The Church and Central Plaza of Copan Ruinas
So focused was I on the ancient Mayan ruins at Copan, that I was not expecting anything from the modern town. Merely eight blocks square, a buzzing plaza with a church, an airstrip and a soccer field, Copan is quaint, the ruins less than 15 minutes delightful walk away. Narrow streets hug the contours of the hill the town is built on, lined on both sides by colonial houses with alluringly decorated courtyards. Hole-in-the-wall eateries are sprinkled through out the town and immaculate art galleries showcase local artisans, and not output of Chinese manufacturing machines. The town is untouched by modern tourism.
Rhea and I instantly fell in love with Copan.
A Honduran Girl
We happened to be in Copan at a special time. It was Christmas and the town was in a festive mood. The streets were blocked for automobiles and temporary markets were setup. The families had taken to the streets in full force. Four-five generations of Hondurans were having a merry time. The octa- and nonagenarians rocked the youngest generations in their arms, as they rocked themselves in stylish chairs in verandah’s outside the houses and shops. The youngsters were euphoric having discovered unmonitored access to firecrackers, that they gleefully setoff late into the wee hours of the Christmas eve, frequently causing the car alarms to go off. The male teen in trendy clothes with flashy embellishments, smartphones being the most, monopolizing their attention, unless a pretty face fluttered by. And pretty faces there were in abundance – lustrous black hair, fiery eyes, long eyelashes and tanned, fit bodies draped in the trendiest attire was a sight for sore eyes. Their dads, in white sombreros and jeans watched wearily from shaded patios.
The Dons of Copan Ruinas
The tiny town is in love with big vehicles. 3-row seat SUVS with massive tires and 2-row pickup trucks bounced on the heavily cobbled streets, barely able to reach speeds north of twenties. Why do they need such big cars? Large families? Lugging loads of trade? I popped that questions
“No.” said the ice-cream vendor, wiping his brow under the enormous brim of his hat, “American influence. They dump last year’s unsold inventory on us cheap.”
Such a travesty. This is probably the least of the sins Hondurans have suffered at the hands of Uncle Sam. For decades, corporate America has wringed the profits out of fruit and coffee industry of Honduras without repaying. Shamelessly they converted Honduras into the original “banana republic.”
The next time I buy myself a tall 1-raw sugar cappuccino, I hope a few cents go towards infrastructure, employment and education.
Our Copan experience was greatly enhanced by the Yat B’alam hospitality. The lobby of the charming four-room hotel, looks like a street, lined by a tiny cafeteria with a delectable menu, an attractive gallery and a water fountain that sings all day long. Rina, the owner of Yat B’alam was personally present to enthusiastically welcome us. Her gorgeous smile lights up the place and her attention to detail is evident in every single item on display and use.
Lobby of Boutique Hotel Yat B’alam (Photo courtesy Rhea)
“Take your daughter here.” Rina plastered a pamphlet of a local bird sanctuary in my hand. Later when we visited the Macaw Mountain, we were at first disappointed to find the birds caged. It is only later we realized that the sanctuary had rescued ill-treated pet Macaws and were rehabilitating them to eventually set them free.
Just the kind of spirit I would expect in this lovely little tropical town called Copan.
Our beautifully decorated room at Yat B’alam
|A Honduran tuk-tuk|
|An ecstatic Rhea at the Macaw Mountain Bird Sanctuary|
|Public transport, Copan style|
|A fastidiously dressed hombre.|
|A Copan resident.|