Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Las Ruinas and a Noche of Tomales

The heat has officially struck Honduras.

After spending the entirety of Sunday morning touring the famous Copan ruins in the hottest sun I have yet experienced in Honduras, I spent the entire afternoon lying in bed dizzy and headachy, recovering from dehydration and heat stroke. Thankfully I am feeling MUCH better now and am drinking more water than ever I have before!

And on another happy note, I was relieved to discover this weekend that against all odds I have NOT acquired lice from the children! This may seem like too much information, but I really think it is worth celebrating. Just as Honduras has transformed me into a devoted consumer of agua, it has also transformed me into an obsessive hair washer in hopes of deterring all lice from setting up house in my hair. 

Enough of lice and my body's responses to extreme temperature. Here are some pictures of LAS RUINAS!!

Pictures of the great Mayan temples. There are layers of older temples beneath this one. 

The picture above is of the mansions of the Mayans; the political elite lived the closest to the great temples and political building. Everyone else lived on the other side of a river. 

(Proof that I was there, FOR REAL)

Looking out over the playing field for the Mayan version of "futball." This was a religious sport, and the ball they played with was supposed to be kept in the air the entire time, representing the flight of the sun. After every game the captain of the winning team received an award of great honor- to be sacrificed to one of their gods.

This is a carving of the sun god. If you look closely you can see that he is cross-eyed. 

This staircase is huge, and it contains carvings that are  referred to as the Mayan encyclopedia. 

It is hard to capture just how HUGE this site is, but here is a (weak) attempt! You can see the large buildings stretching up beyond the one in the foreground. Back in the day there were no trees here, and the plaza was completely covered with white limestone to reflect the sunlight. 

Such intricate carving! Having studied the stelae of Ancient Greece and Babylon in an Art History class, it was interesting to see the same form show up on the other side of the world in Honduras. 

And of course, what would a trip to the ruins be without a photo of myself sitting on top of them? This is where Mayan rulers would stand, in the middle of the lime-stone covered plaza, to speak to the people. 

(And just a side note - it is always fun to see how living in another country, away from friends and family, can transform the way we make friends. The girl sitting to on the right of me is Kodee, a new friend I met on the streets of Antigua, Guatemala several weeks ago. After staying in touch via facebook she ended up coming to Copan for the weekend. It was fun to have a visitor!)

It was a surreal experience to be at the site of these ruins. Just looking over these pictures it is strange to think about people so different from myself sitting and standing on the very same rocks as as I am in the pictures above. Who would have thought that some white girl from waaaay up north, would one day be posing for a cheesy touristy photograph in the middle of the most important political and religious site of the people who laboured to pile those rocks, one by one, upon one another?

Another highlight of my week was going to the home of two of the girls who attend Camp Hope for the birthday party of their older brother. This was unlike any other birthday party I have been to before! For one thing, we appeared to be the only guests - and we had never met the older brother before yesterday. For another, my friend and I were served food before anyone else in the family - even the birthday boy. They did not even begin their own meal until after we had left their home, but instead chatted with us while we ate our plates of tomales. They even insisted that we take several tomales along for the road!

While eating our meal, the mother spoke with us at length about how prayer and her faith in God has helped her in her life. It was really a remarkable conversation - all about how she has seen God intervening in her and her family's lives in big ways. For example, like many Hondurans her family was living in a house made of mud bricks. They were miserable - for one thing because every time it rains (which is a frequent occurrence during rainy season!) the house leaked a lot. For another thing, there is a kind of bug that sometimes lives in mud houses that is dangerous, and even deadly. After much prayer for the sake of her family, they came into possession of a lovely home made of cement. It is really amazing to see how much they value and appreciate such a simple building. From speaking with them, it was evident that they viewed their material possessions as pure gifts from God. 

After leaving their home, I felt honoured by this family's hospitality and touched by their true gratitude for the material gifts God gives us. Their willingness to share special tomales reserved for special occasions, their warm greetings as we came to their home, the insistence of the kids to carry our bags for us while accompanying us to our taxi when we left, and most of all their incredible thankfulness for something as simple as a house that does not leak and is not infested with bugs - all reminded me of what true hospitality is, and what it means to live in the consciousness that whatever we own is not a right but is a gift from God that should be used accordingly!


  1. Sounds like an amazing adventure! It is so easy to get caught up in all the things we own. I'm constantly reminded (working at Ten Thousand Villages) of the people who are far less fortunate than us who just want a roof over their heads and food to feed their families. What a different life we live in North America. It's crazy.

  2. Suena interesante. lo que han dicho,, pero no es la realidad. la realidad es otra. en este pais.

    adelante honduras

    felicidades por tu blog.. muy interesante.. tus aventuras. por honduras.