Saturday, December 26, 2009

Feliz Navidad

We have had a pleasant Christmas week. We spent the first part of the week in Copan Ruinas, which is about a three or four hour bus trip from here. The Mayan site there is really quite special, with the best stella and glyphs that I have seen among the numerous sites in Mexico and Guatemala that I have visted previously. The main Acropolis area is set in a dense jungle with amazingly colorful parrots and strange, small four-legged creatures. There is about a ten-acre area that has been substantially reconstructed, with some large pyramids, but there are also many mounds, covered with enormous trees, that remain to be fully explored. The stella are fantastically detailed, with a high degree of relief, perhaps due to the relatively soft tuft stone that is available in the area. The general area is a pleasant, fertile valley, relatively narrow, and it is difficult to understand how or why this was such an important Mayan center of art and science 1500 years ago. We will try to post some pictures soon, which will not quite do the site justice, but will give you some idea.

The town of Copan Ruinas is primarily a tourist town, with scores of hotels and restaurants, but it is actually pretty nicely done. It has picturesque cobbled streets and everything is well kept and feels quite safe. There are also a couple of nice museums there, in addition to the very good sculpture museum at the ruins site. For the first time since we have been in Honduras, we actually saw some significant number of tourists, primarily European, but the numbers are still far below average. As a first stop for most of the people traveling overland into the country, this does not seem like a true introduction to Honduras, as it is unlike anywhere else that we have seen thus far, but it is a pleasant place.

For Christmas here in Santa Rosa, "peace on earth" and "silent night" are celebrated with an amazing amount of fireworks. Noche Buena seems to be as important as Christmas Day for family gatherings and for many people this celebration involves shooting off lots of very loud fireworks. Much of them are more for noise than visual effect and around midnight, the sounds were stunning. Christmas Day itself was a very nice day, and much more peaceful. Peace and Joy to you all.

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