Honduras: Parrots and parades

We’re spending Easter in Honduras and have been here a week or so already. It feels like we’ve had a really busy week as we’ve been out and about hiking almost every day. Good exercise but there’s not much to write about or even to photograph. Here are the few little beasties spotted on the way:

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Humming bird, oropendula, some kind of woodpecker, not sure what the orange one is.

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However, fortunately at the start of the week we visited a place called Macaw Mountain and today we’ve been enjoying a Good Friday procession so this post is going to be photo-heavy and light on words!

So first, our feathered friends. Macaw Mountain is a really well-run sanctuary for rescued and donated birds, mainly parrots but also toucans and few birds of prey. It’s main aim seems to be to reintroduce scarlet macaws back into the local ruins, Copan where they were once a common sight.

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And this is a successful pair we saw the next day.

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There were also blue and gold macaws. I love how their eyes look like a zebra’s!

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Shower time!

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And my favourite, military macaws.

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I got a bit transfixed by the beauty of the feathers!

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There were a few of what I think are different kinds of amazon parrots.

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The keel-billed toucans were viscous – their beaks were very jagged on close inspection! There were four in an aviary together and one was attacking another whilst a third refereed and occasionally interjected (first picture has the victim pinned down). Later, one was roaming free and didn’t like having his photo taken so charged at me! I screamed and legged it!

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These were the other inmates.

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Because lots of the birds are ex-pets and thus very tame, you can also have the macaws perch on you for photographs! I didn’t dare (quite scared of birds but getting braver!) but here’s Dean and a little kid.

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Onto today. We arrived in Santa Rosa de Copan yesterday on the understanding that it is one of the absolute best places in Honduras to spend time during Semana Santa. It turns out this is probably the case but no one else has figured it out! There were probably only half a dozen white tourists, though I’m sure there were other Central American visitors.

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We timed our visit to coincide with one of the week’s many processions, on Good Friday. It’s considered the highlight because of the alfombras (carpets) which are patterns on the cobblestones made of brightly coloured sawdust, running a good mile or so, beginning at the city’s cathedral.

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Groups of locals, each responsible for one of the fourteen ‘stations’ (where the crowds would stop to hear the sections of the story from Jesus’ arrest to His crucifixion) , begin creating the designs at 4am and many were still working on them by the time we were exploring at around 7:30. Some are made using cardboard or polystyrene stencils whilst others are sketched into the base colour by hand, using a printed picture for reference. It seemed a great community effort.

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Sweeping to tidy up the edges.

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The leaflet we picked up said the procession would start at 8am but there was a lot of waiting around as people continued to gather. There was also a film crew and a strong police presence. Three boys in charge of loud wooden winding contraptions stood ready to clear the way and beckon the crowds and the band smartened themselves up.

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Here are the alfombras prior to destruction! The third picture is an example of how each station was marked.

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It was a good hour later that the purple-robed men emerged from the cathedral bearing a statue of Jesus carrying the cross on their shoulders. They were lead by the priest, who addressed the large crowd at every station using a wired microphone attached to an accompanying minivan for amplification! Between each stop, the band played and the crowd sang as they walked.

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For one of the sections, actors pretended to be Jesus and the Roman guards:

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We stayed until around 11 o’clock and they were only half way around the circuit! Without a doubt, the cheery cleaning up squad deserve an award!

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Happy Easter all 🙂

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