Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 20 and 21 - Copan Honduras

At 4 am the collectivo picked me up at my housestay. We arrived in Copan, Honduras around 10:30. Why Copan? The Mayan ruins with their fantastic stone carvings, including hieroglyphics.
In Antigua I had purchased a package that included the collectivo to Copan and back, a hotel room for the night, the entrance fee to the ruins and a bilingual guide. In general, I can do without a guide, but what the hell, it was a package deal.
The collectivo driver’s name was Glen, which I’m sure is an anglicized version of his name. When we arrived in Copan he stopped briefly at his office leaving the four passengers, and myself, in the collectivo. Two young men started banging on the doors of the collectivo. Then they opened the door, which Glen had left unlocked. We didn’t know what to expect. For some reason I felt more curious than frightened. The young men laughed and closed the door. Obviously playing with the stupid touristas. Glen returned and drove to the ruins, dropping off two passengers who I now know didn’t buy a package that included hotel accomodations. He introduced me to a guide named Saul (S - a (as in apple) u (oo) l) then we left the ruins. I was confused, but Glen looked like he had a plan. Next stop a kind of terminal where he dropped off two women who were friends, one from Toronto the other from Winnipeg. As it turned out the end of their journey was several hours away. I was the last passenger on the collectivo. Glen dropped me off at my hotel and told me it was a short walk back to the ruins and that I should meet up with Saul at 11:30.
My one concern at this point, in light of the behaviour of the young men banging on the collectivo was my personal safety, which granted is a major concern. Glen assured me it was safe. I thought I might as well believe him.
But I couldn’t figure out how to get to the ruins. I took a tuk-tuk, that’s what it’s called in Guatemala, but is called a taxi in Honduras. I don’t know what it’s called in Southern Mexico.
The tuk-tuk dropped me off at the ruins, but I couldn’t remember the name of the guide. Fortunately he as looking for me. He told me to pay the entrance fee and we’d begin the tour. Halfway through the tour his cell phone rang. I could tell there was a problem. He was suppose to be giving someone else a tour and was told I didn’t have a guide.
“I don’t want you to be out money, some one has my money for a guide. I’ll pay you, you can give me a receipt, and I’ll find out who has the money,” I tell Saul.
All the while I’m thinking if I’m out $25 American it’s not the end of the world. My guide took his time and was very informative. Other people I’ve spoken to who purchased the package have complained that their guide went too quickly, and I don’t think they knew the entrance fee was for the day, and it didn’t matter that they were rushed by the guide because when the guide had completed his introduction they had the rest of the day to explore.
Saul suggested we meet up later because that would give him time to go home and get his receipt book.
We met at my hotel. He had by now recognized his error in telling me I had to pay the entrance fee, and gave me $15 American dollars, which was the entrance fee. I gave him $480 Lempiras, the Honduran currency, to cover the cost of a guide. He gave me a receipt, and we were even,
I had an evening to kill. He had the time. He escorted me around the small pueblo of Copan introducing me to a few of his friends. About 10:30 pm I went back to my hotel. I liked him and enjoyed his company. I would have liked to spend more time getting to know him but. . .like other Latino men I have met he was too amorous too fast, and I was tired of saying no. It was a sad end to what could have been a beautiful relationship. Oh well!
The six hour ride back was very entertaining. Shane, a born again fundamentalist Christian was my traveling buddy. We had plenty of time to discuss pretty much everything. He’s starting an orphanage in a small Guatemalan village high in the mountains above Lake Atitlan.

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