Tag Archives: Mayan civilization

“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan

3 May

“A man is a god in ruins.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The radio silence about my AFS excursion to Copán doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the trip, but is more a reflection of my slackness when it comes to uploading photos from my camera.

Confusingly the ruins are called Copán and the town is called Copán Ruinas (Copan Ruins). So you travel to the Copan Ruins to see Copán, not to Copán to see the ruins. Still with me?

It’s a long drive from Tegucigalpa to Copan Ruinas, which is situated close to the Guatemalan border in western Honduras. Including pit stops and a lunch break it took us just under 8 hours to get there, but it’s definitely worth the journey.

Copán Ruinas is a small town with cobblestoned streets and quaint colonial buildings.  As well as being the gateway to the ruins, there are also plenty of other tourist attractions to keep you busy.

On Friday afternoon we visited ‘Macaw Mountain’. As the name suggests, this is a tropical bird reserve featuring a large variety of parrots, parakeets, toucans, hawks, owls, and of course, macaws. All the birds are either donated rescued.

Meeting the locals

Meeting the locals

Macaw in Spanish is guacamaya. For some reason my brain insists on memorising the word as guayamaca. Maybe it’s my hamaca obsession filtering through.

We toured the ruins on Saturday afternoon. While Copan may not be as large or as big as some of the Aztec ruins I’ve seen in Mexico, the artwork is phenomenal. The detail in the sculptures, or ‘stelae’ as they’re called, is impressive.

My favourite statue was the one they called the Dancing Jaguar. Move over Nutbush and Macarena I think this will be the next dance craze:

Dancing Jaguar

Our guide was very knowledgeable and once I wrapped my head around her strong accent I really enjoyed her enthusiastic descriptions.

“Five, ten, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, Eighteen Rabbit King!”

Ok, so you kinda had to be there. But you can take my word for it, she was great.


It was a really interesting afternoon and I wish we’d had more time to take it all in.

Whenever I visit ruins I can’t help but remember one of my favourite poems, Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away