Honduras in Three Parts: Copan Ruinas

Another season in Alaska followed by four snowy months in Wyoming.  About to return to Alaska for a 3rd season. Yeah, I was ready for a warm weather vacation. My hope was Colombia or elsewhere in South America, but ticket prices were too high. At half the ticket price, Central America sounded a lot better, and $600 savings goes a long way in Latin America.  Why Honduras? Good question. It seemed as good a place as any other. That most of my friends hadn’t been there either (unlike the tourist meccas of Guatemala or Costa Rica) added to the allure.  When I found a sea kayaking adventure, I was sold.

After arriving in San Pedro Sula – easily the ugliest city I have ever seen – I traveled the next morning by bus to the mountain town of Copan Ruinas. I had wanted for some time to take spanish lessons while traveling, but was never willing to feel stuck in a big city for an extended period. Copan seemed like a perfect place to study – mountains, small town, spectacular Mayan ruins, and opportunities for outdoor adventure.

No hablo bien el espanol

Ixbalanque Spanish School was a great choice. Immersion Spanish lessons in the mornings. Warm but not hot weather. Friendly locals. Explorations in the afternoons. Cheap food. Yeah, life was rough.
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Mototaxis are a cheap and fun form of transportation in Copan.

Mototaxis are a cheap and fun form of transportation in Copan.

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An all too common sight throughout Latin America.  It amazes me that people passed out drunk are allowed to lay on the street all day.

An all too common sight throughout Latin America. It amazes me that people passed out drunk are allowed to lay on the street all day.

One of my disappointments on this trip is that I didn’t take more pictures of people. In Ecuador I wanted to photograph the women, because they were so beautiful. In Copan, I wanted to photograph the men. Their faces had great character, and would have made great portrait subjects. But I wasn’t shooting many photos, and was feeling too shy.

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Puedo tomar una foto? Oh wait, that’s right, I have to be brave enough to ask the question!!

Me gusta mucho las ruinas!

The ruins of Copan are incredible. I haven’t seen other Mayan ruins, but I have visited other sites in South America, and lots of ruins in the southwest United States. Copan is quite impressive.
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The famous heiroglyphic stairway of Copan.

The famous heiroglyphic stairway of Copan.

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Stelae such as this are apparently what make Copan so remarkable - other Mayan sites don't have so many of the same quality.

Stelae such as this are apparently what make Copan so remarkable – other Mayan sites don’t have so many of the same quality.

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Life-size recreation of the Rosalilla temple that is still buried in the Copan ruins.  Pretty amazing.

Life-size recreation of the Rosalilla temple that is still buried in the Copan ruins. Pretty amazing.

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I decided to shell out too much money – $40 ($40!!!  In central America!) – to do a zipline canopy tour. One of the lines was a full kilometer long (that’s .6 miles for the metrically challenged), which made for a VERY fun ride.

WOO HOO!!!  Always fun.  How can anyone complain about ride on a 1 kilometer cable strung above the trees?

WOO HOO!!! Always fun. How can anyone complain about doing this?

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36 seconds of your life to experience ziplining second-hand.

Buy local!

As part of our tuition, the school provided one weekly group activity, so one afternoon we went for a horse ride in the hills outside Copan. I’m not a fan of horses (sorry Ashlie!!!!), but I’m always game for exploring. The highlight was visiting a small Chorti Maya village and a cooperative of weavers. The women of the village have banded together to weave scarves to sell to tourists. The money goes toward educating their children, so I bought two beautiful scarves.

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Sieze the day, and shrink the…

A few of us hired a guide on the weekend to drive us to a volcano in Guatemala. It made for a long day in the car, but we had a great time hiking up the volcano, and exploring the lake in the summit crater. Three of us jumped in the (COLD) water. After all, how often can you say you swam in a volcanic lake in Guatemala?

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Trying to convince ourselves that it won't actually be THAT cold.

Trying to convince ourselves that it won’t actually be THAT cold.

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But it was, in fact, quite cold. As I’m sure my expression adequately conveys.

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My friends will be amused by the fact that I taught a mini Salsa dancing clinic one night.  A few of the students wanted to learn basic steps, I said I knew a little bit.  My teaching – like my dancing – sucked, but the four of us had a great time, and that night is one of the highlights of my trip.

Please sir, may I have some clean sheets?

So, what wasn’t so great? My homestay (set up through the Spanish school). The family was pleasant to me, but I certainly didn’t feel welcomed. And heaven forbid my room should be cleaned. After 6 nights there I asked for fresh sheets and towels, and was refused. This was after the director of the school told me that they should be changed “every couple of days.”

Solution? Bail out on the homestay and check into a hotel.  Somewhat on accident, I ended up in the nicest hotel in Copan, where I was pampered for 2 nights,including my first hot (vs. cold or warm) shower since arriving in Honduras.  If you should find yourself in Copan and want more than a basic room, you could do a lot worse than Terramaya!

My little corner of bliss.

My little corner of bliss.

You want to serve me breakfast in this garden?  OK.  If I must.

You want to serve me breakfast in this garden? OK. If I must.

After 9 days in Copan, I took an 8 hour bus ride to Omega Lodge, bordering Pico Bonito National Park. But that’s the next post, coming soon…

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