Copan Ruinas – first taste of the Mayans

After a long 14 hours on a bus from Managua, we finally arrived in San Pedro Sula, one of the main transport hubs in Honduras. There’s nothing here to really interest travellers and in truth it’s a pretty dangerous city, but since there were no onward buses past mid-afternoon (again, it’s too dangerous to travel at night here) we were forced to spend the night. First thing the next morning and we were off to the bus station to continue our journey to the much more pleasant Copan Ruinas and our first taste of the Mayans.

Copan Ruinas town centre

The town itself is a cute little affair, but very much geared towards tourists, with hostels, tour agencies and foreign restaurants on every street corner. We were staying at ViaVia, a lovely bar-restaurant-tour agency-hostel, with only five rooms at a great rate, having already eaten and drunk (a lot) at their Leon branch. Only a couple of blocks from the main square, it was ideally located.

Food stalls at night

That evening, we decided to sample some of the local street food. It’s been a while since we’ve gone local and the jumble of stalls were selling a whole host of Honduran delights. We plumped for the tortilla/meat combo, piled high with salads and drenched in spicy sauce. Yum. Later, we stopped off in a nearby restaurant for a quick drink and soon realised it was where Hondurans came for a novelty night out – as well as the bellow-pumped fire which all the dishes were cooked on, the waitresses carried the orders to the tables on their heads, even to the upstairs dining room – quite a feat!!

Dinner

The next day and we were up early to visit the ruins. It’s a short tuk-tuk trip out of town (Richard was reminiscing of his trip across India in a tuk-tuk) and you can either hire a guide (a bit steep at $25) or wander the ruins yourself. Armed with the Lonely Planet for assistance, we set off.

The ruins

At the entrance to the site, there are dozens of beautiful red macaws which are fed by the park rangers but free to fly into the trees. We also spotted a couple of Mrs Guatin-esque animals, exactly the same as our Merazonia friend, only twice the size!

A macaw at the ruins

The ruins themselves are impressive and despite having been spoilt by Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu we were still in awe. The architecture here is very different and our first taste of the Mayan culture, although we’ll be seeing far more of this once we hit Guatemala and Mexico.

The Ball Court

The site is well preserved and neatly kept, and the potted history provided by our guide book certainly made up for the lack of guide, giving us an insight into the history of the place and the civilisation that lived there.

Stela at the ruins

We took our time, and spent the best part of the morning there. Just be sure to take suncream and water – it can get very hot. We didn’t fork out the extra $15 for the tunnels – from what we have heard it’s not really worth it and we saw more than enough on the surface to satisfy ourselves.

The Hieroglyphic Stairway
More ruins

Back in town that evening, we decided to treat ourselves to some wine and cheese. We found a great little place which served a five cheese platter and some excellent bottles of wine and we gorged ourselves for little more than $20. A little bit different from our previous night of street food but it had been a while! Then it was off to bed before an early start – we had a 6am bus to catch to Antigua for New Year celebrations with the Stefs…

Lots and lots of New Year fireworks