Friday, January 27, 2017

Tortugal Marina - our home in Guatemala!

The restaurant from the dock.

Scott Free at Tortugal, The bridge is in the distance.

We had a fun New Year's Dinner at Casa Perico. Around 18
Cruisers joined us for the evening.
Jodi, Thomas, Heather, Dave, Ellen, Woody, Marsha, Scott
Trixie and Andreas
Marsha, Scott, Trixie, Andreas, Thomas, Heather, Dave and
Uli and Heather
We arrived back on our boat at Tortugal Marina in Guatemala on 12/29. Lots of our friends were still there finishing up boat projects before heading out of the Rio. Scott Free was hauled out of the water for 5 days to get her bottom painted, new batteries and some instruments installed. We stayed at Tortugal and just spent the days over at Ram supervising the work. Then it was back at the dock to finish up a lot of small projects - the biggest being out new stove (see a picture at the bottom).  After a 3 day holiday seeing Copan in Honduras, we are ready to cross the "dreaded" bar of the River and head north up to Belize. High Tide is 7 pm tomorrow night and we'll be on our way (hopefully). Next post - Placencia, Belize.

Our good friends Woody & Judy on Lapis

There is always a Mexican Train Dominos game on Sundays

We stayed in this little Casa at our Marina while our boat was
up on the hard at Ram getting it's bottom painted.

The view down the south dock towards the restaurant

We love to walk in the mornings out of the
Marina and into town

Going through a two story forest, the top are teak
trees and the bottom cocoa bushes (here's a cocoa pod)

Gorgeous Flamboyant Trees are everywhere

There are fresh flour tortillas to pick up and
 have for lunch later.

Sometimes we walk over the tall bridge that spans the Rio
Dulce. Here's a view looking at the north side of the river.

On the south side of the bridge there are views of Nana Juana,
Ram, and Mar Marine Boatyards

Scott taught a class in solar panel design and installation
for cruisers and locals

Scott mid project wiring up new instruments

Scott Free at dawn on the dock at Tortugal

Our new stove. Only two burners versus the
three I had before but much better spaced
and the left burner is very powerful.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Mayan Temple Complex at Copan, Honduras

A Scarlet Macaw at Copan, the National bird of Honduras
Our driver Otto picked us up at 8:00 am so that we could get an early start exploring the ruins before it got really hot. It was the perfect time of day and we spent around 3 hours touring the site. We hired one of the official guides, Juan, whose family has been at Copan "forever".  This is one of the most beautiful Mayan sites we've been to and I'd love to come back with my watercolors and do some paintings.  Before coming to any historic location I try and read about the place in advance. I read "Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan" by John Lloyd Stephens. He and Frederick Catherwood visited here in 1841 and it was wonderful to see the original after enjoying Catherwood's detailed drawings. Copan was occupied for 2,000 years and was the capitol city of a major Classic Period Kingdom from the 5th to the 9th Century. At it's peak it had 20,000 inhabitants and covered 100 square miles. It is now a UNESCO heritage site.
We did a lot of hiking around the large temple complex.

Like Quirigua the stele are beautiful and very detailed.

Some are original and others replicas, the originals being
in museums.

We sat at several spots with our guide Juan while he talked about the history of the site. Here we are looking at the ball court.
The final version was completed in 738 AD.
Back in Copan Ruinas we had lunch at Cafe San Rafael. The owner trained as a cheesemaker in the U.S. and makes over 20 types of cow and goat cheeses. We shared a platter of various cheeses, veggies, fruit, bread and crackers for lunch and then took some back to Guatemala with us.  In the afternoon we enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool - it was great to cool off. That evening we had dinner at Carnitas Nia Lola, a nearby restaurant owned by our guide Juan's brother. We had a mixed grill with lots of local accompaniments. And the waitresses carry in the beer and some of the food on their heads - fun!
Our guide introduced us to several archaeologists
working on the site.

The famous Hieroglyphic Staircase - 2200 glyphs form the longest known
Maya text. Figures of the most famous rulers are spaced on the stairs. The
entire area is protected by a tent from the elements.

Many of the buildings still have trees in place. We enjoyed
the shade throughout the complex - very unlike the completely
open Chichen Itza. But there wasn't any grass or trees originally
here. It was all white concrete and red buildings!

The light was wonderful in the early morning.

Heather, Scott, Dennis and Doris on the temple stairs

There were stairs everywhere.

This is the west complex 

This retaining wall protects the Acropolis now but the Copan
River diverted at one point and eroded away a significant
part of the structure.

This relief has been given the nickname "Disco Jaguar" and
it fits!!

Alter Q depicts the succession of 16 kings and is one of the most
famous monuments here.

This crocodile must have just had a good meal.

I enjoyed the beautiful forest all around the site. There are some magnificent trees.

A selection of cheeses at Cafe San Rafael
On the way back from Copan our car lost power and we had to spend 3 hours at a gas station until Otto's friend came to take us the rest of the way. Poor Otto had to arrange a tow back to the Rio. Luckily the gas station managed to give us some lunch; chicken, rice and beans. And Scott and I took a walk up into the countryside and enjoyed views of local farms.
On the way back we did some grocery shopping at the larger supermarket in Morales, about 40 minutes from the Rio. The car was totally packed with ourselves, our baggage and the food.

Our waitress at Carnitas Nia Lola

And a photo taken with some of the other customers. Our guide
from the morning at Copan introduced us around.

A glimpse of the our meal including mixed grill on the left,
fried plantains on the right and rice, beans, salsa and pickled

This cow found us equally fascinating!

This is beautiful country, mostly cattle farms.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Quirigua, Guatemala

Scott shows off the height of these stela.  The
highest is 35 feet.
We left Costa Rica on 12/28 and after one night in Guatemala City, took the bus down to the Rio Dulce and our boat, Scott Free. For the last four years we've kept it in the water at Tortugal Marina. More on our time there in another post - but for now, I'll cover our land trip to Quirigua and Copan (in my next post) January 17 to 19, 2017.
Dennis and Doris from "Magic" joined us for the 3 day excursion. Otto Archila ( drove us to Copan, Honduras and back. On the way there we stopped at Quirigua in Guatemala and on the way back, at the Maxi Dispensa Supermarket in Morales. It was about a 4.5 hour drive with a border crossing between Guatemala and Honduras.
Quirigua was a trading hub during the Mayan Classic Period (200 - 900 AD). It's biggest success story was the capture and beheading of the greatest Copan King (whose name is translated as 18 Rabbits). The elaborately carved stelae are among the largest in the New World.
After crossing into Honduras, the Hotel Camino Maya Hotel was our home for two nights and it was very nice. We found it on TripAdvisor and - $74 a night with a full breakfast. Our room was very attractively decorated with a large private tiled bathroom. The rooms surrounded a courtyard and balconies overlooked the central plaza.
That night we had dinner across the Plaza with views from the second floor at Twisted. Our meal was excellent and a great deal. We had the special that night which included soup or salad and dessert for the price of the entree alone. It was pork roast with potatoes and veggies. Everything was delicious and beautifully presented (I've included pictures!). Two for one drinks from 5 to 6 pm too.
My next posting will continue the trip to the Mayan ruins of Copan.

Looking down the large main plaza at Quirigua

The Mayan Kings had portraits of themselves
carved into huge blocks of stone with
heiroglyphics detailing their reign.
Lovely shaded walks led throughout the site.
Restored stairs lead up to a raised court 

Doris is a weaver and artist. She had a long
conversation with this weaver from Lake
Atilan region and hopes to connect with her
later in the season.

Scott relaxes after our walk around the Park

These gorgeous flowers in all shades of blue and white
caught my eye.

As did the skirt fabric that Doris bought at the weaver's shop.

The streets of Copan Ruinus were busy with Tuk tuks

Our rooms at the Maya Camino Hotel had views of the
main plaza.

Doris enjoying her Happy Hour  Marguerita at Twisted

Scott's Salad

And brownie ala mode 

The sun lit interior courtyard at our hotel
The main entrance at the Maya Camino Hotel in Copan Ruinus