64. Copan, Honduras - The Copan Mayan Ruins

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June 22, 2007

We almost “choked in our coffee” when the ticket booth attendant told us how much it would cost to visit the Copan Ruins.

The entrance fee was $15, plus it would cost another $12 to go into the archaeological tunnels and a further $15 to visit the on-site museum.

Maybe our reaction shows how skewed our financial thinking had become after four months of budget road tripping in Mexico and Central America.

But then again Honduras seemed to be a relatively inexpensive country. Our room at the comfortable Los Lauros Hotel in the centre of Copan was only $17 a night, and we had picked up a bottle of decent Chilean wine at the nearby duty free store for $3.

Moreover, the Chichen Itza ruins on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula – which attract the well-heeled Cancun vacation crowd and are the glitziest ruins we had seen to date - only cost $9.50 each. The stunning Palenque ruins in Chiapas, had cost $2 person.

This petty gripping aside, the Copan Ruins, located a 5-minute drive from the center of town, are well worth visiting.

And for us, they were the last of the "Big 3" Mayan ruins that we wanted to get to, the others being Palenque and Guatemala’s Tikal.

And while the Copan ruins do not compare in scale to those two, they are unique because of their bounty of well-preserved stelae, or highly detailed stone sculptures.

We weren't expecting much from the town of Copan other than its proximity to the ruins.

But it turned out to be a highly seductive Central American destination.

(So much so, that we came close to booking a weeks worth of private, fair trade Spanish lessons with the highly recommended Nelly de Espinoza, before we decided we needed to move on).

Set in a forested valley at high elevation, it offers a busy parque central, brown shaded cobblestone streets, tough looking cowboys in tall white hats loitering on the sidewalks, and several good quality restaurants, including Jim’s Pizza, which serves the best pizza we have had yet on the trip.

And the seductive felling gets turned up a notch when it rains in the late afternoon/early evening, as the town takes on a dark, brooding, smoky feeling, reminding me of a Halloween night at home in Vancouver.

Key Facts & Figures:

-Los Lauros Hotel: $17/night
-Copan Ruins: $15/person
-Jim's Pizza dinner: $10