It has been a crazy weekend. In addition to it being Labor Day, a long holiday weekend, it was also my birthday and a weekend that we moved from Pittsburgh to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Think moving from a sprawling metropolis to a tiny college town. Bummer. Anyhow, it’s been nuts these past couple of days to say the least. But it wasn’t as crazy as Honduras, that’s for sure! :)
We woke up bright and early to go visit Copán Ruinas, and were determined to not miss out again. Passports in hand, Audrey, Trent, Evelyne and I made it to the ruins just after 8:15. No one was there. We [im]patiently waited for the ticket attendant to arrive and at 8:30, gave her our passports and purchased our tickets. Audrey and I had split the purchase of a Promo Dias discount card, which gives you certain discounts to national monuments and bus tickets and the like. We saved 25 percent off of our Hedman-Atlas bus tickets for the both of us, and the stipulations clearly stated that two people were eligible for discounts. However, once we arrived, they only let Audrey privy to the discount (it was registered in her name). Apparently they have to submit the passport number, which obviously is only registered to one person. Anyhow, she paid the discounted price (291 Lempiras or $13.80), I paid full price (315 Lempiras or $15) and we split the difference later at the hostel.
Outside of the ruins, there were guias (guides) everywhere asking if you wanted a guided tour. The more people in your party, the cheaper you can get a guide to show you around. We ultimately had a guide tell us he would give us a tour for $30 total (down from $60), but while Evelyne and Audrey wanted a guide, Trent and I preferred to explore on our own. Ultimately we all set out and explored the ruins unaided.
The Mayan ruins of Copán seem to be a small sanctuary for macaw birds. After you purchase your ticket, you head down the path towards the ruins. It appears to be a free-for-all. No one is there to check your ticket or to make sure you’ve paid. So off you walk down the path and see all of these beautiful macaw birds. As much as we tried, we were all unsuccessful in getting any of the birds to talk to us, unfortunately.
After you walk a short bit, you come to a huge fence. You go to the entrance, and that is where they check your tickets and let you enter the ruins area. After you get past the fence, then you walk a short distance to discover the ruins.
We were all in awe once we got to the ruins. This is the first one you see, and it truly is amazing. It’s definitely not something you see every day, and for the four of us, it was our first-ever ruin.
Audrey and I eagerly ran to the top. In the US and Europe, I’m fairly certain that it’s illegal to run, stand, jump, spit on, or touch an ancient artifact. Not in Central America. We took advantage of this and took an ample amount of pictures at the summit.
The ruins are constantly under surveillance and being cared for. While they’re not reconstructed, maintenance is done on them so they look as they did during their former glory.
One area that was under “construction” was that of the stairs. The stairs were under a huge canopy, and this was one area that tourists were not allowed to freely run up and down.
Shortly after leaving the stairs, the four of us climbed another ruin and took a few photos.
I really don’t even have words for how beautiful a bunch of old rocks are. While pictures will never be able to do it justice, it is quite breathtaking.
These were taken on top of another ruin.
The military are everywhere. They are walking around the town. They are standing guard in the shadows when you are eating street-food at night. They are chillin’ with their guns when you are touring around old Mayan ruins. They are tall and proud and everywhere and terrifying. And Audrey and I absolutely could not leave without taking a picture not only of them, but -with- them. In hindsight, that was probably really, really stupid.
Those four fellas in the previous picture kept patrolling around. I casually attempted to get their picture without looking completely obvious, but I’m sure I failed miserably. However, Trent, Evelyne, Audrey and I kept wondering why in the heck these military guys with AR-15s and Galil rifles were roaming around the Mayan ruins.
We later learned the military was there simply to protect the town and the ruins, but never-the-less, they were still extremely intimidating.
Ignore the guns, ignore the guys behind the guns, Audrey and I agreed we simply could not leave without getting a picture with these guys or at least attempting to. There were four of them together, and Audrey casually asked if we could get a picture with them (in Spanish, of course). One of them was really gruff and, while he didn’t answer, he motioned for us to follow him and a fellow soldier. Crap. Neither of us knew where he was taking us, but a picture was the last of our worries at this point (you seriously don’t know how terrifying these guys are)! We rounded a corner and the two young guards were up for a photo session. Two pictures for each of us. Audrey and the two guards, and then me and the two guards.
Audrey went first and stood in between the guards for two quick smiles. Then it was my turn. Completely ignoring the fact that I’m standing with two Honduran guards, sneakily taking pictures away from their higher-ranking comrade, I put my arms around both of them and lean in for a big hug-thing with a huge grin. I really, really, really don’t think they were expecting that. The second picture, they were smiling right along with me. :) Check out the picture; it was epic.
After our quick photo session, Audrey and I graciously thanked them, but they wanted to get pictures with us, so we each went for round two. I think they had become quite comfortable with us by this point, and were happy and having a good time when we starting taking pictures on their cell phones. For the final picture, the second guard stepped in between Audrey and I, with Audrey on his right and me on his left. I’m not sure if he moved right before his colleague took the picture or what, but his Galil slid past my leg. I looked down, and I was literally straddling this high-powered rifle in the hands of this Honduran militant. That’s definitely not something you expect to happen to you when you wake up in the morning!
Their superior started walking towards the corner we were taking photos at, and they seemed to get a bit nervous. We definitely didn’t want to cause any drama, so we quickly thanked them again and off we went on our merry way.
By 11:00 it was unbearably hot and there were hordes of tourists pouring in, so we decided to head back to Via Via, our hostel. Trent and Evelyn were catching the shuttle shortly after noon, so we sadly said our goodbyes. That’s one amazing thing about traveling: meeting some amazing people; however, saying the goodbyes and continuing on your own path without them sometimes really does stink.
Never-the-less, Audrey and I headed towards the Hedman-Alas bus station to catch the 2:20 bus headed back to Guatemala. It was a Sunday, and apparently that is quite a popular time to go back to Guatemala. We soon discovered that the only option was to pay for a first-class ticket, costing nearly $70. Umm. No. So there Audrey and I were, stuck in Honduras…
Interested in hearing about how Audrey and I got out of Honduras? Check back Tuesday for the next post. :)