Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Copan Ruins, Ruinas de Copan, Honduras, Dead Body

I originally wrote this below for GPSTravelMaps.com in 2011.

Gracias, Honduras. Highest Honduran mountain peak in the clouds.

"Is that a dead body"? I asked out loud.

Driving the “back” roads in a third world country can quite often be exciting, from the occasional river crossing, to now seeing a person on the side of a dirt road who had obviously seen better days.

My wife didn’t answer my question at first until we finally drove by the body. I could tell she was confused and shocked at first, she wasn’t quite sure what we were both seeing.

“Oh my gosh. OH my gosh. Oh MY GOSH!” Silence followed with her hand covering her mouth.

Driving to Copan. Notice the white truck had passed the bigger truck on a blind curve. Luckily there is an unmarked "3rd" lane on narrow two lane roads so that when you pass something big and there and a car coming the other way, the other car just moves over and you can drive in the middle 3rd lane without a head-on collision.  I showed Skihoney some of my seldom used road skills. :)

I could tell she was getting her fill of being in a place that wasn’t quite like home. This was only our second day in Honduras. I wasn’t expecting to see a body on the side of the road, but it wasn’t unexpected for me either. I had lived in Honduras for 2 years prior to this visit and had gotten used to seeing “unexpected” things. We didn’t stop the car. There was nothing we could do. It did make for interesting conversation for the next few hours.

Typical street in Copan.
We were on our way to the Copan Ruins, via the “scenic” route by driving through the small towns of La Esperanza and Gracias, which included some dirt road driving through some very rural areas. The country itself is beautiful, with green mountains and hills. I was looking forward to seeing the Mayan ruins. I had only seen old Anasazi remnants in the Southwest US up to this point, and I wanted to experience some “jungle” ruins.

Hotel overlooking the cobblestone streets.
I was not disappointed in the least. The town of Copan is worth the visit just by itself. Cobblestone streets offer a very quaint feel. The food is great. (We had a great breakfast of “baleadas” and smoothies.) In the evening, it was fun to go and walk around and see the street vendors, catch a bite to eat at a local restaurant. It’s not too hard to pick out the “granola” type visitors either from the states. It was the week of Thanksgiving in the US (2010) and we couldn’t have picked a better week to be here. I think we even had the hotel to ourselves now that I think about it. I believe Thanksgiving is a great time to travel in Central America and the Caribbean.

Copan Ruins. 
In the morning we went to Ruins. It was a beautiful day, and our experience there was just about perfect. Hardly anyone there. It made for a unique experience, as the lack of tourists made the place seem even more sacred and peaceful. We did not hire a guide for which I was glad, but we used a paper map found in town that gave a suggested route to walk when in the ruins. Not having a guide meant we could take our time, take pictures, sit, walk, explore, look, and feel. We spent hours exploring, and even took some time to explore the underground tunnels where live excavating of the ruins is continuing to occur. I loved the huge trees everywhere. I loved the sounds, smells, everything.  I left the ruins feeling refreshed, and I think they even helped me not to mind all the potholes so much on the highway out of town.

Add this to your bucket list. Copan is a must see - must experience place.