Hello from Honduras! As you may notice, we are over a week behind on blogging (we left on the 1st so days 26 and 27 are the 26th and 27th of January) but we have been in one place for over a week now (which was not planned…), so hopefully we can catch back up and stay more on top of tracking our trip…
After our experience at Tikal we knew it would be better to get to the ruins early, so we woke up at 7 for the breakfast portion of our bed and breakfast (fresh made bread, which I indulged in because it smelled so good, coffee and scrambled eggs with vegetables). After eating we walked the 15 minutes out of town to the site of the ruins. We arrived right as the site opened and enjoyed two full hours with only the groundskeepers. The site is very small compared to Tikal, and honestly just less impressive in general, but the carvings (called stelae) were amazing. They were so detailed and there were so many! We opted not to pay to go into the tunnels, mostly to save money as it is $15, which is as much as it cost to go into the site itself. One of the highlights of the Copan Ruins was their large macaw population, which flew all around the site, fighting in the air and making a ton of noise. It was really cool to see birds like that in their natural habitat.
We finished the ruins pretty early and headed down the hill to the Headman Atlas bus station to buy our bus tickets to the coastal town of La Ceiba. The tickets were $36 each, which may not be much by American standards, but down here that is so much money. Our daily budget for Honduras is $100, and it is only that high because of the diving we planned on the coast. So, spending $72 for a bus ride seemed ridiculous, especially since the bus ride is only 6 hours. So, we walked back to the hotel to ask the guy who owns it (who happens to be a CU Boulder alum) if there was cheaper way. We found out about the local bus, which left at 7 and required changing buses in San Pedro Sula (arguably the most dangerous city in the most dangerous country in Central America) but we were assured that lots of backpackers take that option, so we decided to leave early the next morning on the cheap bus.
We spent the rest of the day reading and writing and eating tortillas with peanut butter (not actually very yummy, but super cheap with tortillas being 1 lp each, or $.05) at our hotel. It was easy to do nothing in our quiet garden overlooking the surrounding mountains and valleys. Although we were paying quite a bit over budget for our hotel (even with the $20 or so discount we were given) it was really lovely to spend a few days in a peaceful, tranquil hotel. Travelers are fun and exciting people generally, but sometimes the quiet and privacy is just what is needed. It ended up as a blessing in disguise, as we are currently on our 7th night in a dorm room at a very hoppin’ dive hotel. More on that later.
Since our lunch was not the best and we had not been successful at finding good street food, we decided to ask at the hotel for a suggestion for dinner. We found the woman who appeared to manage the hotel when the owners were not there and she suggested Llama del Bosque, which serves traditional Honduran food. At Llama del Bosque we ordered the most delicious guacamole, which contained at least two whole avocados and was chunky and wonderful, and a dish called Anafre de Chorizo which was a dip served in a piping hot stone bowl, over a small bed of coals. The dip only contained chorizo, spices and cheese, and was easily the most delicious thing we ate in Copan Ruinas. After savoring our meal we bought a bottle of wine and enjoyed our last evening in our beautiful bed and breakfast. If you are ever in Copan Ruinas and you have a little more to spend on accommodations (around the $50 range) I highly recommend La Casa de Cafe.
We left the next morning with another piece of fresh toast in our hands to catch our 7 am bus. The bus was surprisingly big after having spent so much time in vans in Guatemala. The ride lasted 3 hours and was filled with locals hopping on and off the bus, people selling food and soda to the passengers, and a few other backpackers. The only glitch in the whole journey was in getting change for our bus fare. On all the other buses we have ridden on we have given them money and they have given us some form of receipt showing how much change we were owed. Then, after all the money is collected they go back through and give everyone their change. On this bus we got those receipt slips, but then no change. We had given the girl a 500 lempira bill and needed 240 back, so as we got off we asked and she reluctantly gave us our change. We wonder if maybe that is a con they pull on backpackers to get some extra beer money.
Anyway, we made it to San Pedro Sula and its HUGE bus terminal. There were literally hundreds of buses of all shapes, makes and sizes. We were immediately ushered into an air conditioned office in the giant bus terminal and bought tickets to La Ceiba. We only had to wait an hour and we got to watch the new Honduran president being sworn in. It was a little tense in the room and we later found out that people were NOT happy about him being elected (apparently there was some sort of election fraud or something…). We boarded an old tourist bus and headed to La Ceiba. We got a flat tire, which got us into the city too late to catch the ferry to the island of Utila, so we grabbed a cab with some Australians, got taken to the wrong hostel by a taxi driver and told where we wanted to go was closed (it wasn’t), walked the terrifying and unfriendly streets looking for an ATM, grabbed the closest street food, locked ourselves in our crappy room and tried to fall asleep to the blasting music of the karaoke bar next door and the teenagers watching the front desk watching music videos on full volume.
We really liked Copan Ruinas and could have stayed longer if we weren’t so anxious to get to the island of Utila to dive. It was peaceful, non-touristy feeling and our hotel was amazing. La Ceiba might be the scariest feeling place we have been so far (tied with Belize City) and we were so happy to leave the next morning.