Seeing the ruins of Copan
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
Hotel El Rosario
So the bus lasted seven hours, we were fed and were offered full cans or bottles of drink. This is very unusual and doesn't make business sense for the bus company but the girl who served the food and drinks didn't seem too steady on her feet, so maybe she'd prefer to hand you a closed container than spill an open one everywhere!
We found ourselves near a petrol station 1km outside Santa Rosa de Copan but instead of finding a place to stay we are hungry and Tamara is in need of a beer. Walking along a main road, we find a small cute restaurant and order some food while Real Madrid v Barca is on in the background! I settle for a burger, something easy on the old tummy! Tamara had fish which I finished off, hmm was that a good idea??
We have to head east along a road before heading south up a big steep hill! This is how one reaches the old town centre. The climb was steep, I plod off in my usual pace and frequently stop for Tamara who is going at a turtles pace but to be fair to her she is carrying a womans bag full of heavy items! We stop near the top and examine the hill we just climbed. I sweated more on the bus and ironically dried out climbing the hill, weird.
We reach the top of the hill, figure out the avenue and calle plan and find a cute little hotel with an old man reading his paper in the reception area who runs the place. He also has a pharmacy next door. He is a very pleasant man, very friendly, very welcoming and charges us as the lonely planet advises. Many people look upon gringo travellers as a 50% hike in their price, but not this old fella. He shows us the room, perfect, with a shared bathroom, but that is cheaper. We drop our stuff, and as we have done recently, we only have a couple of hours to explore before the sun sets. Ahem, I'm not the only one not feeling so great, it must have been that salad. I know my body went into shock, 'what!?!? salad......no way, get rid of it!!'
Anyway, after we compose ourselves, we head out to see this magical small town. Similar to Canas in Costa Rica, this is a cowboy town, the hats are awesome, I'm waiting for my brother who lives in Canada to finally buy one and WEAR it! The town is peaceful, quiet and radiant. We arrive on a Saturday and there is a service going on in the church. Others are sitting around the park, young children are pestering me for money, or to take my hands out of my pockets, an old lady begs me for money and I walk past a man sitting in a doorway watching the world go by.
After exploring for a while, it was time for a coffee and in the centre of the plaza was a coffee shop with a high rise viewing/seating area. A perfect place to watch the sun go down and to continue people watching. I order an iced coffee, all I can do is make the young girl serving the drinks giggle non stop, I'm pronouncing the H in Helado and just do not realise for a few moments, so just keep repeating myself, over and over, the more I repeat myself, the more she giggles. Ice coffee is served like a slushie, Tamara goes for something fruity and fizzy. The view from above the cafe was splendid apart from kids have found their way up their and bug everyone, I give them an elastic band I found and they go nuts with it!
We hang around the plaza for a while, pop in the Internet cafe opposite our hotel and resist the ice cream shop, Tamara goes to rest in the room and tries to work out her next move while I continue in the Internet cafe.
Crazily tomorrow, is another 430am start. My bed is dead. I mean I sink to the floor when I lie in it, I guess I might be able to hide from the mosquito's but I'd appreciate being above the mattress! I mention this night to the owner that we need to leave early for Copan Ruinas and in my best Spanish explain that Tamara is going to stay there while I will come back and therefore will be leaving my stuff in the room. He understands but tells me to take a taxi to the bus stop as I will get stabbed. OK.
Miles walked 1.36
Temp 30C 86F
Day 103 April 17th - I look forward to sleeping in one morning, just as a treat. The plan is a bus to La Entrada then catch another bus to Copan Ruinas, find Tamara a hostel, see the ruins, bus back to La Entrada, bus back to Santa Rosa de Copan then climb that hill again. It was going to be a long day but I'm in Honduras so what does in matter.
We are ready and I give the owner five minute warning to get us a taxi. Now I assumed he was going to call one or had a friend, I didn't know he was going to stand outside and wait for one to drive by, at 520 am. I stand outside with him and after 15 minutes I've lost my patience, we walk down the hill and at this pace would not reach the bus but a cab passes and stops. We reach a school bus within seconds of it leaving.
It seems we have boarded the fastest bus in Latin America or the fastest driver in Latin America. At one point he corners a a suitcase flies across the bus luckily missing some sleeping passengers. Just imagine the sounds made by a racing game, or maybe the sound effects to a car chase in a film, the noises were enjoyable but being thrown around the bus was pretty intense especially as he was navigating mountain passes. We also witness a strong glowing sun rising through fog and smog of the area. Again, one of those moments that would be impossible to share or relive with you. I am advised the journey to La Entrada takes 105 minutes, it took this guy 60 minutes and we are in La Entrada. The town of La Entrada is pretty crazy, it's really a commuter town, or a town where passes pass on by, there are dozens of people selling cooked chicken or bottles of drink and when a bus pulls up, they are all over it like a fly on s**t!
Seeing as I was ill in the morning I pass on some cooked chicken that Tamara is eating, we wait patiently in some gravel area for a collectivo bus. Suddenly a bus to Copan Ruians passes us by, we go chasing it but its gone, then we head off looking for an almond tree where other buses might be. We eventually find a collectivo, jump in then it takes us back to the original place we were standing in the gravel area. I'm not normally one for jumping the gun, but today is all about timing and I don't want to waste time waiting an hour or so for another bus.
The ride to Copan Ruinas is another story. It takes two hours, but a mini bus with say a capacity of 14/15 at best, at one point had 31 people and children in. People were hanging off the side, I had two little ones grabbing onto my knees to balance themselves, such a crazy journey, and whenever he cornered, part of the bus was scraping the ground.
Finally after leaving our hostel at 545am we arrive to Copan Ruinas at 930am. I predicted 10am so was pleased our motor racing bus driver saved me some time! The interesting aspect of driving into Copan Ruinas was every small town or village on the journey has a town sign sponsored by Coca-cola. It's like what HSBC do with airports, literally throw up all over them. I imagine representatives from Coca-cola driving from town to town, letting the locals try the tooth decaying drink and if they produce regular orders the company will provide a new sign?? It is one of the most recognised brands in the world and I can see why even more now. The hostel Tamara wanted was full but one closer to the small town was free so we dropped her bags, I used their facilities to be unwell again and we headed out for breakfast. The town of Copan Ruinas is just a kilometre or so from the actual ruins. The town is cute, small and has plenty of activities on offer for people who are planning to stay their longer, plus Spanish courses too. The place we found for breakfast was tremendous! The natural juice was so tasty and I had poached eggs for the first time on the trip, with some crispy bacon (not my favourite) and some toast. From the picture, you can see Tamara had the largest tortilla in the world!
After breakfast we have a brief look around the town before we head off to Copan Ruins.
I'm not going to bore you with where we walked and how we did it, but sadly, the experience was spoilt by constantly needing a bathroom. Luckily there was one in the ruins, but I feel we would have had so much more fun exploring the ruins without this problem, but nevermind, I can still say I've been to Copan Ruinas.
We walk around the ruins for an hour, I know my sister in law Toni would love this place, and Dave would love the fact the cafe sells beer! Parts of the ruins are protected by large pitched tents to prevent further damage and erosion from the heat of the sun. You can enter some tunnels that have been excavated recently, but for another $15, not worth it according to the guide so I don't bother.
We instead head to the cafe, because of travelling in the morning, we are walking around the ruins at the worst part of the day, it is super hot, up to 34C, we both feel knackered and totally wasted so a refreshing drink in some shade is perfect.
We head back into town, walking the 1km instead of wasting cash on a taxi and after spending about 15 minutes in Tamaras hostel, I'm told to leave, seeing as I'm not staying there, all I was doing was sitting on a bed. Oh well, I head to the bus station, say goodbye to Tamara, thank her for 7 great days of company and off I head back to Santa Rosa de Copan. I have a larger mini bus this time, not sure what happened as I spend two hours head bobbing. In La Entrada, I wait for 30 minutes for a collectivo, one turns up and there is a frantic rush to get a spot on the bus. Luckily I do and another hour later I wandering up the enormous hill again, panting my way to my little hotel.
I figured I would rest my eyes in bed but ended up sleeping till 1am, brushed my teeth and carried on sleeping. Gringo Tony was exhausted and still feeling very unwell.
Miles walked 3.78
Temp 34C 94F
Day 104 April 18th - At last a lie in. Well, 7am is hardly a lie in and the rooster in the yard outside has a sore throat, his morning wake up call was not as clear. I struggle to get out of my bed. My back hurts and I find a way to roll out than try lift myself out. Today, I head to El Salvador and I have a bus at 830am. I shower, pack and say thank you and goodbye to the owner. I have enough cash for the bus but not for the immigration tax, but in theory, I should be able to cross free of charge with my stamp from Nicaragua, so I don't bother with an ATM.
I skip breakfast, still being unwell so figure better resist putting more food in for a 4/5 hour bus journey. The bus to San Salvador leaves once a day from near a restaurant next to the bus station. I'm told to sit in the restaurant. I watch a pack of dogs fight with one dog not in the pack, poor thing is bleeding from his ear and legs, I also watch the pack make some sweet love, such a pleasant experience for a Monday morning!!
The next part is chaos! Utter Chaos! I assume an empty bus will roll up and I can put my bag under the bus, and find a seat. The bus rolls in and it's full. I am told to go on with my large pack with another twenty people who want to board the bus as well. For once it's a normal coach you might see with Megabus or Greyhound, however, I have no seat, instead I push my way to the back, put my bag behind the seat next to the toilet and lean on the toilet door for two hours. Luckily the toilet was out of action. So the 60 seat coach turns into a 90 person bus. The ride is uncomfortable, I try to tell the guy selling tickets I want to pay less seeing as I am standing but he says no.
After two hours, most of the passengers depart before we hit the border, so I get my seat. The bus crosses the border with only 7 people left. The honest people at the El Salvador border immigration office tell me to stay on the bus, I need not pay a fee, but sadly, I need not get a stamp either.
I cried all the way to San Salvador.........well, replace cried with slept!
One thing I love about Honduras is that every pick up truck you see on the road or motorway, has a family or a bunch of workers sat in the back. When you pass the young children wave and it seems like a normal way of travelling for them. It's unique how relaxed people are with this and in essence, how relaxed and laid back all the people in the nation are. Yes, I was on full alert in Tegucigalpa, but the rest of the country is very friendly, very proud and provide delicious food.