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04:10 pm: Copan Ruinas

Posting from Copan Ruinas, on our second day of the trip.

Day one was pretty exciting. Neither of us bothered to verify the actual departure time of our flight, and we wound up missing it. That’s a first for me, and it didn’t feel as bad as I expected. Fortunately, the nice people at American Air were able to re-book us on a later flight, which had us getting into San Pedro Sula at 7pm rather than our intended 1pm. The flight we actually got on had the number “525,” and we caught an extended interview with the Dalai Lama on the airport TVs … so I’ll take it as an overall win.

Finally landed in S.P.S around 8 (with mechanical delays and the rest) and were treated to a second totally new experience: Disease screening with the very real threat of quarentine. All 200+ of us from the plane were herded into a small hallway prior to customs, and subjected to a thermal imaging of our faces. I imagine that it might have picked up fever or something. Anyway, I’ve never been herded around by men in white coats and TB masks before. It was a little stressful. We checked “no” to all the questions and got on our way.

At around 9pm, we finally emerged from customs and met our driver, who had been waiting for us since around 1pm. Apparently, despite all our attempts to reach various folks, nobody bothered to call him and tell him we were on the later flight.

There followed a dark and twisty three hour van ride through the mountains to the town of Copan Ruinas. Our driver is a hero to me. If he hadn’t been waiting for us, it would have gotten hairy. He got us checked into the hotel around midnight, and we agreed to meet at 10 this morning to start our tours.

Turns out he’s also our tour guide for the first couple of days here. We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, at which redmed proceeded to astonish me by casually conversing with the nice man at the next table over – in what sounded like fluent French. That puts her at either three or fur usable languages if you count Haitian creole. Around 10 we finished up breakfast and found our tour guide having breakfast at the same restaurant chatting up the local girls.

We went to the Mayan ruins and wandered around looking at 1500 year old temples and residences, all the while talking biology and birds. Turns out that our guide is also something of a botanist. Cool dude. I can’t do justice to the ruins without the pictures to back up my descriptions – but “wow.” Another of those places with a visceral, spiritual power from having been treated as sacred to so many thousands of people.

We paused for lunch at a restaurant, and then proceeded to the bird preserve which, while it’s a zoo, is a very nice zoo. Macaws and parrots on my arm, that sort of thing.

Our hotel has an old-school sort of elegance, with really heavy beams, wrought iron curtain holders, heavy tile floors, and so on. The people are very friendly, even with my nonexistant limited Spanish. Another good number for the room – 303.

Tonight, the plan is to go out for dinner – and then perhaps sit on one of the verandas smoking a high grade cigar and sipping 12 year old rum – both recommended by that same guide. What a guy. I intend to share his contact info broadly – I think he’s probably capable of setting up a darn nice trip even without the overhead of the the tour company (who are fine, don’t get me wrong, but I like this person we’re dealing with. Next time we come down this way, we plan to cut out the middle man.

Originally published at chris.dwan.org. You can comment here or there.



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