I only spent 48 hours in Honduras, entering from Guatemala and back into Guatemala enroute to El Salvador. The bus left Antigua at 4:30am that morning to beat the morning traffic jams that plague the only road connecting Antigua and Guatemala City. Along the way there were constant police check points and on some occasions the request to see the passports of all those onboard. The border crossing from Guatemala directly into El Salvador (Sabanetas) is not open for foreigners travelling for whatever reasons. I stayed in a small town called Copan Ruinas or simply Copan which is located around a main square with a white washed church which I soon found to be the welcoming sign and centre of most Central America towns I visited. Copan has a western vibe, the locals wear jeans, boots and cowboy hats. It was hot, it was humid and it was steamy. The streets filled with colourful flags and cobblestone pavements.
The evening in Copan was spent travelling about an hour along a bumpy, rural dirt road where chickens darted from the road and dogs lazed, undisturbed and unconcerned to the local hot springs. This is where everyday life exists – men gather around the front of a simple home chatting; small farms with crops; green valleys and creek crossings.
The Copan Archaeological Site sits just outside Copan town. It is a five minute tuk tuk ride to be exact. Saul, who shared Copan Ruinas with me, was an interesting man – growing up in Honduras during the 60s and 70’s he experienced first hand civil unrest, violence and constant feeling of uncertainty. The only constant in his life was music – playing the guitar, singing and learning English by listening to the popular 70s bands – The Doors, The Rolling Stones and his favourite, The Beatles.
This site is considered one of the most important Maya civilisations and is an Unesco World Heritage Site with much of the ruins still buried underground and untouched. The main reason is due to lack of funding. The ruins may not be as grand as those in Mexico however this makes the site much more intimate as visitors numbers aren’t high and it is quite haunting to wander through.
Its not exactly known why Copan was abandoned, however one reason that archaeologists believe is that the population grew so rapidly meaning agricultural resources were depleted. To combat this deforestation began around the area, along with further urbanisation to cope with demand, erosion through this mountainous area occurred which equaled flooded in the wet season.
Next stop…El Salvador.