I was enticed right away by a weekend trip option posted at my Spanish school in Antigua. It was a two day trip to Copan Ruins, Honduras, which is just over the border from Guatemala. There was only one other student from the school who signed up, but the trip needed 4 to be a go. The other person interested was Cathryn from London who, like me, wanted to add another country to her list, but also to see the Mayan ruins.
Luckily the option was posted again for the following weekend and got even better as it included stops at “agua termales” and Macaw Mountain. Cathryn and I were the only two students interested again, but this time we were persistent and got the tour agent to do a tour package just for the two of us. We took off on Friday at 12:30 on a shuttle van that luckily only ended up being half full as we did not get to Copan Ruins (the full name of the town) until around 7:30. The immigration stop at the border involved going into a building and standing in one line to get the exit stamp for Guatemala then walking over to the next line to pay the $3 USD to get into Honduras.
We knew that to get the good price for the tour package we would be in a basic hotel in Copan. Although this place took it down a few notches. I do like it when beds are flat, and it is nice if a pillow is thick enough to actually notice it is there when you lay your head on it. However, since we had arrived after dark (usually a travel no no but unavoidable at times) and since it was part of a package we stuck it out for two nights. The place did look better in the morning light, but the pillows did not get any thicker. The second night I used my inflatable travel pillow (a travel must have), and the whole experience brought into focus that I have a thing about pillows!
The next morning we were off to the hot springs via a tuktuk. When we had booked the tour the agent had tried to talk us into a more expensive option by describing how bumpy and curvy the drive would be in a tuktuk. He didn’t succeed in the upsale, and our journey that morning was absolutely enjoyable. It was nice to feel the wind as we went along. The road was relatively smooth and with little traffic. The landscape kept our interest with coffee plants, banana trees and much more. Several times we caught the smell of the start of the processing coffee beans which involves soaking the beans in water to remove the husks. That part actually was not pleasant; it smells like natural fertilizer.
We arrived at the Luna Jaguar Spa Resort which was an amazing surprise as it was much more than it had been billed as. Cathryn described it as a spa meets mini golf! There were 13 stations marked with Mayan numbers nestled on the hill side across a river. They did a wonderful job of incorporating the spa into the landscape. We moved from a pool where we covered ourselves in mud, to a cooler pool, to another that was warmer, to a steam room, to a waterfall massage . . . . It was fantastic and the only low point was that by the time we got done we were famished. Next time I will bring a snack. In addition we were the only people there until the a few others showed up in the afternoon (right as we were showering in the outdoor showers as it turned out.)
It was late in the afternoon when we left so we thought we would skip the next attraction, Macaw Mountain, a rescue center for birds, as we’d only have 30-40 minutes before it closed. Luckily our driver didn’t let us skip it as the moment of having a bird on my head was worth the price of admission.
The next morning our guide, Julio, met us at the hotel, and we took off in another tuktuk to the ruins. The fist sight was the flock of Macaws that now live in the area of the ruins thanks to the rescue center.
The ruins were amazing, but I’m going to hold off on talking about them for now as I’m on my way to Tikal, Mayan ruins in Guatemala, in a few days so will get to do a comparison.
(Approaching the boarder.)
(Our ride for the day – the “Green Hornet” – and Manual, our driver.)
(The road to the thermal springs was surprisingly pleasant.)
(Waterfall massage! In Mayan numbering a dot represents one and a bar, like above, is five. It was neat to see the same system the next day at the ruins.)
(Enjoying the warmth.)
(A sauna created by building a platform over the hot water with holes for the steam to come up.)
(The bridge over the river shouldn’t dissuade anyone from going to the spa.)
(This is Buffy and JLo, both had previously been pets. Macaws have no outward signs of their sex so after a DNA test at the center, it was decided JLo stands for John Lopez.)
(It actually does not hurt to have a bird on your head or your arm!)
(We had dinner with a couple from Italy we had met in the shuttle the day before. Cathryn speaks Italian, and they understood a few of my comments in Spanish.)