Copan Ruinas, Honduras
Honduras seemed to be the country of hills. The scenery out the window of the bus was never flat (the buses didn't like this so much) and Copan Ruinas followed suit - it attempted to throw the steepest gradients in existence at us. With our backpacks on our aim was to find a hostel at the bottom of the hill, close to the bus stop. Mission accomplished. Plus the hostel came with a pool, kitchen and free water and coffee - our laziness rewarded us nicely.
After sitting on the bus for so long we were determined to get the blood moving in our legs, so we ended up trekking all over the quiet town and its relentless cobbled hills. It didn't feel as though there were many tourists around, and the whole place had a sleepy vibe. Given the proximity of the town to what was arguably the country's biggest tourist attraction, we were expecting to meet more people. And given the number of touristy restaurants and bars we saw, I think the Copan Ruinas expected more too.
We ate a late lunch of pupusas (still going with the pupusas), these ones containing loroco, a native flower used as a herb. That was the first and definitely the last time we ever ate loroco. Unfortunately for Danny the brewery was closed on Mondays, so we had to settle for a cheese and wine bar. Dozens of cheese were on offer but we were still full from lunch, however we weren't too full to try their wine. A delightful Pinot Grigio called my name. Honduras was so sophisticated.
We made it to another bar where their happy hour deal offered 2 for 1 drinks. Danny ordered a rum and coke, thinking he would receive another once he had finished. Nope. Both shots of rum came in that one glass, with a tiny splash of coke. That was one way to speed up the spending money (or getting drunk) process. It was around this time that a storm came through and blacked out the town. We didn't want to get wet - guess we had to keep on drinking then.
Of course the main reason we visited Copan Ruinas was to visit the world famous Copan ruins, only one kilometre from town. We headed there early the next morning, before tourist buses arrived. A long path on the way in was lined with dozens of scarlet macaws, which captivated us longer than I dare to admit. I presume they were being fed to stick around in such a large number and entertain the visitors. It sucked us right in.
Copan wasn't overly big, the ruins weren't gigantic or in great shape, but the level of detail in the architecture and inscriptions was the highest quality we had come across. The site was surrounded by forested mountains and the vegetation had started to encroach on the remains, as there were trees growing through the middle of some structures. Next door was a new, modern museum, which contained a full-scale replica of one of the temples. Numerous stelae and and smaller ruins surrounded this centrepiece, with explanations (in English!) of what the carvings signified. I wish I could say I learned a lot, but I know that by the next day I had forgotten 99% of what I had read. It was interesting at the time though. Overall Danny thought it was fantastic. I liked it, but I don't think I will go out of my way to visit Copan again.
The trees reclaiming their territory.
The Mayans knew how to take advantage of the views.
With the ruins out of the way, the rest of the afternoon was spent like this:
Eating lunch at the market (really digging these baleadas)
Trying a local fruit, jocote. They looked like cherry tomatoes, red or green in colour, but tasted like a mix between a peach and a passionfruit. Nice.
Ordering the "best coffee in Honduras". Danny concurred with the sign.
Walking up all those damn hills to a mirador, for sub-par views over the town and surrounding mountains.
Visiting the wine bar again, where we did order the cheese plate (we didn't forget the wine).
Checking out a local German-run brewery, where Danny went gung-ho on beer and German sausages. I elegantly sipped my wine and nibbled on a potato salad. I ended up leaving Danny to his new best friends (the owner and the beer) as I knew I had zero chance of dragging him away. I had no idea what time he returned to the hostel that night.