centralamerica.com

Culture

The People

Honduras, like six out of the seven countries in Central America, is Latino. Its people are Latino, for the most part, and so is the culture.

There’s a machismo vibe about Honduras, especially in the “wild east” departments of Olancho and Gracias a Dios. Here is where cowboy culture rules and blood feuds still happen.

But it’s not all macho bullshit. Hondurans love to party and the street festival or carnival is an intrinsic part of life.

Although the mestizo latin-ness is dominant in Honduras, the country is also influenced by other cultures. Many indigenous peoples call Honduras home, including the Lenca and Miskito peoples.

Garifuna fishermen in La Ceiba, Honduras / Kristen Klein / Flickr / Commercial Use Allowed

The Caribbean coast of Honduras and the outlying Bay Islands are home to the Garifuna people, descendants of African slaves mixed with Arawak Indians from the West Indies. They were deported to Roatan by the British in the 18th century. From Roatan, the Garifuna people spread to the mainland, including Belize and Guatemala.

Honduras also has the largest Palestinian community in Central America. Their ancestors came over from the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th century. This community lives around the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras’s commercial hub. There is also a small Chinese population in Honduras.

Hondurans love their music. The music that is popular throughout Latin America is popular in Honduras. The sounds of salsa and cumbia are often in homes, bars, and on the streets. The northern coast and the Bay Islands have that typical Caribbean vibe with calypso and reggae the order of the day. In the hinterlands where the ranches are, the locals listen to Mexican ranchero music. The Garifuna also have their own music, punta, which is “the sound” of Honduras.

Sports in Honduras means only one thing. Soccer. Honduras has been a major player in the North American game. Its men’s national side reaches the World Cup on a regular basis and punches above its weight once it gets there. Every town and village in the country has a soccer pitch.

Diving in Honduras / Ben / Flickr / Commercial Use Allowed

In the Bay Islands, the diving and snorkeling are some of the best in the world. The islands sit as part of the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef in the world. People travel from all over the planet to dive in the Bay islands, and an increasing number of Hondurans are joining them in doing so.

Honduras is where the first ever Roman Catholic mass in Central America was celebrated. It could well be the site of the first in the continental Americas. It took place among the crew of Christopher Columbus when they landed at Punta Caxinas on August 15, 1502. Since then Catholicism hasn’t looked back. It’s the largest religion by far in Honduras, although freedom of religion is defined within the constitution. Parts of the Mosquito Coast that were ruled by the British worship as Anglicans, but they are a small minority.

The Food

Honduran food mixes up cuisines from the Caribbean, the indigenous Lenca people, the Spanish, and Africa. The Garifuna have their own way of cooking up a meal, too.

It’s pretty good and a little bit more adventurous and spicy than other Central American cuisines. For example, Hondurans are not afraid using a few jalapeños now and then.

Of course, the staples are the same throughout Central America. Corn-based, as it has been for thousands of years. Tortillas come with pretty much everything, starting with breakfast. Tamales are popular too. Beans are a staple and help to fill up space in a tortilla not taken up by meat and cheese.

Like the other nationalities in Central America, Hondurans also love their soup. Sopa de caracol (conch soup) is the best-known dish from Honduras.

Fried fish, Honduras / Micah MacAllen / Flickr / Commercial Use Allowed

Speaking of seafood, there is a fish that lives in Lake Yojoa, the largest lake in Honduras, set between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. That fish, when fried up and served with plantains and cabbage, is another one of Honduras’s national dishes.

Meat is a thing here, too. Especially beef, of which is of good quality in Honduras. Ask for a plato tipico in any restaurant and you’ll get carneada, barbecued beef marinated in orange juice and other spices, and grilled. A carneada is also a social event where people get together as families or neighborhood to grill out and eat meat.


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