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Copan Ruinas, Honduras

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Copan RuinsChurch in Copan RuinasHitching our way into HondurasCopan detail

Eric and I spent Saturday afternoon at a great local food festival in Juayua before taking a series of buses to San Salvador. We then spent two very boring and uneventful days in El Salvador’s capital city. Unfortunately, the so-called “cultural heart of El Salvador” turned out to be little more than a lack-luster, nondescript city that was full of fast food restaurants and malls.

Both Eric and I had been intrigued by “the idea” of San Salvador, but after walking the city for hours we found little worth visiting. Nearly every street looked the same and all were decked with Pizza Huts, Burger Kings and Wendy’s. They even use the American Dollar as their sole currency. A lot of people skip the country of El Salvador all together when traveling through Central America. After visiting San Salvador I can see why. I will say Juayua was great and I’m sure there are other nice spots to be found, but San Salvador had us looking for the next bus to the boarder.

On Monday morning we woke up at 4:45 am and headed to the bus station to catch an early bus bound for the boarder town of El Poy. The bus ride took nearly four hours and we ended up entering Honduras around 9:20 in the morning. In a manner similar to our entering El Salvador, we walked across the Honduras border and requested that our passports be stamped. After exiting immigration we began to walk down the road, not knowing how far we would need to walk in order to catch the next bus. As we trudged along the road, a large open-bed truck filled with rocks pulled up next to us. The guy on the passenger side stuck his head out the window and, with a large, toothless smile, he motioned us to jump in the back. Without hesitation we complied and soon found ourselves racing along the road, sitting atop a pile of rocks in the back of a pickup truck. This took budget traveling to a new level. We ended up getting dropped off at a bus stop several kilometers down the road.

We then took a few more buses and finally arrived at our destination of Copan Ruinas. Located just 12 kilometers from the Guatemalan border, in the extreme western corner of Honduras, Copan Ruinas is another jewel along the Central American trail. Like Antigua and San Pedro, Copan Ruinas is an idyllic town that seems to meet and exceed the dreams of any budget traveler. Beautiful churches, litter-free cobblestone streets, and friendly locals all contribute to making this place one of the nicest spots we’ve visited. The town itself is located just one kilometer from the famous Mayan ruins that share its name.

We have spent the last three days living it up here. We haven’t had a single disappointing meal and have even found what must be the best pizza in Central America. The pizza place I’m referring to is actually owned by an old Texan named Jim, who speaks Spanish with an unapologetic, Southern-drawl. He’s a good ol’ boy but makes a damn fine pizza and has been quite chummy with us. As I said of San Pedro, it would be easy to spend several weeks or even months here.

The last two days we have spent exploring the town and surrounding areas. Today, Wednesday, we woke up early and walked a kilometer to the archaeological site where the ancient Mayan city of Copan once stood. We had heard one traveler try to dismiss the site as simply “a smaller version of Tikal.” After visiting the site we can assure you it is much more than that. It may not be as large as Tikal, but the stone sculptures and intricate detailing made these ruins arguably more impressive. Some of the stone figures and faces of the ancient Mayan rulers struck me as looking almost Asian and brought to mind sites I’ve visited in China and Southeast Asia.

Tomorrow we plan to head to Lake Yojoa and spend a couple days relaxing. From there we will be heading to Comayagua to visit our friend Leah Vinton who has been living and teaching English there for nearly a year. I will tell you all more tales of misadventure from the lake.

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