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Published: February 12th 2009
The wide open street where the train would have gone down the middle, with the weight station at the end. Now most of the buildings are closed.
* Double bussed my way to Quirigua, found one of the two hotels, settled in.
* Visited it's ruins and crazy big banana plantations and saw my first "banana crossing"!
The version with "bananas in pyjamas" stuck in its head:
The way to get to Quirigua is through 2 buses changing at an intersection that seems to serve that sole purpose. A helpful spot, the workers there seem to know every bus route to anywhere and are incredibly helpful! The bus helper I asked in Chiquimula about Quirigua came from there so was perfect for information and told me its only a very small spot, perfect for what I wanted after Chiquimula.
Arriving at a footbridge on the main road, I wandered my way through its couple of winding streets to where my hotel was. While the place looked constantly small, the fact that it kept on going and had many other small streets as I later discovered makes it appear much smaller than it actually is. There are really only 2 hotels, and the first I asked was a seriously lazy chick and told me 50Q. The second told me she was giving
Bananas as far as the eye can see
The whole walk down the road, bananas, bananas, bananas... mindnumbingly beautiful
me a precio especial (special price) for students of 60, so I told her the other was 50 and suddenly the price was 40 heh. Lonely Planet was on the money about these two hotels and the people that run them... play them off each other and you get a much better deal, and you don't have to feel nasty as really neither owner is very nice! I'm glad I only paid 40 though as it was a dark depressing room with an off green colour and only one window to a dark corridor! But I wasn't there to live inside, it was ruins time!
The walk to the ruins can be taken 2 different ways and I chose to follow the old railway tracks and I'm so glad I did! The town is an old United Fruit Company town, and the railway tracks now unused and grown over are from the same period. The old weighing station and widened street for loading and hauling away the bananas is all still there, run down and ghost town like with boarded up buildings around it and overgtrown old run down trucks. Its an interesting view into the legacy of the
United Fruit Company. While it performed incredible evils, it also apparently had an excellent role to play in the protection and restoration of the Quirigua ruins, so it seems we have that to the thankful for. The walk continues out of town along banana plantations down to the main road that swings right and then continues for a good while through nothing but banana plantations and its a magical walk! The road is well made, with protected shoulders for cyclists and walkers, and the pure simplicity of colours and endless trees all the same blending with the blue sky and surrounding green hills is a feast for the eyes I reckon. Walking long enough through an area like this you could almost forget that the rest of the world exists. Then I found my first banana crossing! The photo will do more justice than my words, but it is a metal hanging conveyer belt type setup used to transport the bananas on hooks from the plantation fields to the loading areas. For the moment it was inactive and the part that would block the road was swung to one side, but I hoped it would be operating later! A little
further on past that, you reach the ruins... a well setup, un cramped area.
The ruins themselves are a much much smaller scale than Copan, but have larger more impressive Stelae with incredible carvings. They are freakin huge, and I don't think the photos cover the scale, but it is worth looking up just how big they are as remember that much of them is buried underground to keep the whole thing upright! The teomple, the solitary temple, is impressive, and while well kept the sire also blends and feels much more involved with nature. There are large zoomorphs, carved on all sides of large boulders including the bottom, which baffles the mind as to how difficult it would have been to do back then with the intricacy of the carving and delicate nature of the stone. My favourite and one that blew me away was, amongst other things, a very intricate priest/ess with a headress curving over and round the rock. Some others were also quite different and so equally impressive, including the first short fat stelae of a person of interest, and another who had seemingly a gothic style looking goblin animal on his head. There were
tourists around but they were the good kind, many locals, so it was awesome to wander among them hearing their Spanish and explanations of the site.
After the ruins, the slow peaceful walk back to the hotel was just as good as walking there, and I got to see the banana crossing in action, blocking the road and all traffic heh, a wicked thing to see that I never expected to exist. It caused quite a little traffic jam as it runs for quite a while. I checked out more of Quirigua and liked the small windy town feel, where you can never see more than about half of the street you are on, nor can you tell how large the place is. Once the sun went down everything went dead so I retured for the night and decided next up had to be Rio Dulce, rumoured to be very beautiful and a little riverside tranquility sounded very appealing. I don't survive too long away from water and felt that I really needed a fix!
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