Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Days 33-35: Honduras to Nicaragua and Some Seriously Awesome Mayan Ruins!

Okay, folks. Starting out with a shout-out. If you're ever in Honduras, you really have to see the Copan Ruins. Even Bruce enjoyed these, though I have to admit our guide, Juan, was awesome and had a lot to do with that. While your there, the place to stay is Hotel y Hostel Yazkim Copan in the town of Copan Ruinas. Zoila and Emilio are awesome hosts! We got a nice, private room with air, hot water, and wi-fi for a reasonable rate. On top of that, several meals were included. Zoila just took us under her wing. Because Bruce is still eating soft foods, she cooked his foods to make sure they were soft for him. Even made mashed potatoes especially for him! What was most surprising was that when we got there with no cash, the bank closed, and the ATM empty, Zoila never batted an eye. "Es bueno." She took us in and fed us, and then the next morning, told us to go enjoy the ruins before worrying about coming back to pay her. She is an awesome lady, and Emilio (who is also awesome, but in a more quiet kind of way) traces his lineage all the way to one of the Mayan kings at Copan!

When had to go through a wooded area to get from the parking lot to the ruins. A couple of toucans flew right in front of us, almost hitting us. I tried to get a picture, but our guide, Juan, said it was nearly impossible. Sometimes they come to the feeders for lunch, when there's fruit instead of seeds, but that's the only time you can get them to be still long enough for a picture. All of the animals in the park are wild. How would you like these to visit your bird feeder?!

The Ruins at Copan are considered one of the most important ruins of the Mayan empire because of the history that was recorded there. Each Mayan city is known for something - sports, battle, etc. Copan was known for art and history keeping.

This is one of the statutes built by the king, 18 Rabbit. The color is original.

This staircase was made to write the history of the kings of Copan. When archeologists reassembled it, they put it in the wrong order.

This is the ball field. Keep in mind, that during the Mayan times, there was no grass or trees. Everything was cut down and stuccoed (even the ground) and many places had red dye added to it. I'm standing beside the cheap seats to take this picture. The area where the masses assembled held 27,000 people. Not far to my right (but now somewhat obstructed by trees) is a straight-on view where the king's box was.

The face on the corner is Chuck, the rain god.

This is the only statue that kept its nose when the masses rebelled. The Mayan nobility prided themselves on having large noses and would even depress newborn skulls to make the nose appear more prominent. When Emilio was telling me about his heritage, he made sure to point out his prominent nose, of which he is very proud!

This is Smoke Jaguar in the warriors' area. I think I found where John Travolta got his moves!

This is the kings' residence. When the king died, he was buried in his residence. All of the old temples and buildings were also buried, and a new city built in honor of the new king.

For some perspective, this is how big some of these structures were, and this is without the top. The top of this structure (a giant crocodile) is in a museum in London.

Each of these stones is labled about where it came from. This was at the new site that was recently discovered and only opened in 2013. It is where the military and watch stayed. There is a Clarion Hotel built in what once was the lagoon, where military sacrifices were made. Some say the hotel is haunted because of all of the skeletons that were disturbed when the hotel was built.

Juan said this guy is a cousin to the quetzel bird. He called it a Motmot. There were two of them, and they didn't sit still for long. Bruce was awesome for getting this shot.

When we got back to the hotel, there was a festival going on for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

With a superb mariachi band!

Zoila said it was fine to go into the cemetery and take pictures of how the graves are decorated. They go all out! The festival and everything made me think of an exaggerated Irish wake. Lots of fun!

This is the front of Zoila and Emilio's hotel, so you can recognize it.

Driving through the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa.

Be prepared. This is what traffic looks like heading into the Honduras/Nicaragua border - and it gets worse the closer you get!

This is the check out of Honduras side. BTW, without me even saying the name of their country, several people made sure I knew the correct way to pronounce Honduras (throughout the country). The H is silent, and the O is long. Checking out of Hondurase was easy peasy. Get your passports cleared first (with electronic fingerprints) because they have to stamp the cancelled vehicle permit into your passport, also. When we first pulled up, the car was swarmed. One guy changing money (Lempira to Cordobas at 1.1. They were trading at 1.2 when I looked them up yesterday. We took the exchange. Then, there were guides wanting to clear us through everything. I decided I could do it myself.

On the Nicaragua side, an official-looking guy came out of a building. He told us how much each thing would cost, for a total of 1500 cordobas. I checked the math, took a picture of his name badge, gave him our stuff and the cordobas. After he left, I rechecked the math (found my error) and thought about it a bit. I had just paid a guide to do something I could have done myself. Oh, well. It was about $13 US, and so long as I didn't have to stand in line and be with him for the paperwork, it might be okay. I was not in the best of moods, anyway. Bruce and I had started the morning right with a stupid argument over what to call the different currencies. While we just hung out in the breeze (which was nice where we were parked), Tramitador Autorizado Rosales got all of our stuff taken care of. Periodically, he would bring me documents to sign, like the health certificate and insurance, and he brought customs over for the inspection and the sprayers to spray the car. People who seemed to have been there a long time were still waiting when we were finished and ready to go. Sr. Rosales said that I needed to be the driver when we passed the police checkpoint becase the truck is in my name, but that we were both authorized to operate the it once we passed the police point. So, I got in the driver's seat, and he directed traffic out of my way. One last check at customs and to the police to just look and make sure the right vehicle was going with the right people, and we were done. Worth every penny! We double checked the math against the receipts and documents that were provided, and that was definitely a well-spent $13 US. Yeah, I could have done it myself, but it was so much easier this way, and my mood was improving.

So, here I am driving through some of the most beautiful countryside we've seen. There are bird-crossing and snake-crossing signs, and it's just beautiful. And Bruce doesn't take a single picture other than of me driving! By the time I got pulled over, the scenery was much different. Still lovely, but not nearly as unique.

So, that takes us to Nicaragua. See you again after we cross into Costa Rica!


  1. So pleased to read something positive about Honduras. It is a fabulous country. I am an expat from the States, living here for 9 years. We chose the Caribbean Coast because it put us closer to our families in Florida and the Mid-west than living in Hawaii did. Please come to Honduras again. Every area from the rainforest, to the ocean, sea and uplands is different. Yet each is beautiful and filled with wonderful folks. Happy travels~ Malana

  2. I always read about Honduras as a very dangerous place. Did you feel that way during your stay there and driving there? What is that health certificate that you mentioned when you crossed the boarder? Something you had to bring from the USA or something you got locally?