LU International Insights

Tatiana Briceno

Many people are uninformed about Honduras. Some think it is part of the United States, and still others think it is an island. So, who is correct? Nobody!
Slightly larger than the state of Tennessee, Honduras is a country located in Central America. Three countries – Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador – and two bodies of water – the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea – surround it. Honduras was Spanish territory until 1821, when it became independent. Tegucigalpa is its capital city.
Our ancestors are the Mayas, however, there is no specific look about a Honduran because many people from the Middle East (especially Turkey), Asia (especially China and the Philippines), Africa, and Europe (mostly Spain) have immigrated to Honduras.
Therefore, most people in Honduras are “mixed.” Along the coast mostly black Caribs (called Garifunas) and whites are found, while in the rest of the country there are a lot of Amerindians, Europeans, Turks and Asians.
Honduras’s climate is comfortably warm most of the year, and the sun usually goes down at 8 p.m. Where there are no tall mountains, the Pacific and the Caribbean cause high humidity. As for landscape, Honduras has many mountains, jungles, waterfalls, rivers, beaches, and beautiful coral reefs.
In fact, Honduras and all the rest of the Caribbean have the second largest coral reefs in the world. Honduras has some Mayan ruins, located in the department of Copan, hence the name “Copan Ruinas.”
Honduras’s national dance is called “punta” and is somewhat similar to the Brazilian dance “zamba”. Punta’s instruments include the garawon (drum), rattles, and turtle shells plus modern electronic instruments such as the electric guitar. The lyrics of punta are usually in Garifuna, which is a dialect that comes from a combination of Arahuaco, French, Swahilli and Bantu. A very famous punta song is called “Sopa de Caracol”, sung in Garifuna and Spanish by the Honduran band “Banda Blanca” – check it out on youtube.com.
One’s location in Honduras affects what food is typically eaten. For example, Hondurans along the coast are accustomed to eating snail soup, fried plantains, shrimp and fish. The rest of the country eats “pupusas” (fried tortillas with cheese and fried pork), “casamiento de frijoles con arroz” (which means marriage of beans with rice), pork soup, tortillas with salt, pico de gallo, guacamole and beef.
Hondurans dress like Americans, and although a lot of the modern Honduran clothes come from the U.S., most come from Europe or are made in Honduras. To celebrate cultural celebrations, Hondurans wear traditional dresses. These can be made of many different types of materials, such as seeds, leaves and feathers from many different kinds of animals.
Some women compete for titles such as Queen of Corn, Tobacco, Banana, Coffee, Beans, Pineapple, Mango or Potatoes. If someone is dressed up as Queen of Beans, her dress will be made of beans. Most of the time the dress designers will paint the beans to give the dress more decoration. Other women and men may represent different kinds of animals, and will then dress appropriately.
European cultural influences are visible in daily Honduran life. Like many French people, Hondurans usually go to the bakery after school or work to go get a fresh baguette and when at home, the family gets together to drink a cup of hot black coffee. People usually dip the bread in the coffee and have superstitious conversations in their house’s porches. After the afternoon coffee, many children and teens finish their homework and then watch “novellas,” Mexican soap operas.
In Tegucigalpa’s neighborhoods, there are many “pulperias” – mini supermarkets in the living rooms of houses. They sell items such as chips, cookies, pastries, batteries, gum, milk and sodas. At a pulperia, a customer usually stands outside a barred door and looks at all the shelves full of stuff. They wait for an attendant to see them and at that moment they shout their order, for example, “Three tomatoes, one pound of tortillas and two baguettes, please!”
The attendant, usually either an old lady or a five-year-old, jumps into action and digs into the mysterious back corners of his or her living room to find what their customer asked for. If the customer orders a soda, they must specify if it is for there or to go. If they decide they want it to go, the attendant will pour it in a clear plastic bag. If the customer decides to drink it there, the attendant will give them the glass bottle, which they are expected to return when they have finished drinking.
Many Honduran families also have “cyber-spaces” in their houses, where they charge customers to use computers with Internet access.
Some people chose not to go to pulperias simply because many vendors walk every day by the neighborhoods offering their goods. For example, a woman and her child will carry a “canasto” (basket) on top of their heads, inside which tortillas, fruits and vegetables can be found. There are even trucks that pass every day selling bottles of water, sodas, and fruits and vegetables.
Shoe repairers and people selling mirrors, brooms, mops, clothes and jewelry will come knocking to offer their products. People usually become close friends with these traveling vendors. Every Saturday morning there is a sale at an outdoor market called “El Mayoreo” at the city’s downtown. Many people go there with their families to talk and shop for hours.
Honduras offers many interesting and unique opportunities. Popular water activities include scuba diving and white water rafting, while some may choose to go camping or to see the Mayan Ruins. There are also great museums, modern malls, and of course the Mayoreo and pulperias!
The varied Honduran landscape caters to both those who prefer mountains and wildlife as well as some who’d rather see the beaches of the bay and Swan Islands.

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