Our latest weekend adventure took us all the way (about 9 hours travelling) to Copan; the location of the only Mayan ruins in Honduras. We had been planning to leave on Thursday but Brynja’s sister from Iceland (spelt with funny Icelandic letters so we’ll call her Thodey from now on!) was coming to Honduras and was held up in Boston. We managed to set off on Friday though and had a pretty uneventful journey to Copan via San Pedro Sula. San Pedro is meant to be the most dangerous city in the world at the moment but as we were using the Hedman Alas bus (safe, but expensive) we didn’t have to venture into the city proper.
When we arrived in Copan we had a group of men trying to get us to choose them to transport us to our hotel, however one man won. He came up to us and asked ‘do you wanna have a ride in my tuk tuk?’ (the little mototaxis) – we’d never heard this word for the taxi before so we were intrigued. Plus he had the cheapest price. We kept forgetting his name over the course of the weekend (it’s either Ronaldo or Rodolfo) so from now he will be called Copan Man. In typical Honduran style, Copan Man was determined to squeeze as many people into his tiny taxi as possible so we were joined by ‘random traveller’. We stopped on the way to our hotels so that Brynja and Thodey could buy yet more mosquito repellent (it doesn’t seem to help anyway) at which point Copan Man told the random traveller to wait on the street so he could chat with me and Laura. He started telling us about a horse riding trip he could do with us the next day, he reassured us that he had ‘5 very safe horses’ and that if we wanted to stop for a swim in the river ‘the horses will wait for you, it’s no problem’, as if they would be likely to just wander off otherwise. Anyway, we then dropped off random traveller at his hostel to which Copan Man then exclaimed ‘let’s go for a tour!’. So we zoomed up and down the cobbled streets (it felt like a rollarcoaster at some points) and he told us where the bars and one club was. We eventually arrived at our hotel and were all ready for bed to be honest, but we were all really hungry so we freshened up and headed straight out again. We had already decided we were craving some non-Honduran food (we’re useless travellers aren’t we?!) and set out to find Jim’s Pizzeria (Lonely Planet recommended). We found a pizza place, we think it was Jim’s, and had some yummy food. We then wandered back to the hotel and bought some pretty jewelery from the street stalls and also got our breakfast for the next day (this turned into a routine of Frosties, milk and orange juice when we could find it). We then discovered the cute little pool on the roof of our hotel (about the size of a double bed), it was amazing! You could see views over Copan and it was great to chill out.
Thodey, Brynja and me in the little pool!
The next day we decided to go for the horseriding trip – despite Laura having never been on a horse before and me being quite afraid after being thrown off when I was little. We kept strong though and one by one got on our horses in a little paddock outside Copan Ruinas (the name of the village) – my horse was called Princesa and I discovered pretty quickly she didn’t want to behave for me. We were immediately led out onto the main road and needless to say none of us had much control over the horses (apart from Thodey who was a bit of a pro!!) and Princesa had to be moved a different way by a cowboy guy a couple of times. We quickly realised that all of the horses had a desire to be the leader of the pack and on narrow paths this caused some problems. Princesa in particular was very impatient and we had some words. Although I’m guessing she was a Spanish speaking horse so she probably didn’t understand me. The poor horses though had to take us all up a very steep, rocky hill in the heat to a little village in the mountains. Hopefully they enjoyed the views as much as we did. We were harrassed quite a bit by some girls in the village to buy necklaces and dolls. We felt mean saying no but we had already bought one doll the night before (and they’re not the most attractive things) and we’d already bought other jewelry etc. The children, in the village and other places, though are very persistent and even become quite aggressive when you say no to them… which discourages you more from buying from them. From the village walked along a small trail to some ruins that had something to do with fertility and giving birth. Copan Man suggested we try sitting in the birthing seat – I think he just wanted to laugh at us. We then got back on our faithful horses (yes, they did wait) and made our way back down the hill – which was actually a lot more uncomfortable than going up. Princesa also decided to trot and gallop a few times which made me wish I had brought a sports bra. We then rode along the river which was nice but again didn’t seem very easy for the horses. In the end we had a good time on the horses but we were all quite relieved to be on our feet again 3 hours later.
In the afternoon the rest of the girls wanted to do a canopy tour and I was eventually persuaded to join them after about 30 minutes of stressing about money. It was expensive but I’m so glad I did it! The guys who do the tours were great and took lots of photos for us and the mountains we did it in were amazing. The views were fantastic and we did about 15 or 20 zip lines – some were really long and you could zoom along it really fast while they pulled the rope up and down. All the guys were doing crazy tricks to show off and even persuaded Laura to give it a go upside down – the rest of us were too scared. It was definitely worth the money for the adrenaline rush, I’ve missed it!! Although, having sat on horses for 3 hours and then in harnesses for an hour our backs, bums and tums were hurting for the rest of the weekend.
That night we had dinner in a lovely rooftop restaurant and afterwards we went on our usual hunt for Frosties. It also turns out that I dream in Spanish – at some point in the night Laura heard me sleep talking in Spanish, saying ‘no se’ and ‘porque’! I just have figure out what I’m dreaming about…
We got up bright and early the next day to go to the Copan Ruins (Lonely Planet advised to avoid the crowds by getting there at 8am but I think you only need to do this in peak season as it was empty the whole time we were there). It was cool to have the place almost to ourselves though, especially as our guide told us in high season you can’t even take photos because there are so many people. Our guide, Marvin, was lovely and kept cracking awful jokes and then reassuring us ‘Im just joking’ even when it was quite obvious he was – we didn’t believe that the Mayans were buried with their iPads. He was also the slowest picture taker ever but we loved him. As well as our guide, the ruins themselves were pretty impressive. Here are the things I learnt that I can actually still remember…
1. the Mayans built cities upon cities, so beneath the ruins you can see today there are about 4 or 5 more cities beneath. They are currently discovering the structures underneath the ones above groud so in about 10 years you can go underground and see them…!
2. The structures, which were pretty big, didn’t have an inside or much purpose apart from for show. They look like they have huge areas inside of them, like pyramids, but they are completely solid.
3. The Mayans had a sport – I cant remember what it is called – where basically two teams have to use a ball and hit it against targets. The difficult part is that they can’t use their hands, feets or heads. Only their hips. Apparently you can still see it in Mexico… think I might have to! Also, in Mayan times they would choose captains of the teams before the match and the captain of the winning team would be sacrificed after the match. This was because the person sacrificed would become a God, or so they believed, so the captains would willingly put themselves forward.
The site was also home to several Macaws (parrots basically) who were squawking everywhere and even flew above our heads a few times which was pretty cool.
My favourite structure:
That afternoon we decided to give our purses, and tired bodies, a well earned rest and just chilled by the pool. The views from the hotel were amazing and the price was really good considering we had a rooftop pool overlooking Copan so I would recommend it – Hotel Belssy. Before it got dark we had a wander around the cobbled streets of Copan Ruinas and took in the amazing scenery around it. It would have been very easy to stay a few more days somewhere like that. The really good thing about Copan is that you can actually walk around after it gets dark! In Tegus, and even safer places like Tela and the lake, as soon as it gets dark it is best to be safely tucked away in your house. There has only been one time in Tegus when I have been out after 6 (when it gets dark) and even though me and Laura had each other it was pretty scary. Copan, though, has a little square full of people, lots of tourists and lots of street lighting so it has a different vibe and it feels so much safer. We found a lovely place to eat and settled down for our last meal in Copan. After we had finished a police car pulled up and 3 or 4 policemen came into where we were for their evening meal… only in Honduras! We decided to make the most of this opportunity and all quickly hopped in the van for a piccy! We’re rebels!!! 😀
Sadly, we had to return to Tegus the next day – we said goodbye to our tuk tuk man and the amazing Copan:
Despite having to leave lovely, clean, safe Copan… I did get a strong sense of coming home as we drove into dark and dangerous Tegus. I am happy to call it home though – but I will definitely visit Copan again before I leave Honduras. It is wonderful… if you are planning on travelling here I would definitely recommend it, but be warned… it is very different to the rest of the country so don’t be fooled!
In less than three weeks Brynja will be leaving us to go back to Iceland. Her leaving soon is the reason we have crammed two trips into weekends which has been tiring but it definitely helped to have that motivation to get going! We have only known Brynja for 2 months but myself and Laura have gotten really close to her and we’re now really used to seeing her (and her being late) every weeekend. We’re going to miss her. However, with the chance to visit Iceland and have a personal guide it’s not all bad 😉 Love you B Dogg!!!! x