The plan for Day Four (aka Wednesday) was to visit the Mayan Ruins at Copan. Even though I would have preferred to do more project and home visits, I knew that a day of emotional rest would do some good and give us a chance to process much of what we had experienced so far. My main concern was doing a lot of walking in the heat, since I had been struggling physically all week with blood pressure issues, retaining fluids while trying to fight dehydration... it wasn't pretty. The pants I had packed wouldn't fit, and yet only a week ago, there was room to spare.
I woke up on Wednesday really not feeling well, but praying that the weather would remain mild and bring some relief from the heat... prayers answered. Off we went!
The Copan Ruins are amazing to see in person.... the photos don't do it justice. It was neat to see this small scale model, though, just before we entered the park itself and saw them in person. Gave it even more perspective.
I have to admit, my awe and wonder often stemmed from wondering how in the world they built temples of such magnitude in this kind of jungle heat, but I am Canadian, what can I say? :)
The tour guide we had was exceptional -- very informative, funny, engaging. He set a great pace, not too fast, not too slow.
He even pointed out things like giant poison ivy plants... and suggested we don't use them as toilet paper if we're out in the bush...
At the entrance, we were greeted by a handful of these colorful birds. They were so beautiful, and free to fly around.
Walking through the trails, we saw very interesting vegetation. Some of the fruits were pretty big. Imagine how that would feel if it landed on your head? Hmmmm....
The climb was steep...
Felt like we were being watched...
The trees were amazing. I can't even begin to imagine the tree/life rings on some of these...
The guide showed us the root systems for some of these trees, and how they wound their way through the ruins. Amazing.
I loved seeing even the "younger" trees, and how they would grow right in the midst of the temple areas, the roots working their way around the stones and stairs.
It seemed as though everywhere we looked, there were "hidden pictures" within the scene before us. Carvings and stairs blending into the surroundings at every turn.
These carvings were massive... I'm trying to imagine the artist who made them centuries ago, what that must have been like to witness.
It would have made more sense to bring a wide angle lens...
The size perspective can be felt in this photograph...
At each turn was yet another photographer's playground...
Dizzying heights.... beautiful view. But beware the dangers...
Once in a while, I gave my camera to one of the Honduran guys, you know, for proof that I was really there.
Once in a while, I took the opportunity to prove how silly and awesome our team leaders are... like Kayla!!
Further ahead, the tour guide allowed us to sit for a break while he gave us some more history of our surroundings.
I couldn't hear what he was saying, the ringing in my ears was louder than usual, and to be honest, the beauty that God of God's creation around us was far more captivating...
Loved to see the force of nature in the midst of our surroundings -- like this rock that was determined to push against the growth of this tree.
This was one of my favorite photographs from that day... Which came first, the tree or the stairs? Obviously the stairs... but I love how the tree accommodated them so beautifully.
Ever feel you're being watched? Oh yeah... discussed that already. Carry on...
We had seen this tree from the bottom of the valley... seeing the base so close was quite an experience, this photo doesn't do it justice in the least.
The view was breathtaking...
And perfect for photos... individual, or in very small groups... With twenty cameras pointing their way, a fall would have been very well documented :)
(Steph & Kayla, two of our fearless leaders...)
The grand stairs were being restored, but the tour guide took us to see them and explain what we were seeing. My thoughts were a million miles away... I struggled to connect with a place where such brutality existed so many years ago... human sacrifices? In my heart, there was only one I could focus on, His name was Jesus.
The guide took us to the ball court area, where the Mayans played with 7-10lb rocks to try to knock out the other team's parrot heads... Wild.
Such elaborate places... so beautiful.
I was impressed at how fast three hours passed... it seemed as though we were only there for barely an hour.
All too soon, it was time to say goodbye... to our guide, and to our feathered friend.
We had lunch at an outdoor cafe style pizzaeria, where I met this beautiful woman... the one I wrote about in this post... the one who reminded me of Jesus.
The quaint little town/village was charming, with it's toilet paper taxi making it's way through the cobblestone streets... only in Honduras.
Toilet paper is a precious commodity here, the taxi needed its own guards... What, you haven't heard of the Toilet Paper Patrol?
The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing little shops around this beautiful town.
I bought a few things to bring home... coffee, leather bracelets, carved wooden boxes, a scarf, and a handful of postcards. The vanilla (banilla!) was a great buy as well. After a quick stop at a local coffee shop (even though I don't drink coffee), I made my way back to the hotel to get some rest before the night's Leadership Development Program student presentation.
All in all... another perfect day in this beautiful country.