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Entries about ruins

One Jaguar, 18 Rabbits and lots of Macaws

Copan, Honduras, by Mirren

sunny 26 °C

One Jaguar:
At the Luna Jaguar Hotsprings the naturally hot water is too hot and steamy to sit in by itself so they have to run cold water from a spring along with the hot water into a bunch of different pools. Some were cool. Some were warm. Some were hot. We had to take a tuktuk to get here and then had to walk over a hanging bridge, through a cave-like tunnel and over stepping stones in a river to get to the pools. There was a mud bath where we put mud on our faces and left it there to dry. We looked kind of funny with our faces all dirty, but our skin felt very soft when we washed it off in a warm waterfall shower. One shower had water coming out of a Mayan statue's mouth. Our tuktuk ride back to Copan was all uphill and we had to get out and walk up some of the hills. We all felt so relaxed and sleepy but it was a really bumpy road home and we had to hold on tight so we didn't fall out.

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18 Rabbits:
Early one morning we headed to the Mayan ruins of Copan. Our guide, Gladys, pointed out all the amazing sculptures carved out of rock. One carving showed a person wearing a jaguar skin and dancing and it looked a lot like Tigger. The most powerful ruler was called "18 Rabbit". He was beheaded when he went to visit his friend (that's a frenemy!) in another Mayan city. After that, the regular people realized that their rulers weren't gods and were only humans. They lost faith in them and eventually people moved away from Copan and went to other Mayan cities. The rulers all had funny names: Smoke Snake, Smoke Shell, Sunrise and, of course, 18 Rabbit. Chichen Itza and Tikal were both bigger than Copan, but Copan had so many beautiful carved statues and even a carved staircase so I thought it was the most beautiful.

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Lots of Macaws:
The scarlet macaw is the national bird of Honduras. Macaw Mountain is a sanctuary and rehabilitation centre for scarlet macaws, toucans, and other tropical birds. Lots of people foolishly buy wild birds from poachers and then can't care for them properly. These birds can live for 80 years if cared for properly. Like other parrots (in the wild) they find a mate and are together for the rest of their lives. If their partner dies they can get very lonely. Once these birds are rehabilitated they are eventually released at the gates to the Mayan ruins of Copan where a large group of scarlet macaws live.

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Ailsa, Fraser and I spent the day looking for feathers on the ground and we ended up with an amazing collection. There was one part of the centre where we were allowed to have the birds sit on our shoulders. It felt so cool but they were very heavy!

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Posted by Salsa Sojourns 06:00 Archived in Honduras Tagged birds ruins hotsprings Comments (4)

Ek Balam & Sak'awa Cenote

A local boy guides us to a beautiful underground swimming hole, by Ailsa

sunny 35 °C

After spending the night in a traditionally built palm-roofed hut we headed to Ek Balam to explore the ruins there. These ruins are smaller than Chichen Itza but we could climb the pyramid and touch the stones as practically nothing was roped off and the jungle was close on every side. We were the only visitors there for the first hour of the day so it felt really cool like we were discovering something in the middle of the jungle.

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Once the tour buses began to arrive we decided to leave and look for a cenote to cool off in. There is one at Ek Balam, but it sees lots of visitors each day and we were looking for something a little less touristy. A few villages further on we met a boy about my age who said he would show us a private cenote. He rode in our car and gave us directions. I couldn't understand what he said his name was so we just smiled at him. We parked our car and paid the landowner, SeƱor Antonio, to visit his cenote. We took a long path through the forest until we reached a huge hole in the ground. There was a wooden staircase which we climbed down and when we got to the bottom we looked around and saw turquoise blue water surrounding a little island, lots of little fish swimming around and vines, moss and trees stretching down from the ground above us. We threw on our swimsuits and tested out the water with our toes. It felt so good because it was cold and we were really hot from climbing the ruins. We swam around and then noticed a platform that we used to jump off into the middle of the cenote. We swam for about an hour until our parents made us get out and get dressed again. I would have stayed there for five hours.

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We climbed back out into the heat and got back in the car. We dropped our new friend off and headed to our next stop: Valladolid, to find our hotel and get some lunch.

Posted by Salsa Sojourns 14:02 Archived in Mexico Tagged ruins cenote Comments (0)

Rhymes with chicken pizza!

Chichen Itza, by Mirren

sunny 30 °C

We checked into the hotel on the grounds of Chichen Itza but the site was closed to visitors for the night. Instead we got to go swimming in the hotel pool. I was cool with that! The hotel was really fancy and the huge breakfast the next morning was delicious. Here is the view of the Observatory at Chichen Itza from the window in our room:

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The gates near our hotel opened early so we got to the ruins before any tour buses and had the whole place practically to ourselves. We made sure we had our sun hats, water to drink and our camera and went to meet our guide. Barrio has been a guide at archaeological sites all over Central America for the last 25 years and he told us all about the Mayans. Their human sacrifices, war strategies, ball games, calendar, religious beliefs and their building techniques. Only 4% of Chichen Itza has been excavated. The other 96% is still covered by the jungle.

The main pyramid was built so that on Solstice (longest day or shortest day) and Equinox (same length of day and night) the sun casts a shadow that makes it look like there are snakes crawling up and down the sides. There are four main sacred themes that were repeated on a lot of carvings on the buildings: jaguar (nighttime sky), eagle (daytime sky), snake (Mother Earth) and mask (mankind). At one special spot outside of the main pyramid we could clap and the echo sounded like an eagle's cry. It was pretty amazing!

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The ball court was a bit like a quidditch pitch. And all the snake carvings made us think of Harry Potter! Very cool!!

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By 10 am it was too hot in the sun for us and it was starting to get busy so we headed back for another swim in the pool!

Posted by Salsa Sojourns 09:00 Archived in Mexico Tagged ruins Comments (0)

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