Copan




We looked at the hotel breakfast and quickly decided to try somewhere else. The most common breakfast here seems to be refried beans, eggs and hard cheese. Overall it is a very healthy breakfast, but neither Hilary or I wanted to spend the day with each other after a plate of beans in the morning. We found a nice little restaurant that served a “Breakfast Americano” and had real !!!bacon!!! with our eggs. I even tried Honduran coffee for the first time since I’ve arrived. It was not bad. The kids had opted to stay watching TV in the hotel, so we brought them back some pancakes and they ate in the hotel courtyard.

We caught a little golf cart taxi to the ruins. The tacxis here cost 10 Lempiras per person to go any where in Copan. (In Comayagua they are 15 per person because it is a bigger city). We got to the ruins and went to the desk to pay. The third world came crashing back down on us. Here it cost nearly $40 per person and they didn’t take Visa. I rummaged around in my purse and gave them almost every Lempira I had to pay for the ticket. I have set up my bank card so that I can only get out $100 per day which is more than enough … normally. Here’s the twist, the guides take visa, but the museum doesn’t. Stupiid stupid stupid…gaaaa. We saw a lot of people in the lineup to buy tickets holding visa cards. Just another day in Paradise.

The ruins were quite spectacular as far as ruins go. We were allowed to climb one of the pyramids. The kids went free and I joined one of the tours in progress. Ciaran stayed with me for a while, but the guy was a little dry, and Ciaran left to explore. We went all around the ruins which were quite extensive and even into the tunnels. These are excavation tunnels which have been dug under the ruins to excavate the many layers beneath the existing ones. Apparently there are 4 layers of buildings under the ones we can see.
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We went to the museum after. They have a full size reconstruction of one of the buildings and it is painted so you can see what it would have looked like at the time. There was a class of older high-school or university students there drawing, and Aodhan sat down and joined them for their drawing class. The rest of us went and had lunch. He stayed there drawing for over an hour. We tried to catch a taxi back to town, but there were none out at the ruins. We saw one and yelled for him, but he already had a passenger and he didn’t stop. A pick up truck full of guys did though, and they all got out and climbed in the back and told us they would drive us. The kids climbed in the back with the guys and Hilary and I climbed in. They drove us back into town and we tried to give them some money, but they wouldn’t take it, so I gave them the Canada pin off my hat.

Everything is getting so normal here for me. Here we are in the middle of Honduras – no, not quite right, at the edge of the Honduras, 12 km from the Guatemalan boarder, climbing in a pick-up truck with half a dozen guys, letting the kids climb in the back and sit outside while we drove down a major highway (well a Honduran major highway – ok a mostly, except where it has been washed out, paved 2 lane road with lots of potholes)?? And I don’t find this strange or unusual any more?? Seatbelts anyone? It is a different world, and a different education.

We were supposed to meet out trail riding guy at 4pm and when we got back he was there. I had to get money out of the bank since the major archeological site had stolen all of our cash – still annoyed at that one. There were two bank machines in town. I knew the Atlantida wouldn’t work – it never does for my card, so I tried Bamer – I’ve had good success with them. Well, it spat my card out and said it couldn’t find a pin number for it before I had even entered one. It didn’t like me. I tried Atlantida and of course it gave me the same “invalid transaction” message that I get in Comayagua. I panicked. Here we were 8 hours from Comayagua with no cash for the weekend. I tried to get a cash advance from my visa, just to find out ai needed pin number for that which I don’t have. Great. We would have to sit by the pool and rot. I called Greg and got an answering machine. I left a message for him to call me back. I glanced over at the little boy carrying a huge bag of produce over to his family’s stall, and I felt uneasy with myself. Here I am worried about having to sit by a pool all day, and sleep in the nicest hotel in Copan and eat only in restaurants that take Visa, and I’m panicking. What a load of crap. I tried my bank card again in the Bamer machine – it’s always worked for me in Comayagua. I put the card in and … pulled it out – hey pull it out again, don’t just leave it in, and hey it worked! I was just using the machine wrong!! I got out 1500 Lempiras and we went off to horseback.

We got on the four horses and went along a road out of town and across the river and along and up into the mountains.

Comments

hilary slater said…
I”ve just returned from Honduras. From Comayagua actually. I’m feeling awfully guilty today. I feel guilty to Elaine, who is still there for 2 more months, and I”ve left her with the struggle of teaching unruly teens, and without the luxuries of Toronto.
I took my morning shower, and felt guilty that I didn’t get electrocuted as I stood up full height under the shower nozel. I felt guilty that my water came out in strong jets of hot delicious current. I felt guilty that my hair was clean in a number of seconds, but that I could choose to stay under the water for another 20 or 30 minutes, and it would still be hot and delicious.
I felt guilty drying my hair with my hair dryer, and it dried smooth and shiny, not fuzzy and dried out.

I felt guilty brushing my teeth with water from the tap, without having to go to the kitchen fridge to find a bag of water to wash the toothpaste off;
And guilty that I got to flush my toilet paper down the toilet, not put it in the garbage can beside me with the other festering pieces of used tissue percolating in the heat.
( Countries where earthquakes are common have a problem with in-ground plumbing pipes being cracked; paper would gather around the cracks and cause clogs, so flushing of paper is forbidden.)
Later I washed my clothes in the washing machine, and felt guilt for that too. I didn’t have to stomp my clothes clean in the (cold) shower, using my (used) shampoo as soap.

And I felt guilty at all the space I have in my house to hang my clean clothes up to dry, and felt guilty at the confidence I have in knowing that they will dry before morning, (and before the torrential rains of the rainy season begin).
I felt guilty that my clothes would dry clean when I hung them up, not covered in black dust from the exhaust fumes of vehicles not equipped with catalytic converters or unleaded gas.

I felt guilty that I had only one ant on my bed this morning when I woke up, and it was easy to eradicate.

I felt guilty that I could wake up at 9am, ( or later!), not 4am with the dogs and roosters and tropical birds and the roofers who begin hammering at 5am and work til sun-down.
I felt guilty that I only have my one son to deal with, and not 100 hormonally over-wrought and hyper teens, all vying for my attention.

I felt guilty that I have only my laundry and vacuuming to do, and no piles of incessant marking for students who only glance at the final grade and show no interest in learning from the grammar and spelling corrections so carefully clarified.

I felt guilty for a lot of things.

But then, as my day progressed, I looked outside at the not-yet-green garden, and the streets with some pockets of snow still melting.
I looked at the grey city high-rises in the distance, and yearned for the ever-changing colours of the volcanic mountains.
I looked at the asphalt street, and missed the little single-lane sidewalks, and the colourful tiny shacks along the roadsides.
I walked to Johnnie G’s and had my Saturday $5 bacon and eggs (without Elaine) but thought about my 2- huge tail lobster dinner which cost the same price in Comayagua.

I walked down Parliament Street and thought about calling a friend…but she’s still there, and I’m back here.
And I shivered in the cool spring breeze, and thought about the summer heat, and of how Elaine has forgotten what snow feels like, and needs a blanket at night, even though its 30 degrees.
As I walked through St.Jamestown this afternoon, I heard Spanish being spoken, and wanted to walk over and join in the conversation. I noticed the many colours of people there, and felt more at home, away from the whiteness of my neighbourhood.

I thought about Aodhan and his laughter when he draws something funny, and of Ciaran and how he carries the responsibility of “the man of the house” with his dad not there to take on that role.

And I thought of the fact that I’m here and I’m still needed there. I only just began to help Elaine with her teaching; in fact I’m not even sure I was any help at all. One week was too fast, so many kids, so many teaching issues, no equipment, no discipline at the office. And my Spanish, minimal though it is, was useful. We could explain ourselves, talk to people, make friends.

And the hill people, I miss the hill people. They are poor, have nothing but a mud hut and a firepit to burn wood for cooking. They need so much to be able to survive, and yet they are so happy. I could see tiredness in their eyes, weary with worry and questions about the future, but they were so strong. Their family ties were gold, unbreakable, and they had weathered much together.
We were friends by the end of our one evening of communcating together. We were all mothers, and our children were the common bond. There was deep respect for each other, and an understanding that we each had our life concerns.
Elaine was at her best that night; glowing with pleasure at having found the real reason why she had come to this country. She needs to be needed, to feel useful, and these people had so many needs, she could give to the ends of her generosity and they would be grateful and would benefit from her giving. Me being able to put words to her smiles of friendship felt valuable too. They were able to understand why we were in Honduras, what life was like for us in Canada, and that friendship made life so much more valuable.

I thought about Honduras. About the amazing ruins at Copan, the parrots, and gardens, and horse riding and zip line canopy tour. I thought about the Riots in the streets of Tegucigalpa as I was leaving, (where the people were walking in groups like it was a peaceful parade, but the police were out in throngs of riot squads, blocking the side streets and controlling the traffic, just to show their power) I thought about taking the photos of the police with rifles, and how they flirted with me, a blond western woman, as if their rifles were plastic guns.

And deep down there is a longing. Actually not so deep down. There is a yearning to feel useful again, to know I am where I belong, to know that what I am doing is of great value to the people I am meeting. Maybe Elaine’s there for the teens who are busy making waves of trouble to get noticed; maybe for the mothers who still need nurturing themselves; maybe for the poor children who must fend for themselves at such a young age.
But here I am, back in Toronto now; Home sweet home, and a laptop full of photographs.

I have to find a niche here where I can do as much good as Elaine is doing, not so far south of here; South of here with no hot water, lots of ants, volcanoes galore, her sons, her students, and her hand-washed laundry.
Hurry home Elaine! ☺
(have to figure out how to post photos! :-)

xoxo
Hil
hilary slater said…
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