Honduras is a Central American country blessed with tremendous ecological and cultural diversity. Visitors here will encounter majestic green mountains, beach paradises, verdant valleys, and lush tropical forests. In fact, Honduras has more of its territory covered by forest than any country in Central America, with three times more forest cover than much-ballyhooed Costa Rica! Honduras hosts more than 10,000 plant species, and many rare animals, in a wide range of ecosystems, including coastal mangroves, extensive rainforests, pine forests in the highlands, and substantial tracts of rare cloud forests.The tranquil and enjoyable town of Copán Ruinas is nestled in the mountains of western Honduras, near the Guatemalan border. World-renowned for it’s magnificent Mayan ruins, Copán Ruinas’ 6,ooo inhabitants live in a serene valley that is easily accessible by air-conditioned bus from the major cities of Honduras and Guatemala. (In late 2002, the Copán Airport will open, providing even easier access.)
Copán Ruinas provides all the modern services that a Spanish student needs for a comfortable and rewarding visit. In fact, you can walk across the entire town in a few minutes, so the school, your Copanecan family, and all the town’s amenities are right at hand.When you’re not in class, Copán Ruinas offers a wide range of activities to suit every taste. Relax in a hot springs, or ride a horse along the river, or up into the hills to hidden villages. You can stroll leisurely along, or even kayak down, the Copán River. Or, take a more strenuous hike up into the hills to visit hidden ruins, practicing your Spanish with the always-gracious villagers you’ll meet along the way.
Culturally, the region around Copán Ruinas presents the visitor with one of the most memorable and authentic experiences in all of Central America. First, the sublime and mysterious ruins of Copán are just half a mile from the town.
Designated a World Heritage Site, these captivating ruins are all that remain of a city that archeologists believe was the cultural center, the Paris, of the entire Mayan world. Marvel at the delightfully intricate stelae (statues), descend into the mysterious Rosalila and Jaguar tunnels, or tour the grand Sculpture Museum, with its stunning life-size replica of the renowned Rosalila Temple.
Copán’s fascinating culture is not just grounded in its ancient Mayan heritage. Just walk five minutes out of town, away from the restaurants, internet cafes, and other comforts of the modern world, and you will at once be transported back in time to a pre-modern rural culture, where the people walk, or ride a horse, where they want to go, they grow their own food, they clear their fields with machetes, and cook their meals with firewood laboriously gathered from the steep hillsides. In fact, in the Copán valley there still lives an indigenous population of Chortí Maya, descendants of the ancient Maya, whose social practices and cultural traditions have hardly changed for hundreds of years. As a student at Ixbalanque, you will take an unforgettable field trip to a Chortí Maya community.