The greatest journey to and from Copan Ruins

Copan Travel Blog

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Up at 3.30am on Friday morning to catch the 4.15am bus to San Pedro Sula, a 4ish hour journey away from La Esperanza, from which we catch the 9.45am bus to the Copan Ruins. Again, I reitterate, San Pedro Sula is very much a dump...but the Hedman Alas bus leaving from there is not. We were entertained with the amazing Cat Woman for our 3 hour journey...reaching Copan in the middle of the day...sun a blazing.

Copan is famous for its ruins, which date back to around 450AD...with the civilization falling after a popular revolution in 800AD, however Copan has been inhabited since 2000BC.
Only 25% of the ruins have actually been excavated yet, and archeologists say it will take another 200 years to finish excavating the rest.
There are 4,509 structures which have been detected with 3,450 of the structures found only 24 sq km surrounding the Principal Group. The Principal Group consisting of five basic areas:

1) The Acropolis - Divided in two big plazas: the west court and east court. The west court houses temple 11 and temple 16 with altar Q set at its base. Temple 11 was built as a portal to the other world. Temple 16 sits in between the east and west court; it was built on top of a previous temple without damaging it. Altar Q depicts the 16 members of the Copan Dynasty. The Acropolis is also known as the High City...here the rich would watch dance festivals, the poor were not allowed in the Acropolis.


2) The Tunnels - Archeologists have dug 4km of tunnels under the acropolis to view earlier stages of Copan civilization. Basically, the Mayans built their temples on top of the older ones. Every century (which according to the Mayan calendar is 52 years), they would build a temple on top of the old one.

3) The Ball Court - The ball court is the second largest to be found in Central America. Basically the men were not allowed to use their hands, or heads...only their thighs, bums, shoulders, pecs and calves. And using these they had to hit these monuments on the opposite side, guarded by the opponents. Oh and luckily for the winners of this game...they were sacrificed...but supposedly they wanted to be.

4)The Hieroglyphic Stairway - The most famous of Copan's monuments, 63 steps and several thousand glyphs tell the history of the royal house of Copan and is the longest known text of ancient mayan civilization.
Unfortunately, the steps have fallen out of place leaving the exact meaning undeciferable. However, its like a book talking about the civilization....which spreads over 300 years.

5) The Great Plaza - The immense plaza is famous for its stelae and altars that are found scattered around a well groomed lawn. Here they had the places of sacrifice for animals and people.

But the best thing about this place was the names of the rulers....never have I ever heard of better names. Here are a few names of past Mayan rulers...Smoke Monkey, Smoke Jaguar, 18 Rabbit, Leaf Monkey, Smoke Snake....etc etc.

So we did all this Saturday morning....our guide took us around...he was a cool guy, spoke english but had a strong accent....oh and best part was. I only had to pay 20 lempiras to get in, instead of the usual $10, because they thought I was Honduran.
Once finishing our 2 hour tour (I went with Will and Krish), as the others decided to go early to avoid the sun...whilst we were still asleep when they left.... so we bought a lot of useless sculptures that weren´t that nice and very heavy, as well as being huge...and we bought a hell of a lot...but for $3 it wasnt much of a risk, one of them is already broken.

We took the powerful tuc tuc (one of the most underrated machines in the world) back to our posh resort...Copan Plaza. Everything that was missing from the first 3 weeks...cleanliness...thats all it was...just clean, and we loved it! We chilled by the pool, drank a few beers, had a bit of food....and then hit the town!!!! And when I say hit the town....we hit it good! For those of you that have not kept up to date with the goings on.
...La Esperanza isn´t the most happening of places... and so when we saw Copan it was gob smacking!

Bars....our first one being owned by an English lady....Tanya....one crazy woman! But it was great....11 volunteers drinking away in Copan....13 cocktails later we decided to play football with a coke bottle with the locals, which turned into a coke bottle throwing frenzy... after that we went Tanya´s second bar, with this crazy girl from Canada, but Jamaican origins on the bar. Mango and Pineapple daquiris later we were well and truly hammered, but the night was still young, so me, Will, Krish, Rachel, Al, Erin and Jason went searching for the reggae bar...all having way too much to drink, we stumbled through Copan...up and down random hills until we came to it...Papa Chingos...
Drinking in Copan...
was a mad place...with swings instead of chairs at the bar...and it was made a marijuna allowed zone...so you had people puffing away all around...I cant remember much from then on...I know we were racing down a random road...and when we got back to the hotel, me and Krish hired a tuc tuc and drove around all over the place trying to find some food...unfortunately we forgot that we were still in Honduras so all food places were shut by 10pm, and at 1am we were gonna have no luck.

So I had some day old pizza which the 5 of us shared, before me and Krish went swimming at 2am...having a good old d.m.c, retiring to our room at 3am, nice and wet....which was promptly followed by a good shower (my 7th one of the weekend!) and a nice sleep.

Now the bus that we took to get to Copan left at 9am.
Playing street coke football in Copan
..and I thought I would make it, but unfortunately none of the lads (apart from Seb), who couldnt drink because he was on antibiotics...but yeh we missed the bus...we were still all recovering at around 12noon...and slowly but surely made it out of the hotel, 6 hours late at 3pm, after a nice lunch and breakfast which settled the head down a bit. It was at this point which some genius came up with the idea of not going back the route we came but trying the other, shorter in distance route, through Gracias.
Let it be said that noone in Honduras would recommend this route. So we were on our way...the first, a 2 hour local bus from Copan Ruinas, north to La Entrada.
Bar with the swings...


Arriving at 5pm, we just caught 5.03pm bus from La Entrada to Santa Rosa de Copan...another one and a half hours...and here comes the saddest part of the story...there was a bus to Siguatepece in front of us...and usually to get to La Esperanza you get through Siguatepepce and get off, but thats if we went the normal route...however unfortunately we forgot we were going the other, so to get to Siguatepece, we´d have to go through La Esperanza (our stop)...so thinking that we´d have to get off at Siguatepece and then stay there the night we didn´t get on the bus...and were stuck in Santa Rosa de Copan for the night...we walked...and walked a bit more...before we found a Texaco station...and those who did the legendary walk from Destiny to Habs and slept in the squash courts..as well as Shailen.
..will know what happened next...we set up tent in the Texaco station.

We had to see out 10 hours before the first bus out...so we sat there, staring into space...wandering round the texaco food area. The plan was to buy a bit of food every 30 minutes so they wouldn´t kick us out, as well as flirting with the woman on the till so she wouldn´t throw us out. The plan was perfect and unflawed and for 4 hours of my life I stared into space...yes it did feel like years...but we were doing it...until there was a light which came forth the door...a honduran hotel owner who went to school in the US.
He took us in his new Range Rover away from the darkness....to one swish hotel....enormous, the biggest one I´ve stayed in so far, with internet, hot water and food...all for $2 a night!!! It was a special price as he realized we had hardly any money because we tried to sleep in a Texaco station.
Stop over- Texaco station
So that 8.30am bus from Santa Rosa de Copans...we kinda missed, actually we were watching OC, Friends and Close to Home...as well as showering and the rest of that stuff.

So at 10.30am we got the bus from Santa Rosa de Copans to Gracias...2 hours more...and from Grcias we thought there was a straight bus from Gracias to la Esperanza....however we are never that lucky. The bus stopped at a random town which had a run sown pulperia and that was it...47km from La Esperanza. We ask the pulperia lady when the next bus is to La Esperanza...her words...you have missed it. Yes! Thats exactly what we wanted to hear! With hardly any money and no way back home we start walking...walking for 47km up the side of a mountain, knowing that nightfall was to hit 5 hours...and it would take atleast 8 to walk back.
..oh and Krish was carrying his 2 tonnes of Mayan Sculpture as well.

2km later we see a pick up go past...and start running after it...he stops...and we hop in...we then find he is drunk...by the way it is legal to drink and drive in Honduras...we knew that if we stayed in we could die (as we were in the back of a pick up of a drunk guy going through the most dangerous road I´ve been on in my life)...going down the side of a mountain...but if we got off we would have no ride back...so we stayed in and prayed very hard. Thankfully he stopped after 15 minutes because we had reached his house...I thanked him and said he had a nice hat at which point he grabbed my hat and said that he´d take it as payment for his daughter...I grabbed my hat and started running, he was running after me, so I grabbed my machete and ran some more.
...he fell over....we were safe.

But again, with no where to go...so again we walked...39km from La Esperanza...another 2km later we got another stroke of luck, well a few pick up trucks went past, but one that had gone past previously this time stopped, after he realized we were volunteers. On the back of the Honduran Tourist Department pick up we made the hellish journey to La Esperanza...now last week I talked about the waterfall, you have not come near death unless you take a pick up through the Gracias road.

In fact there isn´t actually a road properly made yet..their still making it, so the trucks just make their own way. You look down the side of the mountain and you see trucks and buses that have fallen.

The road was sooo bad, we picked up a couple of school teachers who were telling us how bad this road is and that we were stupid to have taken it.
We reached La Esperanza at around 4pm...25 hours since we started our journey from Copan. My hands were bleeding because I was holding onto the metal on the truck so much, and after a sleep, I realized I had a bruise right across my bum (trying not to fall off!) What a journey! To make it better, for dinner I got fried bananas and beans...which were quite quickly thrown up in the toilets...
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Drinking in Copan...
Drinking in Copan...
Playing street coke football in Co…
Playing street coke football in C…
Bar with the swings...
Bar with the swings...
Stop over- Texaco station
Stop over- Texaco station
Copan
photo by: Biedjee