side, it was played on field and structure, points occuring when the ball made contact with one of the six carved macaw heads on top of the structure. Incentive not to be the best player, however ... he was sacrificed on a nearby altar! A high honor, apparently. Peter was wide-eyed at this revelation.
Juan even got us into the underground tunnels for a few more lempuras. We got to explore the cities with in the city underneath the exterior temples. Wow. He said he was excited to show us everything since Peter was so rapt and enthusiastic. We climbed to the top of the ampitheater and gazed at the Honduran mountainside with San Salvador to the right and Guatemala just behind us.
Full of amazement, we then took another tuk-tuk to zip us up the mountain to Macaw Mountain where we toured the tropical bird sanctuary. At one point we had about 6 parrots and macaws hopping about our arms and shoulders in all their brilliant colors.
Afterwards Ronaldo, our tuk-tuk driver, took us back to our hotel. Well...almost back to the hotel. He (and an old, unknown Honduran man who came along for the ride) was busy shouting exclamations to various locals as we barreled down the cobblestone roads at breakneck paces. I barely had time to wonder if tuk-tuks tip over easily. After a particularly vigourous conversation, our tuk-tuk stalled out in the street and a police truck full of armed men started honking and exclaming while nudging the tuk-tuk with the front bumper. Ronaldo just waved, and smiled and off we continued. About 3 blocks from the hotel, we suddenly came to a halt. Ronaldo tossed up his hands and looked back with a smile. "No more petrol," he laughed. And so did we as we walked back to the hotel.
Very tired from a full day and up at 4:00am tomorrow for another bus ride to the north coast. Buenos Noches.