Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The end of the ruin.

Okay so far we’d been to Teotihuacan, Mitla, Palenque, Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Tikal. That was a lot of ruins. But we still had one left to visit – so bear with me please. Today it was the ruins of Copan located just outside of town beside the highway. Thanks to an overcast morning the walk was bearable and even kinda pretty. The Honduran government had wisely built a sidewalk set 10 feet back from the highway to prevent tourists from becoming a cross on the side of the road. But it didn’t make the occasional transport truck hurtling down the road any less frightening.

The sun decided to come out in full force as soon as we got to the entrance to the ruins. Oh great and I’d forgotten my sun hat. (Actually, I hadn’t forgotten it so much as lost it somewhere.) But what made me cranky was the entry fee. They had sneakily divided it up into three parts. The ruins were $15 (yup dollars). The museum where they put all the good stuff was another $7 and the tunnels to see the preserved temple was another $15. So if you wanted to see everything that would be a whopping $37 – US! We cheaped out and only paid for the access to the ruins and were determined to milk our time there for every penny.  

The first stop is the nature trail and Adrian insists we should check it out. I quickly discover it should just be called the trail trail because the only nature we saw was a moth and hundreds of mosquitoes that immediately began feasting on me. There was no wildlife although there were many signs advising us on how to identify the creatures if we found them. The trail went on for an hour and ended just outside the gate to the ruins where a flock of macaws was nesting in a tree. So a tip if you want to see nature, skip the nature trail and follow the road instead.

Inside the park, we stopped to guzzle some water, buy some more and then guzzle that too. It was going to be a slow day. But it did help us get refreshed to check out what Copan is famous for. It didn’t have the great temple structures or immense area or even a special history. Nope the site was compact and the buildings were small. But they were covered in relief sculptures and hieroglyphics, that researchers were still trying to translate. And that was something new to make the visit worthwhile.

We walked slowly through the grounds waiting for clouds to block out the sun to try to make it easier. And many of the major points of interest were covered by a tarp to keep the sun from damaging them, including the hieroglyphic staircase. It was comprised of 63 steps all covered in some sort of message about the ruler who ordered it built. Unfortuanately the elements had worn away some of the symbols and time had loosened and scrambled many of the other stones. So the message hasn’t been completely deciphered. I hope after all that effort it doesn’t just say “drink more ovaltine” (gold star to the first person to identify that reference).

But this was our 8th ruin visited and I have to say I had less enthusiasm this time. Probably because the high price meant we had to pass on some of the more interesting things. The museum contained a reproduction of the buried colourful temple and the tunnels let you see the real thing. Or perhaps it was the heat. It occurred to me that every temple was stinking hot and perhaps the archeologists should start considering that the real reason they were all abandoned hundreds of years ago was heat stroke.

On our way back to town, we realized that one of the farms we had passed was actually a cock fighting ring. Yup right there on the highway across from the police check point. So I guess it’s legal here. That might explain  why they were so loud – I’d be screaming to be let out if I was being held until I had to fight to my death.

In town, we stopped for pupusas. Lunch for $3 my favourite kind . They were served with beetroot and other pickled veg that I had to beg Adrian to try. I knew he like it but he put up a fight and then finally gave in to try it but not without proclaiming “I’ll try it but I won’t like it.” Of course he did like it. “It tastes just like beetroot” (duh). He liked it even more when I told him how much it cost and helped himself to more.

We were originally going to head out to a macaw farm where there was a pond to swim in. But once at the hostel we were too hot and tired. We’d seen lots of macaws at the ruins. The farm was going to cost us another $25+ so instead we opted for a free shower at the hostel with it’s awesome water pressure. It was just as refreshing but perhaps not as fun. And it gave us time to make plans for our departure the next day. We were headed to the Caribbean coast of Honduras which looked like it was going to be disappointing and relatively pricey. We’d finished with ruins and only 3 days in I was starting to feel like we should finish with Honduras.  


Ayngelina said...

Ooh I want a gold star - The Christmas Story!

liz and adrian said...

gold star for ayngelina!

cheryl said...

this is what i get for pacing myself through the posts! a lousy runner up prize.

liz and adrian said...

whoops sorry cmck.

here's a gold star for just being totes awes.

Nómada 23 said...

After rading all your posts it seems that you have learned about avoiding getting ripped off and how tourist prices are unfair. Definitely too many ruins in such short time, I wouldn't be able to take it. I guess the real fast pace and all the multiple forms of transport and activities dont let you enjoy all of the time. Do you think it would be better to take it slower and enjoy fewer places than try to see so many? You should be able to enjoy the Honduras islands, everybody else seems to do! :-)

liz and adrian said...

it's true nomada23; there were lots of ruins. We did enjoy them all but i'm glad we're through with them for a while. I think we did a good job of spacing them out.

We haven't been moving too fast, in fact i think some towns we stayed too long. But you live and learn. And in a week it'll be our 90 day anniversary on the road so I'll post a little lessons learned posting.

Nómada 23 said...

great! I really am planning ny rtw around others experiences and tips.