On Wednesday we boarded the bus bright and early for our more than six-hour drive to Copan, Honduras. Crossing the border from Guatemala to Honduras was an interesting process. Thankfully Tony was there to translate and give us instructions. You have to pay some sort of tax to enter Honduras, but Gate 1 took care of that for us.
We arrived at the Copan ruins around midday and spent a few hours exploring and admiring the monuments and temples. We had a local tour guide show us around the main features of the complex but had quite a bit of time to ourselves afterwards. We ate lunch at Copan and of course enjoyed an ice cream while we sat in the shade.
What I found interesting about all the Mayan ruins we visited in Honduras and Guatemala was that each of them had their own variation of a ball court. It’s not necessarily surprising to me that the Mayans would have created a sport, especially considering everything else they created, but learning about the ball courts really inspired me to appreciate just how much historians have to discern and piece together about Mayan culture just based on the minimal clues left behind in the form of stone glyphs and plaster.
Copan is HOT and the sun is BRIGHT, so either wear sleeves and pants or lather yourself with sunscreen. My shoulders were definitely a bit baked after just a short time out in the open.
The highlight of Copan for me was seeing the hundreds of wild Macaws flying all around us. Their squawks are loud and can be heard from quite a distance. Macaws are the national bird of Honduras and even though they live freely and naturally in the jungle of Copan, the ruins act as a sanctuary and the employees put out food and water for the birds (including many others, like Quetzals and Crows). We were there during feeding time and got to see several of the wild birds up close.
We spent the night in Copan at another beautiful, Colonial hotel before heading to the ruins of Quirigua in the rainforest. It was hot and humid and I couldn’t wait to get to our hotel for a dip in the pool.
But first we stopped at Castillo de San Felipe at the entrance of Lake Izabal. It was a surprisingly fun detour, and Tony bought me a coconut.
But I was relieved to finally arrive at our hotel in Rio Dulce! I call it a hotel, but it was really more like a cluster of primitive cabins on the private Catamaran Island. Each cabin is built on stilts over the water. It’s really a pretty and secluded spot, but it definitely made us feel close to nature. When we arrived, the plumbing in our cabin wasn’t working because the hotel’s water pump had broken. Fortunately they repaired that while we were at dinner. When we went back to our cabin to go to bed, I found a lizard waiting for me beside my pillow. And there was no shortage of mosquitos. But we had beds and electricity and running water, and the picturesque location made up for any unwelcome insect visitors.
Jumping off the hotel’s dock into the river was certainly the best part about staying at Hotel Catamaran. There was a pool, but it was nothing compared to the beautiful sunset we enjoyed while floating in the warm river water. Dad and I had the whole river to ourselves, save for the odd local fishermen who motored by in their boats.