Friday, October 3, 2008

Part I - My Trip to Copán

Wahoo - I hope that is not a phrase that is copyrighted! My son took his R&R from his job in Iraq (he works for a private contractor there) and came to visit his Mom! He deserved a vacation. After working 4 months at 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, his R&R was much needed.

Second, Wahoo - he and I took a few days before coming to the island to take a short vacation in Copán. Copán is my favorite vacation spot. I love that town. The ambiance, the beautiful valleys and mountains, the lovely village of Copán and the Ruinas! My husband and I had been to Copán about 4 years ago and we both fell in love with the place, thus, I wanted my son to experience the wonder that is Copán.

He arrived in San Pedro Sula on a Saturday and we spent the weekend shopping, eating at wonderful restaurants there and relaxing in the hotel pool. On Monday our hired driver, Oscar, picked us up at 8:30 a.m. for the trip to Copán.

I felt it would be far better to take a van going up to Copán so that we could see all the sites unemcumbered, take photos and stop when we wanted. Our return trip was on a Hedman Alas bus - but that is another part of the story. The trip to Copán from San Pedro Sula is about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Copán Ruinas is located on the western side of Honduras, very near the border with Guatemala. It is only 12 km from the border crossing point of El Florido, and about 240 km from Guatemala City and 160 km from San Pedro Sula, which is the main Honduran gateway into Copán. Santa Rosa de Copán is the capital of the department (local equivalent to a state) of Copán. Copán ranks among the most important of Maya sites for many reasons, but foremost among these is its vast number of hieroglyphic texts. It is the site of a major Maya kingdom of the Classic era (5th through 9th Centuries). For its relative small size (many other sites in the Maya lowlands are physically larger), the amount of inscribed materials at Copán are truly astounding, suggesting that in some way the elite culture of this ancient kingdom was particularly interested in literate culture and whatever that entailed. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that Copán has long been a focus of intensive epigraphic investigation.

The highway to Copán is a two lane road and, for the most part, a nice road with relatively little traffic. Of course we were traveling during the "off season" so traffic was even less than what my husband and I had encountered on our previous trip.

We settled in and watched the wonderful scenery unfold. Within an hour and a half we were higher up in the mountains and viewed beautiful valleys. My son was enthralled. All he has seen for 4 months was sand, sand and more sand with an occasional sand storm tossed in for good measure. The green was overwhelming for him - he said he never realized how beautiful green was (I think there is a song about green and frogs, but I just can't remember the title). We passed a raging river that would have been really gorgeous except for the fact that all the silt from the topsoil had rendered it brown and unappealing.

The road from San Pedro Sula to Copán takes you through a large commercial town called La Entrada de Copán, (The Entrance to Copán) which is still 64 km. from Copán Ruinas. On both sides of the streets are various vendors, vegetable stands and people wandering from one booth to another looking for bargains. I managed to snap some photos but the one I like the most was this one. For the life of me I cannot figure out what in the world was to have been built on top of the building pictured. Rebar is sticking up all over the top of the edifice leaving one to wonder if they were anticipating expansion or simply put in rebar that was not the right length and no one bothered to cut it off!

As we continued down the highway which, up to this point had been in pristine condition, traffic suddenly slowed to a crawl. When we reached the front of the line we were met with what appeared to have been a mudslide. The rains had taken their toll and tons of dirt were covering the highway. Apparently crews had been working many hours to remove the earth from the road but the process was slow. You can't really see it from this photo, but on the other side of the pile of dirt on the right was a large dip in the road and I would hate to think what damage a truck or bus could incur when passing through this portion of road.

Further on down the road we again came to a crawl. This time it was not a mudslide but cows being herded down the highway! I had to chuckle thinking of what people in the states would do if their one and only main road was being used to herd cows! Of course, Oscar, our driver, took it in stride and didn't seem to be surprised at all by the presence of the herd.

We finally reached Copán and were intent upon finding our hotel. I had booked rooms at the Hacienda San Lucas but our driver was not familiar with the establishment and had to stop and ask no less than 5 different people, getting 5 different directions. We finally were pointed in the right direction and, after a 20 minute trip up a dirt road running along side the river, we arrived. Nestled in the hills above the tranquil Copán Valley, Hacienda San Lucas is a 100-year old family-owned retreat uniquely situated directly above the world-renowned Maya ruins of Copán. Hacienda San Lucas was recently restored by Flavia Cueva, the owner/manager and is a solar-powered adobe hacienda. The place was charming and tranquil. However, due to the fact that we only had 2 nights in Copán I decided that the distance to travel (which would have been much better had the road not incurred damage from the rain) to the town would interfere with our schedule. Flavia assured us that she understood our predicament and offered to find us a hotel in town. I thanked her but told her that my alternative choice for now was Hotel Don Udos. Had we more time, the Hacienda would have been a lovely place to stay with much to offer. However, since time was of the essence, I thanked our host and we climbed back into our van and proceeded to Don Udos.
Hotel Don Udo has 16 comfortable rooms each decorated in a different style offering private bathrooms with hot and cold water, ceiling fan, purified drinking water, and automatic international calls. Most rooms have A/C and cable TV. There was a full service restaurant and from reputation we understood that the cuisine was excellent. The hotel had a cozy bar, Copán's only sauna & Jacuzzi, swaying hammocks, and the fabulous views from the sun deck. Fortunately it was the "off season" and rooms were available. We checked in, unpacked and prepared for our first excursion.



  1. Sounds great so far... can't wait to hear the rest of the story. Oh, I think the song you were referring to (about green & frogs) was the song Kermit sang: "It's not easy being green."
    Love ya!

  2. I think I need to read your blog more often as you offer many wonderful aspects of Honduras. And I enjoyed this uplifting post about your son. I'm still thinking of buying something in the area. Would you mind if I contacted you at some point in the future to ask some questions?

    Nice post.