Honduras 2020 - Day 18 (Copan Ruinas)
After 9.5 hours of sleep, I felt like myself again! The morning started out cool (16C) and cloudy but I knew it would be sunny and 33C by mid day so I headed out in a light dress after a basic breakfast at my hotel. First stop: cappuccino at Cafe Welchez since the coffee at the hotel was not the greatest. The cappuccino, on the other hand, was perfect. I stopped by the Via Via restaurant and travel agency to ask about their different excursions, and then found a tuk-tuk to take me to the ruins.
Although the ruins in Copan are not nearly as large as those in Tikal, they are unique in that they have the most preserved hieroglyphs and sculptures of any of the Mayan sites. I first visited the museum where I spent well over an hour. I'm not normally much of a museum person but this museum had extensive explanations for all the displays and I really enjoyed my time there.
The entrance into the museum is through a tunnel, and the first thing you see at the end of the tunnel is a reproduction of the temple of Rosalila. Where normally the Mayans would destroy temples before building over top of them, the temple of Rosalila was carefully preserved and archaeologists were able to view it by digging tunnels underneath the temple that was built over top of it. The temple of Rosalila was covered in stucco and painted, and the reproduction shows all the original colors. This is a reminder that ruins don't provide an accurate portrayal of the colorful cities they once were. Even the picture below doesn't do it justice - the backlighting caused the colors to lose some of their brightness.
More photos of the different displays in the museum. Compared to the ruins I saw in Tikal or in Belize, where all the details had been eroded, the detail in these artifacts was stunning:
I have a new appreciation for the reasons why people use selfie sticks. I don't normally take selfies. I think the world is better off without pictures of me taken from a 2' distance. But as a solo traveler, I'm going to have to suck it up and master the art of holding my camera as far away as I can without dropping it and try not to look too cross eyed in the photo. It's a work in progress.
I then headed out to the ruins.
Obligatory photo of Grand Plaza viewed from top of pyramid.
Trying to protect myself from the mid-day sun and 33C heat. While standing on the edge of a pyramid.
Standing on the edge again. You'd hardly know I'm afraid of heights!
Longest written text ever found. Over 2000 characters, the stairs were in pieces strewn around the site and were put back together again.
After going to Tikal, the site in Copan seemed positively tiny. In the end, I actually preferred the museum to the ruins because there was so much in the museum that I'd never seen before. The museum also had great signs explaining all of the artifacts but only one section of the ruins, a small residential section, had any signs at all. The one thing I didn't check out at the ruins were the two tunnels built by archaeologists to examine the temples that were buried underneath other temples. The overwhelming majority of posts I read about the tunnels said that it wasn't worth it to see them. After visiting the museum, I'd decided to get a ticket to the tunnels anyway. I figured I'd traveled all the way to Honduras, I might as well pay the $20 CAD to see the tunnels, but I wasn't able to buy a ticket at the entrance to the ruins and I didn't want to go all the way back to the main entrance so I missed them.
After walking through the ruins I decided to check out the nature trail by the entrance. The sign said it would take 30 minutes to do the entire loop. Although I enjoyed the walk in the jungle and I saw some cool very large trees, I didn't see much of anything else, including signs pointing me towards the exit and I started getting a bit creeped out. Thankfully, just after the 30 minute mark, I saw a sign pointing me towards the exit. Phew!
There were no tuk tuks at the exit so I walked back to the town. On the North side of the road, there was a wide sidewalk that took me all the way to the road leading into Copan Ruinas. I even passed two stelae with signs explaining their origin along the way.
Sign along the sidewalk that I took back into Copan Ruinas. The path in the blue section of the map is the nature trail that I followed. It's bigger than the path around the Grupo Principal, the main section of ruins that I visited. There are other, smaller sections in other areas, but I didn't visit those.
Nice sidewalk back into town. You can see one of the stelae on the right.
Back in town, I first looked for the woman I'd seen a couple of times selling mango. In her usual spot were three kids selling fruit. I asked how much for the mango and the young girl gave me the side eye and quoted $1.50, which I paid. As I turned to leave, the three kids laughed and cheered. Clearly, they were delighted about overcharging the dumb gringo. Meanwhile, I was delighted at the cheap price for two huge mangoes which ended up being the bestest mangoes I have ever eaten. So everyone was happy. Though I may have ruined it for future mango shopping gringos. Sorry.
I then headed over to Café San Rafael where, according to many reviews, I needed to try the cheese platter. At $7.50, I was expecting an appetizer sized plate. It was not appetizer sized. I managed to finish it, but only just, and only because it would be my only other meal of the day. I was heading back to the hotel for a quick swim and to get some work done, and wouldn't be heading out again for the day.
The oddly colored cheese in the middle was cheddar. No idea why it was that color but it tasted good!