Sitting in hot water
Copan Ruinas, Honduras
I woke up really early (again) this morning.
And at 5.30am it was sunrise time – so I went up to the roof to have a look.
It was quite nice, the sky turned pink over the surrounding mountains. However, I do prefer sunsets! Then went back to bed.
At 7am, headed off for some breakfast. There was a small cafe just down the street from the hotel – and it had a pretty courtyard, full of flowers and a massive mango tree. I had pancakes and they came sandwiched together with a caramel banana goo. Really tasty!
Then at 8am, we caught tuk tuks ($1 each) down to the Copan ruins. It wasn’t too far away – only about a 10 minute ride. The tuk tuks were just like in India!
Copan ruins are the Southernmost Mayan ruins – and the last ones (of 4!) that I will be visiting. Again, they are a UNESCO world heritage site (!) and were built around AD250-900. This Mayan city was built exactly 150km from the Caribbean coast and 150km from the Pacific coast. It is thought this was for trading purposes. Very clever!
It was a $15 entrance fee. So a little cheaper than Tikal, but more than Chichen Itza. We had a guide for the group, who took us around some of the area. After a short walk through a jungle area, we spotted some brightly coloured macaws. Bright red, yellow and blue! They mate for life and were hanging around in pairs. Cute!
The first part of the ruins we visited was the acropolis. Part of the VIP section of the city. There were 2 large pyramids, at right angles to each other. Apparently this area used to be flooded during the rainy season, to store up water in a reservoirs for the dry season.
Just behind these pyramids was the El Cementario – a fully excavated area of small pyramids and the houses of the villagers. The East Plaza (Patio de Los jaguars) is a large green square, surrounded by steps. Used as an entertainment square, people would sit on these steps to watch shows and dances. It was possible to walk all around the edge – great views! From here, you also had a panoramic view of the large Great Plaza.
The Great Plaza was a massive green field. The Ball Court much smaller than the other ruins (Chitchen Itza was massive – and is the largest). And the biggest pyramid had a very elaborately decorated Hieroglyphic stairway. The stairway was protected by a tarpaulin cover (which kind of ruined the photos!) Overall, these ruins weren’t as impressive as Tikal. Tikal was my favourite.
But what was different was the amount of detailed, ornate hieroglyphics that were still visible. Carved into the pyramids, onto random stones and onto larger columns, which have been preserved.
No one knows how to read these though, so for now, they are just pretty carvings! After a while wandering around, we headed out.
There was a ’30 minute’ jungle trail towards the exit. So we went to have a look. An hour later, it finally ended. And wasn’t that exciting!! Luckily there was a woman at the end of the trail selling mangos! ($1 for 4 small cut up mangos!). Lovely!
We headed back into town and for lunch, we went back to the same breakfast cafe. It was cheap and great food! I tried some pupusas. Small round fried tortillas, 2 were filled with mushed up black beans and the other filled with cheese. Came with a salsa and a spicy sauce (50L – £1.50) and very tasty!
We then called by the supermarket for some bus snacks for the journey tomorrow!! The food here is so unhealthy. Lots of crisps, flour tortillas, cheese etc.
After a quick rest, we headed back out at 4pm, for the 1 hour drive to the Aguas Calientes – hot springs! We drove through farm land, mountains, over rivers, through cute villages, saw a few cool birds and some drying corn. And through a lot of pot holes – the road was awful!!
The area was full of locals when we arrived – 2 large pools, full of dirty looking water. And lots and lots of people staring at us. Hmmmmm… Then we were told that we weren’t at these pools – actually we were going to the ‘spa’ just behind. We paid $35 for the transport, spa entrance and dinner. Actually quite expensive!
We had to cross over a rope bridge, across a small river and through a small jungle. And we reached a boiling hot stream – apparently 95 degrees. It was steaming. Here there were several pools, all built into the forest. Very cute!! And we had the whole place to ourselves.
The first we went in was small pool, big enough for about 8 people. It was really warm. Here, you can put mud on yourself! I’ve never done it before – it’s a bit stony and gritty, you smear it all over your face and arms and then wait until it drys, before washing it off.
I was surprised that my skin actually felt very smooth afterwards!! The next pool, slightly up the hill, involved walking through a very hot waterfall first. This pool was a lot larger. And boiling. It was so hot I could barely sit down. I only stayed about a minute – far too hot for me!!
So back down the hill, and tried the steam pool – boiling water all steaming around you. Them returned to a more temperate pool – and stayed there for ages.
It soon got dark, and candles were lit all around us, with the loud sounds of the jungle all around. Some American army boys were on a weekend away and decided to join us. Of course they did. A whole group of girls.
For dinner, we had a barbecue next to the hot springs. Mushed up beans (standard), salsa (standard), flour tortilla (standard). It was good.
Then the hour journey back to Copan. It was 10pm by the time we got back – and straight to bed!
Update : I used the ATM here in Copan. On the road next to the church. (There are only about 2 ATMs in the town). It only took Visa – and was the only time I used my Visa card for the entire trip. Since returning home, it appears that my card was copied / data stolen from using this ATM (my bank told me that people at the banks sell data – its not necessarily the ATMs) and almost $2k taken from that account. This is clearly not an isolated Copan problem. I had read about the ATMs in Antigua being compromised. So I didn’t use any of the machines there. For the rest of the trip I used a MasterCard. This account was also the subject of fraud, of around $1.5k. Luckily I was back at home when it happened. So I was able to cancel the cards and have them reissued. I can imagine it’s a massive problem if you are still away and therefore unable to receive a new card. I wasn’t the only person on the trip to be targeted. If I was returning, I would take enough cash to last the journey through Honduras and avoid all ATMs.