After a futile attempt to visit the ruinas at Copan Ruins, Honduras which essentially consisted of walking around for 2 hours circling the town of Copan Ruins we decided to visit the spa at Jaguar. Our hostel Via Via arranged a shuttle departing at 1:00 p.m. to return by 7:00 p.m. for $22 per person. This included transportation and entrance to the hot spring spa. There are cheaper ways to get there, such as standing near the center park and waiting for a truck heading that way. However, after experiencing the drive we are so glad we took the shuttle. Basically, you drive for about 15 minutes on cobblestone roads before veering off the main road and up a dirt, pothole ridden, cliff hugging road for 45 minutes. Getting used to bumpy shuttles!
Despite the bumpy drive visiting the jagua hot springs was one of the highlights of our three days in Copan Ruins. The place is stunning. Back at home, a place like this would cost well over $100 to visit.
There are about 10 different small pools fed by the hot spring river that flows through. The pools vary in temperature from one that was too hot to even dip a toe in to an ice old pool and fountain.
One of the pools was a mud bath pool. Next to the warm pool, there is a pot of clay-like mud that you smear all over yourself.
When we arrived we had the place almost entirely to ourselves except for one creepy dude who had ridden along in the shuttle. He is a local and is friends with the driver. Like many of the men here in Guatemala he was not shy in expressing his interest by just outright staring. Later, a small band of teenagers arrived. None of the girls wore bathing suits, choosing instead to dip in the pools wearing shorts and t-shirts. We understood a little better, then, why creepy dude was staring. The culture here is much more modest than in the U.S. When we had our fill of the hot spring pools we crossed over the bridge and went down by the cold river into which the hot springs flow.
The river is not wide or deep, but the current is crazy strong. It took me about ten minutes to cross over to the hot spring waterfall.
Just to the left of the waterfall, behind the rocks, is a pool which is free to access. It is a spot where many local people bring their toiletries and bathe. We also discovered (thanks to the locals) a much easier way to cross the river! Downstream about 50 feet there is a log across the river with a wire to hold onto as you cross. On the other side a path weaves into the jungle a short distance and comes back down right at the waterfall and bath pool. Not wanting to come upon naked Guatemalans who would likely take offense, we did not cross the log bridge.
Closer to the main lodge area are two larger (and apparently, free) pools. In one pool only women were swimming and in the other, only men. We thought perhaps it was a custom of some sort to have segregated pools. Of course, I had to find out. We all practiced what I was going to say and I then went and asked: “Una pregunta, por favor?” (a question, please) to the friendliest looking woman. She gave me a smile and an “Esta bien” (It’s okay). Phew, because we kind of felt like they had been staring at us somewhat unfriendly earlier. In my best caveman espanol I said “Por que solomente mujeres en este piscina y solamente hombres ayi (pointing to the other pool).” (I hoped it meant: Why only women in this pool and only men there). Apparently it was close enough because she laughed and said that the pool we were in was the shallow pool and the women she was with did not know how to swim. The other pool was the deep pool. We both laughed and called to Trent to come in the pool with us (he had been sitting nearby on a bench since we were all unsure if he was allowed in the pool!)
My new friend then, to my delight, began to talk to me in English! She had spent three years living in Houston. She now lives in a town in northwestern Honduras and she and her friends were at the spa for a holiday weekend. I asked her about our swim attire and she exclaimed “It is fine! Be free!” She said, with a laugh and outstretched arms, that she and her friends were more covered because they are fat. lol. She was pretty sure the teenage girls did not wear suits by personal preference and a cultural tendency toward more modest dress. After our conversation we felt more comfortable and had fun in the pool.
At about 5:00 the spa closed and we and creepy dude climbed into the van for the bumpy rode out of the rain forest and into town. About half way there the creeper jumped out, apparently to go to his home. Thank god. Now it was just the four of us.
A few cervezas and a good night’s sleep later, we woke up early to give it a second go at seeing the ruinas!
Audrey, Rhiannon, Evelyn and Trent – having fun in Honduras!