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February 2010

 

On more than one occasion, we have mentioned that the cruising lifestyle has demanded our patience. Many times our patience related to the weather. Of course most of the countries we have visited operate at a much slower pace than the frantic U.S., and patience is often required when dealing with residents and bureaucrats in those countries. We spent most of February patiently (not!) waiting for our generator to be repaired. A mechanic quickly fixed the exhaust manifold pressure cap fitting but he could not fix the broken heat exchanger. We had to order a new one from the states. It normally takes about two weeks to receive parts from the U.S., but in this instance it took us over three weeks to get the part. Our generator is mainly required for us to run our freezer. If we don't have our generator working, we need to be plugged into power at a marina dock to operate our freezer. In addition to the expense of repairing the generator, we also had the expense of staying in a marina for three weeks. The worst part is that we were missing out on some great diving and John's volleyball playing in Roatan.  

 

cows at shipyardDuring our waiting time, we hauled the boat and painted the bottom at a shipyard in La Ceiba, Honduras. We have been in a few shipyards, but this is our first with a herd of cows. The shipyard employs several guards from a security company. They walk around the property with short barreled shotguns and admit visitors into the gated entrance. Since there is really not much for the security guards to do, they also "guard" the cows. They release them from the small fenced area and watch as they graze on grass in the shipyard areas (no shotgun required for this duty). Later in the afternoon, the guard milks one of the cows and stores the milk in an emptied plastic soft drink bottle. These bottles are stored in the freezer at the shipyard. We don't know what eventually happens to the milk. Its the first time we saw security guards doing triple duty as guards, cowboys, and milk maids. 

mayan carving in Copan 

After working for another ten days on a long list of boat projects, we decided to escape to Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The attractions to the small town in northern Honduras are the Mayan ruins just outside the city. Last year we visited the Mayan ruins in Tikal ( see July 2009 Cruising Log). Tikal is massive and large (supporting over 100,000 residents), while Copan is much smaller (supporting only about 20,000 residents), but with very ornate stone carvings. These carvings depict the various rulers of Copan from 426 AD to 825 AD and also extensive hieroglyphs that record the history of the Mayan nation and the 17 rulers of this Mayan state over the 400 years of its history. Similar to Tikal, researchers believe rapid population growth in Copan required increased agricultural cultivation and deforestation of the area. There was massive erosion in the area and the land could no longer support the growing population. There was evidence of malnutrition and life expectancy actually decreased in the last days of the empire. After the collapse of the empire, the decreasing population scattered to find more fertile areas to live.




Original Mayan carving in Copan

 

 

Original sculptureMayan alter in Copan   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Altar recording ruling history of Copan                                Inspiration for Snagglepuss?

 

The sculpted figure of the macaw is prominent throughout the Mayan city and beautiful live macaws welcome visitors at the entrance to the ruins today. An impressive ruin at Copan is the Mayan ball court built in 738 AD, the second largest Mayan ball court discovered in Central America. Archeologists have discovered two earlier ball courts built beneath this ball court construction. The rules of the ballgame are not known, but is believed that the game was played with a heavy solid rubber ball and that players were required to keep the ball in the air using only their hips or thighs. There is also the belief that the losing team was sacrificed at the end of the game.

 

Macaws at CopanMayan ballcourt

 

 

 




 

Brilliant macaws at Copan                                                Mayan ballcourt


Napping in the hot springs

Remote hot springs

We drove about an hour for 12 miles outside Copan on a rough dirt road, fording 3 - 4 small streams, through several small villages and coffee plantations to reach a hot springs. The attraction was originally a hot water fall that cascades into a river. Recently a series of pools have been constructed with native rock along the hillside which divert hot water and cold water together to create several "jacuzzi-style" soaking pools. It was a beautiful location and we only wished that we had more allowed time to enjoy the warm water before we needed to head back on the rough road before dark.

The generator parts finally arrived and were installed. We untied the dock lines and were happy to be back on the hook (at anchor) in Roatan as the month ended. On the last day of the month, John took the dinghy in to watch the gold medal Olympic hockey game but he had to watch it with a bunch of Canadian cruisers. It was an exciting game but Canada won over the U.S. 3-2 in overtime. We plan to spend one week in Roatan before we head back to Belize to meet guests in mid-March.