Across Honduras

08th May 2011

The scenic road linking Nicaragua with Honduras snakes around pine covered hills. The border crossing at Las Manos [1] took us no time at all. We noticed immediately an increased prosperity with better buses, US style shopping malls and gated housing estates. Honduras is the most weaponized country we have seen. Shotgun wielding security guards are everywhere, even outside the ice-cream shops.


We stayed in the Honduras capital, Tegucigalpa [2] just long enough to change buses then headed for the colonial town of Comayagua [3], the former capital from 1537 to 1880. The 800 year old clock on the cathedral is the oldest in the Americas, was built by the Moors for the Palace of Alhambra and donated by the king of Spain in 1620.  The colonial center of Comayagua is being gradually restored; so far the churches have been completed.


The countryside quickly changed from dry pine forest to tropical green where coconuts, bananas, pineapples, coffee are grown. Fresh produce is sold from roadside stalls. Whenever the bus stops, vendors race to the windows, their wares on long poles. In a few hours we were on the Caribbean Coast at Puerto Cortés [4]. We went out to a 40 room beach resort and got an eerie feeling when we were the only guests, like being in a ghost hotel.


Garifuna people live in villages along the coast. They are descendants of West African slaves and Caribbean Indians, brought to Honduras in 1797, known for their dance and music.


Comayagua Cathedral with the oldest clock in the Americas

Iglesia La Merced the first church in Comayagua from 1550

Iglesia San Francisco, 1560

Side door of San Francisco

Iglesia San Sebastian, 1580

Nuestra Señora de la Caridad, the indigenous church

Side door of the church

Fried lake fish on a pole for sale to bus passengers

Fruits stall beside the highway

Fishermen from the Garifuna village of Travesía

Fishing canoe on the Travesía beach

Village church

Village hut

Football at dusk

Get a new gun here at the bus station at San Pedro Sula


Copán Ruinas

09th May 2011

A short walk on a shady footpath from the little cobbled village of Copán Ruinas [5] (a surprisingly un-touristy tranquil pueblo) is the ruins of Copán, one of the most important Mayan cities from 250AD to 900AD. Known as the “Paris of the Mayas” since it is the most enchanting and artistic of all the Mayan sites, it is a World Heritage site for its sculptures and hieroglyphics. Once 30,000 people lived in the valley but due to soil depletion, wars and revolt, the city was abandoned well before the arrival of the Spanish.
The principal site contains temples built around a great plaza, one on top of another. One of the temples, still buried under the present visible one, has been reconstructed in the museum. Large (3 to 5 meters high) stone stelae stand in front of the temples. These are intricately carved statues with the image of the ruler on one or two sides with hieroglyphics on the others, once covered in red. Carved altars used for sacrifice sit in front of the stelae. An acropolis, ball court, and necropolis complete the archaeological site. Large ceiba trees covered in bromeliads tower over temple ruins while their roots twist among the stone blocks of the walls giving the whole site a mysterious air.
Las Sepulturas nearby show residences around courtyards believed to be homes of the rich and powerful. It was connected to the main ceremonial site by a causeway.

Temple 16 has seen many phases

An exact replica of a temple inside the Temple 16 has been constructed in the museum

A stela - a carved statue of the ruler

Another stela

Tomb with stela and sacrificial altar in front

Tree roots help preserve the ruins

Hieroglyphic stairway, protected by a canvas awning

What it would have looked like

Carving of a jaguar

Intricately carved stela

Back of a stela

Bat carving


Colourful macaws, sacred to the Mayans, live at the site

Sacrificial altar

Mayan stepped arch

A smaller temple

Altar in the shape of a turtle

Ball court

The old man of Copán

Altar with grooves to carry away the sacrificed blood

All the stones were carved using stone tool

Altar with the 16 dynastic kings


Two local Mayan descendants rest in the ruins

Elaborate altar

Mayan calendar

Carved monkey


Ceramic figures found in a rulers tomb

Ceramic figures found in a rulers tomb

Ceramic figures found in a rulers tomb

Ceramic figures found in a rulers tomb


Before leaving Honduras we visited the colonial hill towns of Santa Rosa de Copán [6] and Gracias [7]. A scenic road twisting through green countryside links the two. Men dressed in checked shirts, boots and cowboy hats are everywhere.


It is always entertaining travelling on rural buses, they never fill up – there is always room for one more. People get on to sell stuff, like worm medicine (complete with pictures and guaranteed to kill every known intestinal parasite). They make their sales pitch at full volume and at high speed. It goes on and on. People listen, and some actually buy. Ladies will hold someone else´s baby on their lap so they don´t have to give up their seat. Three bums fit in a two bum seat.


We have been enjoying eggs ranchero for breakfast, fried eggs with a spicy tomato sauce served with refried beans, cheese and a corn tortilla, yum. Another favourite is a baleada, a flour tortilla spread with refried beans and a variety of other fillings then folded over, cheap and satisfying. The best meals are from vendors cooking on the plaza and eating with the locals.


Cathedral at Santa Rosa de Copán


Like father, like son

Eggs ranchero


The best food is cooked outside

Iglesia San Marcos at Gracias

Iglesia Las Mercedes at Gracias - remains of colored sawdust from Semana Santa on the path

Cobbled street at night