After lunch at Churrasqueria Mom's on the day of arrival in Copan Ruinas, the Missus decided that She just HAD to see Los Sapos ("The Toads"),an ancient site of rock carvings where women gave birth. Toads were a fertility symbol, and there are supposedly carvings of toads. I say supposedly, because after walking 8 kilometers in the hot mid-day sun, with the locals staring at the crazy tourists who were actually walking the hot, dusty trail of their own free will, uphill to Hacienda San Lucas,and paying admission, when we walked the trail to Los Sapos, the packs of dogs lying around the ruins spooked the Missus. Here's the photo of Los Sapos, you can see a few of the dogs in the right hand side of the photo:
Which meant we turned around and headed back the way we came. Boy did I need a nap in the air conditioned comfort for our room. After a short nap, and about ten liters of water, I awoke feeling much better. Before dinner we headed off to the Museo Regional de Arqueología Maya, located at the West end of Parque Central.
The museum is small, but in our opinion well worth visiting, as it laid a nice foundation for us before our visit to the Ruins.
There are a few very interesting pieces in the museum, of special interest are some of the original altars from the Ruins.
Of particular interest are the beautifully carved " eccentric flints". We were told that the flints were used for ceremonial bloodletting. I readily admit there's a hidden fourteen year old inside of me whose undivided attention can be bought with the simple mention of blood letting and human sacrifice.......
If I recall, admission is $2/US.
Of course all of the bloodletting and altars got me pretty hungry. One thing good about the town of Copan Ruinas is that it is small and easy to get from place to placer. We started walking around looking for something to eat. Places like Comedor Mary are pretty well known in the guidebooks, but we were uninspired by the menu of Hamburguesa and pupusas, and places like Jim's Pizza just would not do. Finally, on the same street as the very popular Carnitas Nia Lola, we saw this doorway.
Among the usual suspects were some interesting dishes that we hadn't seen on any of the other menus in Copan Ruinas. None of the dishes exceeded 100 Lempiras (at the time of our visit it was 18.5 Lempiras to a dollar US).
We walked down the green hallway.....
And stepped into the dining room we surprising a family..... two young woman, a boyfriend, and the girl's mother, watching a soap opera on television. Take my word for it, I can recognize a soap opera in any language instantly. Other than that the dining room was totally empty......
Smiles all around, we were led to our table. And though the bargain basement Christmas garland, and the carved wooden lobsters and crabs (Copan Ruinas is nowhere near the ocean) gave me a slight pause, we both felt that we had made a good choice. We ended up placing our order, to the glee of the older woman, who marched into the kitchen. Suddenly, we could hear the clang of pots and pans, chopping, and a noise of a blender, as if an army of cooks were at work! It was an amazing din! All for us, two customers.....
Being used to how things went by now, we knew that this would take a while, and not in a bad way. To the contrary, we were somewhat comforted that there was a decision, at least in our case, to do it right. If the dish would take an hour to prepare correctly, by God they'd take an hour! All the better to have a beer....
And maybe take the time out to read the label on the various sauces provided.
Luckily, I recalled one of the few words I had learned... "encurtido". And this time, the young lady could understand my mumblings. And soon a huge container of pickled veggies made its way to our table.
Man was this good! This was the best encurtido we had on this trip. The veggies were crisp, with a nice balance of salty, sweet, and sour. Secondly, there was a good variety of peppers, onions, carrots, and even pacaya in the encurtido.
Eventually, our dishes made their way to the table. I had ordered the Carne Mechada.
Along with the routine green salad and the three headed carb attack (papas fritas, tortillas, and rice), the beef was a pretty hefty sized slice of what appeared to be flank steak sauteed in a tangy tomato and oregano based sauce. The beef was on the chewy side, but not unpleasantly so, and this was not short on flavor.
The Missus ordered what turned out to be possibly the best dish of our trip; Pollo en Semilla de Ayote:
It was the sauce that made this a really good dish, a complex combination of nutty, tangy, and herbaceous flavors. It was a simply fricasseed chicken thigh wrapped in a wonderful sauce. I believe that this was what all the commotion in the kitchen was about.
The Missus also wanted to order the Pacaya Capeada, since Pacaya was in season. Pacaya is the male inflorescense of the Chamaedorea tepejilote a species of palm.
Egg battered, and smothered in a tomato based sauce, we've had a similar dish before. This was very much like that dishr. The only difference was that the Pacaya was less bitter, and much more tender. I'm thinking that the version I had in San Diego was made with bottled pacaya.
With homey service, and food well worth the wait, and whether it was the privacy, or whatever, this was the meal we remember the most most on our trip. And there was one more thing we'll remember. You have to understand that in many places in Honduras, the plumbing system is not up to Western standards. That would mean that you don't flush the toilet paper, you discard it in the trash can next to the commode. Unfortunately, the water closet, and it was, a closet that had no ventilation....I don't think I need to say anything more. Plus the, toilet didn't work, so you had to grab a bucket from the sink outside the closet and use gravity. After returning to our table, the Missus said She needed to go to the commode. I tried to convince Her otherwise, but failed. The Missus walked up to the restroom, opened the door, and recoiled as if someone smacked Her. I warned Her........
Water closet notwithstanding, that Pollo en Semilla de Ayote was a heck of dish!
For those who read this to the end, I thank you for hanging in there!