We’re heading to Copán in northwest Honduras to see one of the great cities of Mayan civilization! History abounds in this area and as we roll through, the smooth Honduran roads are a treat for Bruno. The entire country is filled with lush, green mountains and the endless rolling hills consistently offer beautiful vistas.
Whenever we get hungry and are ready for a serious lunch, we usually find a place to pull over. Today’s lunch site is on a nice little side road next to a banana patch (note: no monkeys were spotted in the patch)!
When it comes to camping with a vehicle, we rely heavily on the website and phone app iOverlander. It is wonderfully useful for finding good camping spots while traveling, and without it our entire journey down to Costa Rica would have been more difficult and costly. Thank you internet for making life easier!
In Copán, we used iOverlander to find this campsite, which is directly across the road from the Mayan Ruins. It’s actually just a nice family who let people park in their spacious yard, using their facilities and electricity for a small fee (150 Lempiras, about $7 USD per night). They have a covered area for tents, if you’ve got one. We saddled Bruno right up beside it and cooked under the shelter.
The next morning we got up early, ate breakfast and walked across the street to buy our entrance tickets as soon as they opened the gates to the ruins.
Copán was once a powerful capital, controlling the southern-most extent of the Mayan civilization. At its peak it had a population of around 20,000 people.
It was fairly quiet in the morning with only a few other small groups of people exploring the site. A nice Belgian tourist took this picture of us, overlooking one of the main plazas of the ancient city.
Copán was populated by Mayans for around 2000 years, but by the time Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 1500’s it was already abandoned. Check out this map showing the extent of the Mayan civilization at it’s peak during the Classic period (250–900 CE):
The center of the city is where the ruling elite lived, where administrative functions were performed, and where religious ceremonies took place. Below is one of the residential areas we wandered through without another soul in sight.
Inhabitants of the city would gather in the central plazas for public activities. There were various buildings used as marketplaces and schools, and they had a big ballcourt where they played a game similar to racquetball.
Mayans also loved the Scarlet Macaw parrot, which is not surprising, considering how colorful and awesome they are! Back when Copán was a thriving city, macaws used to swoop all over the place like nobody’s business. They were kept as pets and the Maya used to engrave tons of macaw heads on their buildings. That’s not all! There is also a Mayan deity that is a macaw, and the first ruler of Copán was known as “Great-Sun First Quetzal Macaw”!
In summary, MACAWS ARE GREAT!!! Copán Ruinas is helping to repopulate macaws in the area. There were feeders with watermelon for the birds to snack on before flying back to the tree tops to squawk the day away.
After watching the macaws eat watermelon for a while, we got hungry ourselves and headed back across the street to eat lunch at our camp spot. You can’t see it, but around the corner in this picture, the young teenager of the Honduran family is blasting a Spanish episode of Los Simpsons.
We returned to the ruins in the afternoon and found a giant tree growing atop an old Mayan building! As you walk around and explore the old city, there are countless piles of ancient rubble that are still covered in jungle, not yet excavated and restored.
A view of the area surrounding Copán Ruinas.
While we were making dinner that night, a great Mayan miracle happened! A friendly kitten appeared on the roof and started throwing meow-bombs at us from above. We lured it over to a dip in the roof where it could be reached, and then scooped it up and brought it down to hang out with us.
We named it “Meowzer” for obvious reasons and we became the best of friends. Here is a nice picture of Amanda and Meowzer bonding at sunset!
Onward to Guatemala!