It’s hard to explain Copan Ruinas. There is an amazing site showcasing Mayan ruins here, which is what attracts tourists. There is a thriving expat community here, all leaving/escaping something and finding a new start here.
The town is charming and set in a bit of a tropical paradise, yet there is such a strong separation between the locals and the expats/tourists. The restaurants and bars for the expats and tourists, as far as I saw, are never visited by local Hondurans. It’s just way too expensive. And I’ve seen this in other places, but I think this town is so small you can’t help but see the segregation.
After my robbery incident in Guatemala City, I was happy that this place is much safer. San Andres Itzapa, where I volunteered at Maya Pedal in Guatemala, felt as safe as any town in Central American can feel. Here in Copan Ruinas, there aren’t armed guards outside stores like in Guatemala City, but there are armed guards outside the banks. Delivery trucks have armed men that guard each delivery.
While I was here I heard gun shots one night and found out later that two men (one 40, one 20-something) had been killed. Apparently it was a bar fight that turned deadly.
If I ran into trouble and the police showed up in this, I don’t think it’d be much of a relief to see them. But they do have cars and trucks too, not to paint an overly simplistic picture!
There are a lot of foreigners here. It’s partly due to the attractions of the ruins and Macaw Mountain Bird Park, but there are also Spanish language schools here. There’s the expat community, each with his or her story of why they left and what they are doing here. It’s a bit weird and makes this already small town WAY too small if you are one of them.
Yes, the ruins are important. There will be a post in the future about them once I leave Honduras. You’ll understand why I have to wait to talk about it until after I leave Honduras (so once I get to Nicaragua, actually, since I have to pass through Honduras to get from El Salvador to Nicaragua).
One of my favorite things about traveling is, of course, the food. And there was a special lady here who made both me and my stomach happy here. Her name is Doris and you can see her here. Her restaurant/living room was just across the street from where I was living/volunteering.
I got my coffee from her every morning, and at 5L/$0.23 per cup, it was totally worth the short journey – so was trying to explain in Spanish what the cup she always gave me says (No one around here plays with a full deck of cards).
But for breakfast and lunch she serves baleadas for 12L/$0.63. Wow. First, the tortillas are made by hand. I would eat these by themselves. They remind me of Pakistani/Indian tandoori roti in the way they smell and taste (like heaven). Then eggs, beans, and cheese are stuffed inside. Given my lactose intolerance, I skipped on the cheese. But the plate below tells the whole story. Relative to the size of my eyes, I’d say my smile while eating baleadas is pretty much this big!
Doris is a personality and we had fun. I call her my Honduran mom, or Hondumama. Deborah, the founder of El Camino a la Superacion and my host during my time here, had an industrial stove that she wasn’t using. She let Doris take it and her productivity has skyrocketed. She was so happy! And less time waiting for baleadas for lunch made me happy too!
There is good food in Honduras besides Doris’s. Below are some dishes I had.
Daily life while I was here was quite difficult. There was extreme rain attributed to the rainy season and hurricanes/tropical storms. It affected all of Central America and dozens of people died, roads were washed away by mudslides, and basic electricity and water services were heavily affected.
I’d say about half the time I was here there was no electricity or water. But for more on that, check out the post on How Expensive It Is To Be Poor.
Volunteering at El Camino a la Superacion
Volunteering with Deborah at El Camino a la Superacion was great. You can read more about that in this post.
The atmosphere was great though. It was way more chaotic than I expected it to be, but it was chaotic in a good way. Things are continually getting better and Deborah is always looking for new opportunities.
Now, off to El Salvador to volunter with http://comencemos.org.
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About Adam Pervez
In mid-2011 I left my cushy corporate job and took the plunge into a life incorporating my passions of traveling, writing, volunteering, learning, educating, and telling stories. I study what happiness means to others, offer what I can from my engineering/MBA background as a volunteer, and try to leave each place better than how I found it. Read more.