Actually sitting here after a day exploring the amazing archeological wonder of Copal in Honduras (a story for later). It’s the first time that I’ve had the confluence of an in-room wifi connection and an hour of time to put this blog together. So we’ll start from the beginning.
The full day journey to Guatemala City was a bit tense with close connections, but ended blessedly uneventful. We met up with our guide, Carlos, and our traveling companions at the airport. Our hotel was just across the street and very pleasant. Just 12 total travelers in our group; six couples from five different US states and one from Toronto. All very seasoned travelers and anxious to get started. We had dinner, made wake up plans and went to bed for an early start via small plane to the Flores area and Lake Yaxha.
Our boat to Yaxha
The lake was beautiful, surrounded by vibrant jungle and filled with crocodiles. Tropical water birds were everywhere; egrets, herons, cormorants and more.
We disembarked for an archeological tour of Topoxte and the larger Yaxha, contemporary to Tikal, but much smaller. There are over 1,400 monuments mapped out and being excavated over the past ten years. Some extraordinary Mayan architecture has been uncovered.
Here we are in front of the first temple/pyramid we come across. You can see the typical Mayan thatched roof to protect what has been excavated. Unfortunately nothing more has been done for some time…money, money, money.
Temple 216, Over 90 feet High
We checked out the recently restored North Acropolis and saw our first ball court; a place where Mayans would watch as designated players would compete to hit a series of targets with an 8-pound hard rubber ball using no hands or feet. The game got very brutal, and yes, the loser was sacrificed. I guess we’ll have to get a Netflix of Mel Gibson’s Apocolypto (never did want to see it) since it’s supposedly a fairly accurate depiction of some of the worst parts of Mayan life. It’s set in Copal in Honduras (where we actually are now).
Our first Stela (of many and much more elaborate). Free-standing, elaborately carved stone monuments decorating major sites. They fulfilled a sacred and political role commemorating historical events. The most impressive are in Copan.
Tomorrow we’ll go back over 2,000 years at the Tikal National Park.