We're back!! And it's time for Mayan Ruins!

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
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Trip End Sep 03, 2008


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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Leaving Roatan I felt a bit sad, like it was the end of something very special. Partly because it was truly paradise and almost the only place on this adventure where we could completely relax and not worry about everything that comes with doing a trip like this on a motorcycle. To be honest it has been really hard for Jess to stop thinking about the next destination (throughout this trip) because he is always planning ahead calculating risks and preparing for how to avoid them. However I would like to think that we are going back there one day so it is with that mindset I am leaving beautiful Roatan.
 
So today our final destination is Copan, Honduras and it is the beginning of our "ruin tour" of Central America. This is supposedly a quaint little town almost on the border of Guatemala. We took the 7am ferry from Roatan to La Ceiba...and it was nothing like the afternoon ferry we took to get to the island! Yes, I was very thankful...this was smooth sailing all the way! No one was throwing up anywhere and that is always a plus in my book. 
 
We have been spoiled for the past week with no rain in sight but that was about to change as we got closer to Copan. We found ourselves in a thunderstorm as we were entering the town and we found a hotel quickly. The town itself is cuter than I expected, it reminded me of Italy and those tiny villages that look as if they were built into the mountain. Copan is surrounded by high mountains and has steep cobble-stoned streets,  there are donkeys and horses everywhere on the roads mixed in with modern restaurants and internet cafes.
 
In the morning we walked over to the site of the ruins, which were a mile outside of town. I have never been to any types of ruins before I so was excited and the place did not disappoint. We walked into the main plaza where most of the ruins and the stelas are located and I loved it. It is so amazing to think about the Mayan societies that ruled these areas as early as 600 AD. In this particular area the power and success of the Mayans were also their downfall. The population grew so fast that they overused the land and in the end they were not able to sustain their way of living. At the time they reached about 20,000 people living in this valley, which was a number that was not reached again until the 1980's.  
 
Hey it's Jess, and we're back on the road!  Roatan was awesome, but it's time to fire up the Jolly Jungle Jumper (the bike) and continue the journey!  The ancient Mayan ruins are beckoning us, and I can't wait to be Indiana Jones (Malin could be that hot chick from Tomb Raider), straddling our adventure steed, riding through mucky jungle roads and negotiating our way through the hanging vines.  If we're lucky, perhaps we'll even befriend a monkey along the way that could ride on Malin's lap?  I have it all planned out, and it's going to kick ass!
 
The ferry ride over from Roatan to La Cieba was boring...no Barf Olympics or anything else to keep us entertained, but the bike reached the mainland safely (it took 4 deckhands to guide the beast down the gangplank) and away we went!  With our laptop out of action, and therefore our GPS unit as well, we're basically flying blind, except for one AAA map that had all of Central America on it!  Needless to say it wasn't very detailed, but we meandered our way through the city streets of San Pedro Sula and eventually discovered the right road to lead us to Copan Ruins. 
 
The landscape immediately became mountainous and I could imagine all of the Mayans inhabiting the hillsides and building their temples, thriving for thousands of years before enduring a steady decline, and ultimately becoming a "lost civilization." As Malin mentioned above, their success was their downfall.  They did not manage their resources and growth properly and eventually they had outgrown their environs and could no longer sustain themselves. Hmmm...do you think there's any relevance to mankind's plight in today's world?  Ya think!?
 
Well, the town of Copan is great, but I failed to befriend a monkey.  In fact, there were no monkeys at all to speak of, and the thought of "let's blow this taco stand" flashed through my mind, but I utilized two seconds of patience and it was obvious that this was a really cool village and that we were going to have a great time.
 
Before we could even settle into our exquisite budget accommodations, the sky opened up and unleashed a barrage of rain, which believe it or not, was a refreshing change after a week of nothing but beautiful sunshine in Roatan.
 
We found a cool bar and ordered up a couple of Salva Vida beers and watched the cobblestone street outside turn into a raging river.  Then, a huge crack of lightning and the power went out!...shocker, right?  - now we sipped our beers by candle light and listened to the music of the rain roaring down on the tin roof.  You know, it's kinda weird when in the present moment, you are acutely aware that you're making a memory that will be with you forever.  Very cool.
 
The next day we set out for the 20 minute walk to the ruins, and although there were large macaws squawking near the entrance, there were no monkeys, very few hanging vines, and nothing that resembled the Lost Ark of the Covenant.  In fact, the area around the ruins resembled a manicured football pitch much more than the grimy confines of the Temple of Doom, but it was interesting hiking around and imagining how the Maya lived.
 
After a few hours of intense archeology, we headed back to the village for a late lunch and noticed a bunch of guys erecting a small movie screen in a cordoned off section of a cobblestone street.  It just happened to be a World Cup Soccer qualifying match between Honduras and Mexico!  Awesome!  We returned later and watched the game with all of the locals, who went absolutely berserk when Honduras went up 1-0 in the first half.  Mexico eventually came back to win 2-1 in the final seconds of the game, but what a cool experience!
 
Next stop - Tikal ruins in Guatemala!  But there's 300 miles of questionable terrain and another formidable border crossing between us and our next opportunity to discover the Lost Ark, fight the bad guys, and return rich and victorious to the USA.
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Comments

johnnyblackpint
johnnyblackpint on

A Welcome Surprise
Wow! More travelblogs! Regarding: 'it's kinda weird when in the present moment, you are acutely aware that you're making a memory that will be with you forever.' Yeah, I know what you mean. And when you take yourself outside the moment for a split second to become aware of that fact, before returning to the moment, it becomes a touchstone to revisit later. It's great to savor them, and bittersweet as well. However, there are many more sweet momernts to come!

nancylmckinley
nancylmckinley on

Finally! Another installment to savor!
Another great story and photos. I've been missing my daily dose of excitement and beautiful scenery shots.
It's amazing to see the huge ruins and try to imagine the culture of people living as they did so long ago. I'm glad you included a replica of what the temple looked like in their present time. The carvings on the stelas are so intricate and beautiful. Looking forward to the next
adventure starting in the morning...Yaaaa!
Love,
Mom

fogmonger
fogmonger on

... any news?
Any news since August?? It seems a bit ominous that the posts were so regular until August and then suddenly stopped in the middle of the trip...

George on

Thank you for sharing your adventure this fellow californian got to enjoy the trip through your eyes !! I hope you had a safe returns....the story kinda ended. Thank you again !!

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