Today we went to the Maya ruins, the main reason for coming here. We decided to come here rather than Tikal, the big site in Guatemala, as we thought it would be less crowded and touristy. We think we made the right decision. We got there early and had a lovely day, sunny but interspersed with a few cooling showers. We got a guide, Julio (though not Iglesias, as he was quick to point out). At the site there is an acropolis, a ball game court, a famous staircase covered in hyroglyphics and some amazing statues. Mayan civilisation started well before Christ but the heyday here was between 400 and 800 AD. The city of 25,000 went downhill after this due to overpopulation, too much demand on resources, deforestation etc (sound familiar?).
Most of the sites that have been excavated relate to ruling and religion as the more humble houses were made of wood and have rotted away. The site is famous for its sculptures and symbolism, like kings emerging from the mouth of a snake, which was the symbol of power. Some of these images seem strangely familiar from films etc. The entire valley is dotted with thousands of archeological sites.
What made today even more magical was the red macaws that fly freely around the ruins.