The whole point of dragging Harper down here was to travel around the country for a bit before I started working. Honduras is about the size of Tennessee, and we wanted to see as much as possible, but we narrowed it down to two main destinations: Lake Yojoa and the Copan Ruins.
Our first stop was a D & D Brewery, located near Lake Yojoa. Memo and Esmerelda were worried about us, so their son, Guillermo, offered to drive us. I hated to put him to the trouble, but we arrived safely in about an hour and a half. I immediately fell in love with the place. It’s not far from a small, touristy, town, but it’s nestled off the road in a dense patch of jungle. Our private room with 2 beds and a private bath only cost $15 per night. As the name implies, they brew their own beer – 5 varieties – on site. I confess I was elated to find Blue Moon there and none of their brews swayed me. Every meal we had there was a little piece of heaven.
Our first adventure was climbing to the peak of Las Nalgas, a mountain overlooking Lake Yojoa. Nalgas means butt cheeks in Spanish. Along the way our guide, Freddy, showed us a lot of the local crops such as corn, coffee, cocoa, and a variety of fruit growing wild along the way.
In the evening we got to know some of our fellow travelers, Sophie and Daisy, from England, and Mike and Justin, from Michigan. One of the best parts of backpacking trips is meeting and swapping stories with fellow travelers. We had a lovely time sitting around the fire pit chatting, until they actually built a fire and I had to move away from the searing heat.
The next day, Mike and Justin (father and son) had hired car, driven by Luis, and guide, Walter, to take us to the Pulhapanzak Falls. We were supposed to climb behind the falls, but because it rained so much the night before they said we needed to wait an hour to see if the water slowed down any. From above, the falls were gorgeous and that would have been enough. They finally let us go on the tour behind the falls. Harper very accurately described it as terrifying. The trail down to the river was no big deal. Since the water was high, part of the trail was covered, but it wasn’t hard to pick our way along the rocky trail leading closer to the falls. Then the guide, Luis (not our driver Luis), showed us where we needed to jump off a boulder into a pool and swim across 3 meters or so, taking care not to get swept into the main river. After that, we had to climb out, climb around some more rocks, then back into the water to the base of the falls, where we used a slippery cable to help climb to a ledge behind the falls. Simple, right? Well not with the water coming down with so much force that even though we were only getting hit with the water that splashed off the rocks, the noise was deafening and you couldn’t see a thing. I can’t remember the last time I was that frightened. I loved it!
We only planned to do the falls, but Walter decided we needed to go to the Taulabe Caves, so we did. We arrived at closing time, but they were friends of Walter, so we got in and had the caves all to ourselves. They were quite extensive and lovely, being lit up with different colored lights. These caves were discovered around 1969 during road construction. Only about 400 yards are developed and lit, but they have been explored much further. No end has been found. They could go all the way to the lake. We did the developed tour, but there is also an “extreme” tour that goes back much further through tighter openings. We were debating whether or not to do that one, but since we arrived so late it wasn’t an option anyway. Even though Luis grew up in the area, it was his first time visiting the caves and he was absolutely delighted.
Next, Walter wanted to show us a view of the lake from a nearby hotel. It was magnificent, even better than the view from Las Nalgas. Then we went to a local seafood restaurant to enjoy talapia caught fresh from the lake.
Leaving D & D was hard, but we left the next morning and headed to the Copan Ruins. Even though the roads are not bad, bus trips take forever, because they stop all along the way to pick up and let off passengers. Still, we arrived in about 4 hours, and checked into the Hotel Berakah, a recommendation of Walter’s. It was nice, right on the edge of the town, Ruinas Copan. We ate dinner at the restaurant right across the street, and walked around the town. They have a lively square surrounded by lots of restaurants. They have a craft market along one of the side streets.
The next morning after breakfast we hiked to the Copan Ruins. This is the most significant archaeological site in Honduras. We arrived right as they were feeding the macaws, so we were greeted by dozens of the giant colorful birds. The Mayan temples, altars and great pyramid were amazing. If I’m not mistaken, these ruins are have the most extensive hieroglyphics in Central America. After lunch we went on a horseback ride up into the mountains. Our guide, Oscar, took us to some lesser known ruins called Las Ruinas del Sapo (the frog ruins). This small area has not been excavated at all. The ruins were exposed by rain. However it is believed that this was a hospital. You can see a frog, which represents human fertility. You can also see a crocodile which represents agricultural fertility. Oscar showed us how the two carvings were arranged so that a woman giving birth would sit between the two. There was also an altar where every 10th baby born was sacrificed to the gods. Horrible, but fascinating.
Today we made the long ride back to Comayagua. The bus system seems chaotic at a glance, but it actually runs like a well-oiled machine. When we reached La Entrada, I was WAY more interested in los baños than the next leg of our journey. One guy actually came up to the bathrooms (across the parking lot from the bus), and made sure we followed him back to the right bus.
I’ve heard so many negative things about Honduras that I was a little apprehensive about this trip. Not once did we feel unsafe. Yeah, there were some creepy people we avoided, but we have our share of those at home. Overall, we felt welcomed and looked after everywhere we went. It was a wonderful trip and I’m so happy that Harper was here to share the experience.