Yesterday morning, I popped up pretty early, went for a quick breakfast at a local comedore . . . then somehow wasted a couple of hours before heading to the border crossing into Honduras at El Florido. The bus I was on left at about 10:30, but it stopped repeatedly for any and every person, animal, or inanimate object that may or may not want to board the bus. I reached the border a couple of hours later, which was a pretty entertaining affair. Basically, you get off the bus walk past a couple of buildings and gates and then board a bus on the other side. I had to pay 10Q to leave Guatemala, 25Q to enter Honduras two steps later, and 2Q to use the toilet after two more steps. After these formalities, I boarded a minibus for Copan Ruinas (an adorable town about 15 minutes walk from the actual ruins of the Mayan city of Copan), watched my backpack get tied to the roof of the minivan with dental floss, waited for the bus to fill and then proceeded into town.
Copan Ruinas is a nice, slightly overtouristed little town with a beautiful square, a lot of nice restaurants and cheap rooms. I holed up at a place called the Hotel Los Gemelos for two nights and then roamed the city for the majority of the day and evening yesterday. My dinner is worth an honorable mention. I decided to dine at a little place slightly away from the tourist congestion - I always feel a bit bad since most tourists head to the gigantic flashy places, leaving the local places largely untouched. So this tourist chose somewhere else. I was a bit torn between the simple spaghetti with red sauce (what makes the sauce red is a mystery) or the Sopa de Hombres (Man's soup). Though simple sounded good, I was slightly afraid that my masculinity would be on the line if I didn't order the soup. I talked with the waiter, and he explained that the spaghetti would be FASTER, but the soup was MAS RICO. Rico is one of the craziest words in the Spanish language (aside from refrigerador, which is perhaps the hardest to pronounce) since there are a hundred and one uses of the word. Clothes can be rico, a person can be rico, a stench can be rico, Gerardo can be rico and suave all at once. So I ordered based on the word RICO. The soup was delicious, though a bit salty - it had some chicken, a couple eggs and more spices than anything I've eaten in these parts. There was one strange spice - a green leaf with pretty damn sharp edges - that I couldn't identify and that I blame for the strange haze I fell into later that evening when I got home. Felt a bit like I was going to be sick, but more like someone had slipped me a roofy (which is entirely possible as well). This strangeitude wore off after a half hour or so, though, and I did some reading before crashing.
This morning, I got up around 6:45, ate some yogurt, bananas and granola procured the night before and wandered to the ruins. I brought some cheese, crackers, cookies and water with the intent of spending the entire day at the ruins. And spend the entire day at the ruins I did. I was the first one to sign the little entrance register and had the ruins to myself for a short while. The entrance price was a bit hefty ($10 to enter and $12 to explore a few of the archaeological tunnels), but it definitely was a great experience.
Some of the highlights of the ruins were the carved stelae found all over the Great Plaza and the Hieroglyphic Stairway that led to the top of Temple 11. The stairway tells the history of Copan and is slowly being pieced together by archaeologists - only the first fifteen steps are actually in the correct sequence. There is a protective tarp over the top of the stairs, and it is now (NOW?) forbidden to walk on the stairs. Above the Great Plaza is the Acropolis, the home of the ruling elite. The temples themselves are fairly run-down, but it's pretty interesting sitting around these structures after having looked at the pictures of the site before its excavation - nothing but huge mounds in the midst of a forest.
Another very cool aspect of the ruins were the tunnels beneath some of the structures. In the Rosalila tunnel, it was possible to see the remnants of a grand temple upon which Temple 16 had been built. The Jaguar tunnels went past some living areas within one of the temples and gave some pretty cool glimpses of the drainage system, a series of angled chutes that ultimately led to the river. Overall, there weren't many tourists (one worker told me the place is packed on Saturday and Sunday), and it was pretty damn serene eating my lunch and lounging around in this huge area all day.
I toyed with the idea of wandering through Honduras to the coast to meet up with Samantha, but our friend Charley wrote, and he and I have decided to meet up back in the wonderful town of Chiquimula to potentially hit a water park nearby. More on these festivities later . . . adios!