After a rather precarious drive due to rain and inclines and sharp bends we finally made it to Copan. Spent 15 minutes deciding whether to stay with the super sweet boy-lady (Si thinks it was a boy, me a girl) or the super sweet lady’s hostel. Then headed out to a cutesy cheap typical Hondoran meal (pretty much the same as the other ‘typicals’ for me– no cost guilt of great food to make up for the French Bistro!)
Up at 8am to see the ruins. They are approximately 1300 years old and first spotted by an Spanish Explorer in the 1500s, but not seen again or excavated until the late 19th Century. One of the major cities of the Mayan Empire from approx. 450-800 AD. We looked around, walked on, walked through, temples, palaces, ball courts (could end in sacrifice) alters, etc. All very cool. I like to explore. Which led us to ‘Las Sepultures’ about 15 minutes walk further out which was a more residential area, less grand and impressive, but a bit more fun in terms of climbing on and in things and exploring! We also had a guide here, as I made the mistake of telling him I could speak a little Spanish. He then spoke to me as if I was fluent, and was telling me to translate to Si. He seemed sweet, so I would pretend translate, telling Si ‘so.. you kinda got what I did anyway, now look impressed, then frown, and now we shall both smile, understand?’
There are so many theories about the Mayans (Tin Hat Thomas’s favourite is to do with 2012 and the reset of the Mayan calendar and the change that is coming. Also the transcendence theory.) Some think the apocalypse, others more of a spiritual change. Like the other earlier cultures such as the Inca’s and Aztecs their accuracy, building and astronomy was incredible. Sun timings, placement of monuments, etc. The most agreed reasons for the demise of Copan (and other Mayan main cities) was over-farming/overpopulation… and in Copan’s case the high level of mercury in the water due to the use of it in their red paint (not so clever after all eh?) As always, insane to try and picture life in these times and that these buildings ere used and lived in. In a way it seems like some fun old styled theme park. Then later, sitting with a beer, it all sinks in, and the only word that comes to mind is ‘fuck’. So many questions, and so few answers (thanks Spain).
Copan Ruinas itself is such a cool little town, cobbled streets littered with electric tuk tuks and god only knows how they make it up the steep streets. The little main square is littered with them, all shouting ‘taxi, taxi?’ after one another as if you would walk past and suddenly think ‘YES! That is what I want! How did I forget?!’. It’s so noisey. A little place, but our guide told us ‘they just celebrate everything’. What a way to look at life! Every night we were falling asleep to a drum/xylophone recital (even ‘Waving flag’!) crossed with the Church Choir. At about 6:30 a.m. the xylophone (thankfully no drum) would start again. I also loved all the people in cowboy hats that we’ve been seeing… especially those staggering home at night. Seems much more dignified than the usual drunk stagger. Brits – take note. Ate that night in a place called ‘Lolita’ where the waitresses brought the food to us on their heads. Nice place, but sulky waitresses (why…. I wonder…?)
Though all the brochures we’d seen before leaving said you can make tortillas there was a severe lack of tortilla tours… and when I asked one agency if I could make tortilla’s anywhere she looked at me like I was insane. (I do realise these would have been 15 minute tours but still.. ) Instead we booked to go to Finca El Cisn , a 135 year old family run coffee farm run by Carlos. Picked up in a 4×4, stood on the back for the journey, a bit like car surfing or car skiing? Very free. Awesome countryside. We went horse riding around the coffee and cardamon plantations. Again, so free. Gorgeous, well tempered horses. Si, who in Cuba hater horse riding has seemed to fallen in love with it (I thought he would.. which is why I didn’t ask him to go… merely told him we were). Carlos’ estate is huge, and he made you feel like a guest, rather than part of a tour group. Again, on the way back it started to rain so we cantered (I think… not totally sure of my horse riding terminology) and really really regretted wearing a bikini top. Pain.
We had an incredible lunch, where everything was freshly grown in the estate… and I even got to help make the (a…) tortilla. After lunch we went to see the processing of the coffee. They are part of a co-op (guessing fair trade) and the roasting is one in the exporting countries. They are thinking of starting to grow Cacoe as Carlos thinks the coffee market will become saturated soon (which is also why they grown Cardoman.. the 2nd most traded spice in the world, don’t you know). Driving around the Estate you very much did feel like you were with the Lord of the Manor (which of course we were). Such a fun, random, learning experience and we shared it with a wonderful couple on their honeymoon, from California. They had met on the Bay Islands, so married there and thought they would come see the ruins as well. On the way back we stopped off at some thermal hot springs. Beautifully done, and aside from being attacked by fire ants (thankfully the pools healed our feet) it was fantastic. I even got Si to try a mud masque.