Road Trip in Central America

Yikes, time is going so fast…I’ve been a bit slack in the bloggin’ department something I’d like to fix starting today.  I have a few blogs that have been unfinished drafts on in my dashboard but with a 4 day weekend I had some time to finish them up.  Hope you enjoy here’s the first one of that picks up from my trip to El Salvador after the posts I shared in March: first sharing how resort life was, and then shared about the first day trip I went on with my mum.  I always had a plan to share some more stories about the rest of the day trips I went on!  So without any further delay here’s my story from the day I went on a road trip in Central America…when I was in 3 countries in one day!

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On Sunday, February 16th…I got up really early to head to grab some breakfast & then to the front lobby to meet my bus at 6:30am.  The sun was just rising.  The plan of the day was to take a trip to Copan, Honduras.  It was a bit of a road trip…2 1/2 hours through El Salvador, then about an hour through Guatemala…then about 40mins once we crossed into Honduras before reaching the Copan Ruins.

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Before we reached the Guatemala- El Salvador boarder we stopped at a restaurant to use the restrooms.  It was here that one of the people along for the trip realized she grabbed her roommate’s passport from the room safe not hers.  This caused a bit of panic and phone calls back to the resort and tour company operators.

We stopped to get our papers to leave El Salvador approved here at the boarder (pictured below).  The person who forgot their passport was given directions how to take a public bus back to the city we stopped in to use the restrooms… and a taxi was sent from Sonsonate (a city about 2 hours away) to pick her up there…that would be an expensive taxi ride…about $100 US…we got word she arrived back at the resort at about 4pm…just as we were coming back into El Salvador!  Always double check to make sure you have your OWN passport when you are road-tripping over country boarders! El Salvador0134 trip 2

 

When we crossed the boarder from El Salvador and entered into Guatemala it started to rain…it’s funny we went over the mountains and the sun disappeared and the rain started. I was secretly ok with this…as I had gotten a bit too much sun and was nice to be out of the sun for the day!

The boarder crossings were pretty nifty…just a parking gate across the one side of the road.  Before you cross to make it speedier sometimes you can offer an incentive to speed things up. Others might call this practice bribing.  But it worked we didn’t wait long to cross the boarders.

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The Copan Ruins in Honduras are located close to the boarder with Guatemala.  They are one of the best proof of existence of one of the greatest American Pre- Columbian culture.  The Ruins of Copan was declared by UNESCO as patrimony of humanity in 1980.  It is a quiet antique cultural oasis, with sublime nature, located in the eastern part of Honduras.  It is a spot that is very popular for Mayan architecture and millenary heritage.

We met our guide, Oscar…that took us around the ruins. Below he was pointing out the various ruins we would see…and the direction of our tour through the various spots!

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…At the beginning of park was this house for some Scarlett Macaws. These are the national bird of Honduras…a pair was brought here to live but they are free to fly around the ruins and jungle.  But they come back and nest and have their home in the Park-Reserve…I think it’s probably because they are fed. They are chattering, loud birds but so pretty!   El Salvador0142

A lot of the ruins haven’t been restored. They have been kept in place because of the tree roots…but this is a help but also a curse, as the tree roots are forcing the building blocks of the foundations to come apart as well. Below you can see the outline of a few houses….and how the trees are keeping the blocks together. El Salvador0143

Just a random skull rock sitting on the hill… El Salvador0144

Here is one of the sites that has been restored.  This spot is known as the “West Court”…it is a symbolic, sacred landscape.  Its sculptures represent the watery underworld of the Maya cosmos.
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Our tour guide was a wealth of information about the Mayan Ruins…and shared these during our tour in both English and French. El Salvador0147 El Salvador0148

Here you can see where the ruins have been restored on the left…and the rocks/rubble that aren’t restored on the right.  El Salvador0149

Below is the spot that has been popularly known as the “El Cementerio” because of all the graves found around the base of the house structure.  But after learning a bit more…this would have been the Royal Residence for the King.  Mayans liked to keep their ancestors close to them when then died…and often they were buried around the outside base of the families living house.
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The tree below on the left is often called the sunburnt tree…often like tourists that come to visit and let their skin get sun-kissed with too much sun! On the right is the spot known as “the East Court”.  El Salvador0152

The court yard personified the daily cycle of the sun.  It rose in the East as a young god, set in the West as a snarling jaguar, travelled through the darkness of the wet underground, fighting it’s way with blood-thirsty felines, only to come up renewed on the following day. El Salvador0155

Here is a view from above of the Ball Court..this view is on one some of the currency from Honduras. How the ball game was played isn’t really 100% known.  But from some accounts from Spanish historians that witnessed the game in many parts of Meso-america that it was played with a solid rubber ball. This made it very heavy so that the players could only hit it with their hips or could only hit it with their hips or thighs, over which they wore protection.  In some scenes of Mayan art it depicts the bloody sacrifice of the loosing players.

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This main plaza area had a drainage system in place…that small block opening on the photo on the left was the drains to stop the flooding of the main plaza.  Under most of these buildings there are tunnels and other architectural sites that are still being excavated and explored. El Salvador0161

This on the left is the famous staircase of “hieroglyphics”… This is the longest single hieroglyphic inscription in the ancient New World, narrating the official dynastic history of the city. Its main theme was that of royal ancestor worship, embedded in the context of war and sacrifice.  The text was interspersed with the seated portraits of its protagonists, the Sun Kings of ancient Copan, dressed in full warfare regalia.

I absolutely loved the archway of this building along the up-side of the ball court!
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The rest of the Grand Plaza had the “steles”… it was a spot for ritual acts of social importance; principal among those were those related to the worship of the Sun god, K’inich Ahau.

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It was a fantastic walk around the ruins…even though the sun was hiding behind the clouds and it started to drizzle just at the end of the tour!  It was so fascinating to walk around and see these buildings and sites that were built thousands of years ago by the Mayan people.

It is well said that Copan is the Paris of the Mayan world…filled with art and culture. El Salvador0168

…a quick stop at the gift shop where I picked up a book about the Copan Ruins and a Honduras patch for my campfire blanket. El Salvador0169

After our tour around the ruins we went into the City of Copan…for lunch. It was in this awesome little hotel…with wonderful food… choice of fish, chicken or beef… I picked fish! El Salvador0172

After lunch we were given some free time to head into the city centre to shop and site see.  I took the time just to sit in the centre square of the city and take some photos while I was people watching. Below are some of the shots I took while walking around the streets of Copan. El Salvador0176 El Salvador0184 El Salvador0188

It was a fabulous day…a bit rainy but so cool to visit 3 countries in one day.  Here are some last scenes of Honduras before I headed back to the resort! El Salvador0189

It was a fabulous day trip… I was gone from the resort for about a total of 13hours!  Yes, it was a long time in the bus- just over 4 hours one way!  But it was worth it.  I’m glad I took the time to go on this fabulous trip, even if it meant I didn’t have a day on the beach!

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6 thoughts on “Road Trip in Central America

  1. Emely

    Oh my word!! I am so happy that you did your tour around and not just stay at the resort, it`s always good to explore and get into adventures that you have not tried, having the privilege to do this while you can, it`s awesome. The pictures are a mazing, your story is well thought and well written for others to understand some of the culture history. Knowing you were enjoying every minute of it, its more than words can describe and you`ll have the memories all your life… to cherish. So proud of you Sarah. Can`t wait to keep reading more of your other adventures in your life….

    Reply
  2. keenanhaga

    Awesome post. Mayan customs [re: in your post] sounded very similar to the stories I heard at Chitzen Itza — however, your pics were far superior….less touristy than Mexico. Thanks for sharing. ALSO love people watching — nice shots Sarah 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sarah on the Road Post author

      …thanks Keenan! I’ve heard Chitzen Itza was a cool place to visit as well… I think it was because it was a rainy day there weren’t many people exploring the Ruins when I went there!

      Reply

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