Don’t know about you guys, but when more than half a dozen people look me in the eye, and earnestly tell me to go to Copan because the ruins are amazing and I will love them – I must listen… and go. Honduras wasn’t on the list, but I made plans to go to check out the Copan ruins without giving it a second though – which in my books (and instinct) is 100% right. Organising it was easy – I jumped on a collectivo at 4am for a 6 hour ride to Copan. We got there in 5.5 hours, thanks to the speedy yet careful driver – and this included the border crossing too (effortless, and another stamp in the passport – whoo!). And by the way – it was completely safe!!
Where am I staying?
Berakah Hostel has rave reviews on TripAdvisor, and it turned out to be a cool chilled place – the shared spaces, that is..
What I didn’t realise is that I had booked a bed in a dorm, which turned out to be a bad decision. I was ‘assigned a top bunk bed’ in a room that basically fit 3 bunk beds, a foot between them and room for nothing else. Too small for me, too little personal space. And there was one bed (taken) that smelt horrible. Nope. Just couldn’t stay there. (Yes M, never never again!). Thankfully the last privado room was free – for an extra $11. No brainer.
If I had to rate the bunk beds, well, no, I won’t. I feel ill thinking about that smell – but I’m sure it was specifically because of individuals as opposed to the room. Rating my little room on the other hand..
- Grubbiness factor = low. Everything was clean
- Bed = 8/10. Comfy and it did the job. Slept well but that could be due to other factors 😉
- Shower = 7/10. There was hot hot water – low pressure I could live with it.
What did I eat?
I got a breakfast sandwich for the ride (mushrooms and tomato – no pic) and it was yummy and filling. All I needed to keep me going for dinner was coffee and this lush watermelon juice from Cafe Ixchel.
I was told I definitely needed to try a baleada – a traditional Honduran dish. Essentially a fat tortilla, stuffed with frijoles, cheese, crema and any additional fillings – usually meaty or eggy ones. We went to La Buena Baleada, which apparently had the best ones.
I chose one with just frijoles and platano – the only 2 options I could have. It arrived with a little dollop of a carrot pickle salad – which I sprinkled in the baleada. I didn’t take a pic – but take my word for it, it looked simple but tasted really yummy – the combination of sweet, sour and creamy. Breakfast the next morning consisted of coffee and pupusas – something else I hadn’t had a chance to try before. They are essentially stuffed tortillas.
So once again, I went for the only filling – frijoles, with avocado. Combined with salsa picante, yummy cabbage pickle and great conversation, I thoroughly enjoyed the flavours and textures of this meal. I ended up ordering 2, and saved one for my lunch on the way back to Antigua – job done, it filled me up.
What did I do?
Ruins! I was here for the Copan ruins, and our guide, the enthusiastic and passionate Julio.
There was only one other person joining me on the tour, the very handsome and very polite E – who became my partner in crime for exploring ruins, eating and drinking while I was in Copan – and we had Julio all to ourselves giving us interesting fact after fact and answering all our questions. Copan has amazing hieroglyphics – on the steles, altars and pyramids – some which are really well preserved.
The most iconic pyramid is one with hieroglyphics on each step. Really stunning and impressive.
We walked around the scenic route, taking in the amazing views. Julio also pointed out that the main plaza is on the back of the 1 limpira note – so cool!
The most iconic building is the Rosalila, a temple inside (yes, inside and under) a pyramid, built by the 1st king. I definitely recommend you paying a bit more ($15) to go into the tunnels – 100% not claustrophobic, they are big – so you can see glimpses of the levels and the Rosalila.
What I really loved about this place (apart from the usual nature-science-astronomy link) was that I could see the different layers/styles of the pyramids and temples – as each king would essentially built on top of the previous king’s efforts – apart from the Rosalila. And we saw (introduced but now wild, but still fed by humans) macaws! Whoo!
The next day we decided to check out another recommended ruin – Rastrojon, the ‘welcome point’ for people entering Copan. It was a proper ruin – more like a mess.
Unfortunately it was built on unstable land (so not like the Maya!) and most of it can’t be put back together. What they managed to put back together was good – but stuff I’ve seen before..
This is the best thing – in terms of context of carvings – found on the site (a replica).
The views were beautiful though.
So you can take or leave Rastrojon, but don’t miss the Sculpture Museum – because you can see a life size replica of the Rosalila! Thanks E – I am so glad it did it!!
This is my kind of museum – almost open air, well lit and SO many interesting objects. It was amazing. I could have spent a day there.
Overall, the ruins at Copan must not, can not, should not be missed. They were virtually empty – more so than any of the others that I’ve been to. They were visually stunning, the history fascinating, and it only lead to me being in greater awe of the Maya. So impressed and STILL not ruin-ed out. (a term I’ve heard a few times now) GO.