Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Downtown Tegucigalpa

Following is a letter I wrote to the editor of "Honduras This Week". It appears in this week's issue. As always, I look forward to your comments.

Dear Editor,

I read the recent vignette about downtown Tegucigalpa with much interest. I have been traveling to Honduras regularly for the past twelve years, am married to a wonderful Honduran woman, have obtained Honduran residency, and am in the process of building a home just outside of Tegucigalpa.

Every time I visit Honduras, I always enjoy roaming around downtown Tegucigalpa. I leave my watch, jewelry, and excess cash at the house and my wife drops me off. I usually have no where in particular to go, so I just wonder around and end up wherever I end up. Invariably, I visit the National Art Museum which I really enjoy. It only takes about 45 minutes to go through its various galleries, but I like the sense of 'place' that I have upon leaving. Somehow I also always find my way to the 'parque central' and then into the cathedral where I set for a few minutes, meditate, contemplate, and pray. I then reenter the hustle and bustle of the city with a relaxed feeling inside.

Wondering the streets downtown always amazes me. I love the narrow streets, the architecture, the old facades and the sense of history that fills the air. Downtown Tegucigalpa is truly a jewel, but unfortunately, it's a jewel 'in the rough', unpolished and forgotten. While some people may relish its earthy nature, I've always dreamed of it being more.

I've had many discussions with my wife about downtown Tegucigalpa and what I dream and hope it could be. Honduras is very fortunate that its capital city has not been destroyed or severely damaged by earthquakes like Managua, San Salvador, and San Jose. While it suffered during Mitch, the damage could have been worse. It still retains its colonial character. Hondurans should consider this a national asset just as it would any natural resource and protect it in the same manner.

Laws should be passed proclaiming the area a historical zone with protections for the facades of all historical buildings within the zone. Incentives should be written into the law to encourage historical preservation and investment conducive to revitalization of the area in a historically sensitive manner. Large buses should be strictly banned. Security should be enhanced with a visible police presence and the creation of tourist police. There should be a constant police presence in the Teatro Bonilla area so theatre-goers will feel comfortable attending performances (thereby further supporting the arts and cultural scene). If they feel secure, maybe they will want to linger in the area for drinks and dinner before and after performances.

The city should clean up the trash downtown and discourage littering by placing more trash containers (and maintain them). It should enforce parking regulations. It should encourage the creation of business such as galleries, antique shops, cafes, and restaurants which would entice tourists to come. If tourists come, the revitalization would take on a momentum of its own. Hotels would open, shops and restaurants would thrive. People would then see potential and buy old houses in Buenos Aires and La Leona to renovate and live. Maybe sidewalk cafes would open. Kiosks could be placed on some sidewalks to sell magazines and newspapers.

I firmly believe that a strong commitment, followed by action could resurrect and revitalize downtown Tegucigalpa. Greater prosperity for all of Tegucigalpa's residents would be the result.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tegucigalpa (Nov. 20, 2006)

On Monday, we moved to the Clarion Hotel Real Tegucigalpa, $$$/***, (Col. Alameda, Calle Principal Juan Pablo II, tel. 286.6000, fax 286.6001). This high rise hotel is only a couple of blocks away from the Marriott, and is in a convenient location close to the Multiplaza mall. There are plenty of eating places nearby from fast-food to Chinese, steak, and Mexican restaurants. It has an elegant lobby and the swimming pool area is also very nice, but the rooms are showing their wear.

I remember when I first started to go to Tegucigalpa on a regular basis in the mid-1990's this hotel was only a skeleton of what was supposed to be a Sheraton hotel. After the frame of the building was erected, construction stopped for many years. I guess the developers ran out of money. For years, people gave directions by saying, "down the street from the Sheraton hotel", or "turn left at the Sheraton and go three blocks..." But there never was any Sheraton hotel, only the skeleton of the 'intended' Sheraton. Regardless, everyone called it the Sheraton.

Finally, in the late '90's, a Guatemalan company bought the place and finished the hotel, renaming it The Princess Hotel. This company owned several Princess hotels scattered about in all the major Central American cities. They did a really fine job of completing the hotel with a grand lobby and pool. Close attention was paid to all the details and the rooms were finished in an traditional English style. There was a 'piso ejecutivo' with a lounge and impeccable service. I stayed at the Princess several times and it was one of my favorite hotels in Tegucigalpa.

Soon after it was opened, the Real Intercontinental Hotel was built nearby, and then the Marriott a couple of years ago. I guess the market wasn't big enough for three luxury hotels, so the Princess was sold to the Salvadorian company, Grupo Real. This company owns all the Intercontinental hotels in Central America as well as some other hotel properties. They rebranded the hotel as a 'Clarion' hotel, and have positioned the hotel a notch or two down in price, service and quality. They've done away with the executive floor, and the rooms while nice seem to be showing their wear.

We ate lunch at I'golosi, $$/*** (Col. Palmira, Ave. Rep. de Argentina, tel. 232.2168). The restaurant is tucked away behind the furniture store, Amanda's, and there is no sign. You can enter from Amanda's or from a walkway on the left hand side of the store. The ambiance is simple but tasteful with hints of the Mediterreanean and Mid-East. Because you would never know its there, its not rushed and you can relax and enjoy your meal. It's a wonderful place to linger with a friend and enjoy an espresso, pastry and conversation. The one drawback is that the menu is limited, but what there is, is all very good. There are some appetizers, lasagne, salads, soup of the day, and some sandwiches. My wife and I shared orders of kibbeh ($1.60), hummus ($2.10) and an Italian sandwich ($4.25). I'golosi is one of Don Godo's Favorites!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Christmas season in Honduras somehow just doesn't seem like Christmas. Maybe it's the warm weather and lack of snow...

But there is one Christmas tradition in Honduras that is quite beautiful, and that I have really come to appreciate. While North American Christmas decorations tend towards elaborate Christmas trees, wreaths, and Santa Claus, Hondurans try to outdo each other with 'nacimientos'.

A 'nacimiento' is a Nativity scene. Some are elegant, some are simple, some are huge and others very small; but they are everywhere. Businesses from restaurants and retail stores to banks and offices have them. Both rich and poor people alike have them. Most are unabashedly on public display. Some are handmade, some are factory made, and some are real works of art. People go around and admire the biggest and grandest although I find the most humble to be the most elegant in their simplicity.

This is not to say that people don't have Christmas trees and lights, because they do. Most of these are all artificial and represent the imported American culture that so dominates Central America. But to me, 'naciemientos' represent an authenticity in the culture, one that does not shy away from recognizing the true meaning of Christmas. They represent an attachment to Christmas per se, instead of the brazen commercialism and secularism found in North America.

I believe Christmas in Honduras will grow on me...

Feliz Navidad!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tegucigalpa (Sun. Nov. 19)

We stayed at the Tegucigalpa Marriott Hotel for the weekend. ($$$$, Boulevard Juan Pablo II, tel. 232.0033, fax 235.7700). It's a modern, high rise hotel located very close to the Mall Multiplaza. We stayed there Saturday and Sunday because they have a special weekend rate of $99.00. Since I had not seen my family for a long time, I sprang for the junior suite which was an extra $40.00. Being in a junior suite meant that we were automatically put on the concierage floor where there is a private lounge with free snacks and refreshments in the evenings and free mini-breakfast buffet in the mornings. The upgrade is definitely money well spent. The Napoc lounge located in the lobby is quite active on Saturday nights. During the weekdays, the room rates go up considerably...to $159.00! So unless you are on an expense account, there are other nice hotels that are much more reasonably priced.

For Sunday lunch we ate at Los Cebollines ($$$, next to the Mall Multiplaza, tel.232.0680). It's a Mexican chain restaurant with locations in San Pedro Sula as well as other Central American countries. The ambiance is nice and the food is quite good, definitely not your typical Tex-Mex fare. If you're in a group, I highly recommend one of their "meter" platters, which is quite literally served on a meter long wooden board with meat, beans, grilled green onions, sauces, etc.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tegucigalpa (Sat. Nov. 18, 2006)

I love Tegucigalpa!! I love the name, the way it rolls off my tongue. I love the mountains, hills, and pine forests that surround the city. I love the climate, warm in the day and comfortable at night. I love the Third World quirkiness and chaos of it all. I love the confusion and disorderly streets which prevent me from easily knowing my way around even after a dozen years of frequent visits. I love the colonial buildings begging for renovation, yet elegant in their decay. I love the size, manageable yet big enough. Most of all, I love my wife who was born in its bosom.

As I arrived that Saturday evening, I was filled with eager anticipation. It was the first time I had seen my family in four months. There was so much to talk about, so much to catch up on, and so much to do but so precious little time.

After checking into our hotel, we went to dinner at 'La Creperia' (Avenida San Juan Bosco, tel. 239.4896, $$). We had passed the restaurant on our way to the hotel, and I noticed that the parking area was full of cars, which is invaribly a good sign. I was not to be disappointed. The ambiance was quite nice, and there was a terrace in the back with a beautiful city view. The menu had a large variety of both dinner and dessert crepes as well as pastas, salads, meat and poultry. The prices were very reasonable ranging from 75 lemperias ($4.00) for crepes or lasagne to 130 lempiras ($6.85) for chicken breast served with salad and fries. I ate a crepe stuffed with ham, cheese and egg. The food was delicious. I'm adding this restaurant to 'Don Godo's Favorites' list.

Everyone was tired, so we returned to the hotel and retired for the evening.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back in never, never land

I just returned to New Orleans last night from Honduras. I had a great time, although the weather was lousy. Just my luck, a very rare cold front hit upon my arrival. I spent five nights in Tegucigalpa, three nights in Tela, and one night in San Pedro Sula. In Tela, I had the opportunity to meet and dine with my fellow blogger, La Gringa of www.lagringasblogicito.blogspot.com fame. It was a most enjoyable evening.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will leave posts on just about everything about my trip, from the progress on our house, impressions in general, restaurant reviews, do's and don'ts, etc.

Please check back!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Going to Honduras!!!

Hey folks!! I'm going to Honduras on Nov. 18, returning to New Orleans on Nov. 27. The trip will be way too short, but I'm really excited. I'll see my wife and two babies (...um, I mean 'big boys') for the first time since early August. This is the hardest part of the transition for me...living without my family.

I will fly to San Pedro Sula because I was able to get the tickets for several hundred dollars less than going directly to Tegucigalpa. My family will pick me up at the airport and whisk me away to Tegucigalpa. There is so much to do and so little time. We will be picking out tiles, wood, stone for the house. Actually, I believe my wife has already done this and is only letting me see them as formality...or maybe just a courtesy! It really doesn't matter as we have very similiar tastes and her judgement in decorating (as in everything else) is impeccable.

I will see first hand the progress made on our house and will be sure to take zillions of pictures. I will also see the progress on our cafe to be. So far my wife has refused to email me any pictures of the cafe because she wants it to be a surprise. She has spent many long hours there meticulously overseeing every detail. She hired two full time gardeners and they have been planting flowers, fruit trees, clearing, cleaning, and pruning. I can't wait to see. I promise to post some pictures.

Puky and Coco (the two big boys) have Nov. 23-24 off from school for Thanksgiving. We will go to Tela for a mini-vacation. The beaches there are quite nice.

I'll leave from SPS on Monday, Nov. 27 to return to my dismal and lonely existence in post-Katrina New Orleans. Yes, I know, the kids will miss one day of school...

Upon my return, I will post reviews of the hotels, beaches and restaurants as viewed through my critical and unbiased (yeah, right!...) eyes.

In the meantime, I wish myself 'bon voyage!' or is it '!bien viaje!'...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Why I'm Moving to Honduras

My substitute blogger, Andrew, a.k.a Puky, obviously didn't post anything in my absence. What should his punishment be? What about four weeks without Gameboy or Playstation?...

Anyway, one of my fellow Honduras Bloggers, posted why she moved to Honduras. This got me to thinking about my own reasons, and for my own therapy I've decided to post the same topic. If nothing else, it will be interesting for me to review this post in a few years...

Ever since we were married (eleven years in January), my wife and I knew we would retire in Honduras. She is originally from Honduras and her entire family lives there. She was living in Honduras when we married, and she moved to the States because of our marriage. She has never really liked living in the USA, and was perfectly content with her life in Honduras until I stirred things up.

I've always enjoyed going to Honduras, and have been there many times. (I just wish I had studied Spanish in school instead of French). We always assumed that by moving to Honduras, I could retire at a younger age and have more time with my family. The cost of living is considerably cheaper than the USA. Thus, my reasoning was that if I saved a fair amount, invested wisely, and lived somewhere where the cost of living is cheap (Honduras), I could afford to retire young.

We just didn't know when exactly we would make the move...then, came Katrina. And she came with a vengence!! She shook my world to its core.

When Katrina hit, I was in North Carolina visiting my 88 year old father who was in the hospital in intensive care (fortunately, he has since recovered). My family was forced to evacuate by themselves, and I met up with them in Memphis. We returned to survey our damage, loaded up the mini van and went to Houston where we lived in an unfurnished apartment for a month...until we evacuated from Houston and returned to New Orleans when Hurricane Rita had us in her sight.

We were fortunate in that our house was not severely damaged and we were able to live in our house while repairs were being made. But when I saw the devastation, it was truely heart wrenching. The devastation stretches for miles and miles...Still today, not much has changed. This year we were lucky and the hurricane season was very calm.

Katrina made my wife and I reassess our priorities. We are tired of evacuating once or twice every hurricane season. But more importantly, we realized that quality of life is our greatest priority now. So we moved up our relocation date and decided to start building our home outside of Tegucigalpa. If it hadn't of been for Katrina, when would we actually move to Honduras. I don't know...Maybe five or ten years from now. But, we would have eventually ended up there.

When I say quality of life, I know that Honduras is a poor country, and many people would say "what quality of life?" But it reminds me also of the more innocent America that I grew up in. I'm not nostalgic, but I want more time with my family, I want to enjoy a more leisurely life while I'm still relatively young. And, I want to live somewhere where I might be able to make small differences in positive ways.

I'm also disillusioned with many aspects of American life and culture. Some are the same old ills that everyone speaks of, materialism, 24/7 lifestyles, etc. and some disilluionments are of a more personal nature.

I guess in the end, its time for me to follow my wife home.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Don Godo Will be Out of Town Oct. 12- Oct. 30

Don Godo will be on a business trip to France during the second half of October, returning just in time to play Halloween tricks on all the brats in his neighborhood.

In his abscence, Don Godo has asked Andrew to post direct from the scene of all the action in Honduras.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Don Godo's Reading List

The first book on my reading list is O'Henry's "Cabbages and Kings". It was first published in 1904, and it was written by O'Henry while he was in exile, actually on the lam, in Honduras trying to avoid arrest in the USA. It takes place in the fictional country of Anchuria (Honduras) and in the town of Coralio (La Ceiba). It's extremely humorous, and I'm sure my North Coast friends will enjoy it while cuddled in their hammocks with a bottle of Flor de Cana in one hand and the sounds of spider monkeys and toucans in the background.

I must admit that I'm biased as O'Henry was born and raised in my hometown of Greensboro, NC

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Honduran Patrimony

I've always had an interest in historical preservation, and as such I'm intrigued by the history and patrimony of Honduras, my adopted land. Guatemala City, San Salvador, Managua, and San Jose have all been ravaged by earthquakes, and much of their patrimony has been lost. While Honduras has been spared from destruction of earthquakes, it has not escaped the destruction of human neglect. Unfortunately, much of it's history and patrimony has already been destroyed through this neglect. And, much of what human apathy didn't destroy, Hurricane Mitch finished off.

Today, Hondurans look to the great Gringo land up North for cultural leadership. Almost every American franchise is represented, from McDonald's, Burger KIng, Pizza Hut, Wendy's, Chuch's Fried Chicken to Applebee's, Friday's, and Ruby Tuesday. If you drive down the Boulevard Morazan in Tegucigalpa, it seems that every fast food joint is competing with each other in who create the most visual pollution by erecting the largest and ugliest sign. On the retail side, Offfice Depot is opening stores, there's Rooms to Go, and USA Cleaner's. In lodging there's Clarion, Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, Hilton, and Marriott. The indigenous Honduran hotels are in decline due to lack of renovation and upkeep.

All of this presupposes a value judgement on the part of Hondurans that their culture is not vibrant. I believe it expresses a cultural inferiority complex. To me, this is a real shame...

For some idea of the richness of Honduras' past, please visit the following website:


As always, I look forward to your comments.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I've been travelling to Honduras now for twenty years on a fairly regular basis. From time to time, I enjoy taking a stroll down memory lane...So here goes Part One in an occasional journey through the fog and haze of my memories...

My first trip to Honduras was in the mid-1980's. It was my first overseas business trip. I was a lowly hot sauce peddler and my trip was to Central America, with Honduras being the first stop.

My flight to San Pedro Sula was via SAHSA (the now defunct national airline of Honduras). In keeping with Honduran tradition, the flight from New Orleans was delayed several hours. As a result, the flight did not arrive to San Pedro Sula until 8:30 or 9:00 PM. Upon arrival, I noticed that everything was dark. Sure enough, the airport was closed. Our luggage was taken off the plane and put next to the terminal. After finding my bag, I looked around for customs, but of course it was closed too. So I went to the front of the terminal to find a taxi to take me to my hotel. There were no taxis... I hitched a ride into town with a fellow passenger. They charged me $10.00 for the ride. This was my first welcome to Honduras...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wine, Wine, Wine, the fruit of the vine, or maybe just vinegar?

During my many visits to Honduras, I have realized that Honduras does not, repeat, does not have a 'wine culture'. You'll be lucky to even find European wines that we take for granted, whether from the center of the universe (France), Spain, or Italy. You can find them but they're not very common. Totally forget trying to find wines from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or Bulgaria. If the vintage is from an obscure locale, it's not existent in the Honduran world view.

The wines that are available are mainly Chilean, Argentinian, and Californian. You can find these at almost all grocery stores and they are reasonably priced, similiar to USA prices. The nice thing is that restaurants don't have the huge markup on wines that they have Stateside. An $8.00 bottle of Chilean wine in a supermarket will cost maybe $12.00-14.00 in a restaurant, compared to the obscene markup in the USA where an $8.00 bottle magically becomes a $28.00 bottle!

The problem is that since Honduras does not have a wine culture, you never know how long the bottles have been sitting on the shelf, whether the cork has dried out, and whether you'll be buying wine or vinegar. This has happened to me on several occasions where I opened my newly acquired bottle to find that it had as Monty Python so aptly put it, "the bouquet of an average armpit".

THE SOLUTION: Only buy wine from stores where lots of expatriates shop. In Tegucigalpa, I've found that there are always expats shopping at the Paiz store in the mall accross from the Intercontinental Hotel. They have a good wine selection, and I've never had a problem.

The problem of spoiled wine is even worse on the North Coast (think Tela, La Ceiba, and San Pedro Sula) due to the hot, humid client.

My ever enterprising wife has found an even better solution. She went to a wine wholesaler/importer and asked if she could buy wine there. They were happy to oblige as long as she bought a minimum of an assorted case. They even threw in a cork screw!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


My wife and kids are now living full time in Honduras. The kids (and I don't mean baby goats) are going to school, meeting new friends, taking tennis and soccer classes, ie. just enjoying childhood!! My ever energetic and ambitious wife is overseeing the contruction of our house and renovation of our business property, in addition to her 'soccer Mom' duties. She is quite heroic if I do say so myself, but she volunterred for the job, saying "too much money was at risk to do it by remote control".

Myself, on the other hand, continues my suburban existence outside of the remanants of New Orleans. I go to work, come home, and hang out with my pet bird named Arthur. Now if only Arthur could talk...my sanity would be more assured...

This is where Vonage comes in as handy life preserver...

My wife got high speed internet through the cable company (about $55.00/month), and she bought a vonage kit at Circuit City prior to moving to Honduras. The vonage costs about $23.00/month and I can call her anytime, from any phone, seven days a week/24 hours a day, unlimited, no extra charges...

Calling Honduras vis-a-vis Bell South was about $0.45/min. So the typical calls were $20.-$25 each. Using Bell South, I could either go bankrupt or die of loneliness...

Now that I can call as often and as much as I want (and I do), my wife's patience and sanity is beginning to...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Real Estate Web Site

For those of you considering buying real estate in Honduras, check out the following website: www.ngabrie.com

This is the site for Inverprop. The owner is Honduran and is very professional. If you feel more comfortable with English, the site has an English option. What I think is good is that he has properties listed by category (beach, city, houses, apartments, lots, etc.) But most importantly, the agency (and thus the site also) is geared towards local Hondurans. It has prices and pictures of the properties. Since it's not geared necessarily to expaatriates or the almighty Gringo $, the prices are more realistic and a truer pciture of the market.

I think you'll find this site to be your best starting point (unless of course, you prefer to have your hand held and pay Gringo prices!)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Minor Frustrations

In conjunction with building our house, we are renovating a 'campesino' house outside of Valle de Angeles that we want to turn into a cafe. We hope it will be nice as we are trying to maintain the arquetectural integrity and style of a turn of the century farmhouse. One thing we want to do is grow our own organic coffee on the premises which we will use in the cafe. In order to do this, we need to cut down several pine trees and plant more appropriate shade trees for the coffee.

Recently, due to deforestation, legislation has been enacted requiring government approval prior to cutting down any trees. Now, I'm as 'green' as the next guy and I believe this law was way past due, but my wife has made three appointments with the responsible authorities to inspect the site and trees that we want to cut down. Each time she went to the property and waited several hours to no avail. No one ever showed up as promised.

I guess we better start getting used to this.

It reminds me of an American friend who lives in San Pedro Sula. When he built his house, the lighting fixtures on the wall in the powder room were not centered over the sink. Instead, they were installed about a foot to the left of the center. I guess its called compromise, but I still notice the light fixtures every time I visit them...

On the brighter side, my wife reports to me that our kids, Andrew and Adrian, really like their new school and are adjusting very well. They like it better than their old school is suburbia...

When they visit the home site, they tell my wife, "we better build a pretty home so Papa will come here!..."

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Appointment In Honduras

Glen Ford died today. In his memory, I would like to recommend that you buy or rent the 1953 film noir classic "Appointment in Honduras". It co-stars Ann Sheridan.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


My wife and 2 small children finally moved to Honduras in mid June. She has not run into problems as of yet. Maybe the only one was the kids' school, in the sense that since its the capital, I guess the demand for available spaces is a lot more. We were unable to find space for both our boys in our 2 top choices - they would take one but not the other. It seems the younger the children the harder it is to get in. We did however, find a spot for both in another bilingual school (which I will admit was my kids favorite!). The first line of business was to get internet service (so we could use vonage) and call the US every day. Our biggest expense is the children's school, everything else is minor in comparison to Louisiana, except maybe the internet service. The school is 60% foreigners and I guess that is the reason why it is so expensive, but.. my kids fell in love with it. We reached our decision of what schools to apply to by finding out how many children from the graduating class were going abroad for collage. There are more than 3 excellent bilingual schools, of course. Our house should be finished in march and we have not run into any major problems as of yet. We hired an engineer to build the house and she seems to be doing a good job. It will be ready in about 9 months (February 2007). ... We just bought a car, a 2006 SUV Hyundai Santa Fe Diesel 2x4, for $27,000. I am including prices because I have received several emails requesting specific information. The children are enrolled in Tennis camp right now and it is $75 a month for 2 hours a day/5 days/week with about 4-5 kids/instructer. Food is relatively cheap, about $50/week for all 3. Energy bill is around $80/month -it can be cheaper, but my wife does not care for drying clothes in the sun. The maid is $200/month full time for a GOOD one. You can find one cheaper with no experience. Minimum wage is abouth $155/month. Our budget is about $1,800/month for all 3 of them. We have not checked health insurance costs yet but we will keep you informed. But to give you an idea on the cost of medical care, our attorney just had a tummy tuck for $3,000 (all costs included). The cost of a doctors visit (US/Europe graduate) is about $25 without insurance. There are of course cheaper doctors, specially in small towns. To all those who have sent emails, I hope this helps.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


My wife just returned from Honduras this weekend. She went there so she could monitor how things were going with the construction, and to make changes if necessary before things get too far along. We both feel a little nervous building our dream home by remote control.

I was really pleased hearing of the progress!

She took a lot of pictures, so as soon as we can figure out how to download them to this blog, we will.

One thing she did do which I believe will save us substantial money over the course of the construction, was she hired an engineer to oversee our builder. Every two weeks, the builder presents a bill for the last two week's work, all the labor, etc. We have no way of knowing whether the bill is acurate and actually reflects the job being done or not, ie. whether he is overcharging. Our new supervising engineer will visit the site every two weeks and measure the amount of construction since the last bill and compare it to make sure the cost is reasonable and accurate.

My wife's cousin just built a home and his bank required a supervising engineer as one of the terms of the loan. We are using the same lady that he used. We feel she is quite reliable as she is normally contracted through a bank. As it turns out, this is quite a common practice in Honduras so don't be embarrassed about it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Even though we have not finished our house, I have already applied for and received Honduran residency. There are several types of residency available, but I have what is called a 'rentista' visa. I can maintain my residency as long as I convert a $1000.00 a month into lemperas. When I say $1000.00/month, it does not have to be done on a monthly basis, I can convert $500.00 one time, next time $4,000.00 and the next time $1,500.00 for example. If I did this, my residency would be covered for six months.

The laws are subject to change of course, but at the time I got my residency (about two years ago), this type of residentcy entitled me to import all my household furnishings duty free. Also, I'm entitled to bring in a new car duty free every five years.

I believe that everyone contemplating building a home in Honduras should get their residency first. I cannot stress this enough!!! The reason is that you will be spending a large sum of money building or buying your home. If you get the residency first, all the money that you convert into lempieras to pay for the construction or purchase can be applied to fullfilling the currency conversion requirements of your residency. For example, if your home costs $250,000, you would be able to generate foreign exchange receipts sufficient to cover the next 20 years!!

The residency is relatively easy to get, but you should have a local attorney walk you through the process. If you need a referral, please leave a comment and I will email you the details of the attorney who handled mine.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

getting started

It has been a long time since I started this blog, and I have not kept it up to date. I will do better in the future!! At least that is my goal...

To bring things up to date, I am excited to say that things have gotten started!! We bought a lot in El Chimbo, about 10 km outside of Tegucigalpa on the road to Valle de Angeles. It is in a subdivison called 'Siboney'. There are a few houses there now. Our lot is on the top of a hill and has a great view. At night you can see all the lights from Teguz, and the view of the surrounding hills and mountains is just incredible (except for the cell phone tower that was erected after we purchased the lot).

We already have the architectural plans complete. A very skillful Honduran architect did the design going back and forth with my wife via email over a one year period. We are very pleased with the way the plans turned out, and would definitely use the same woman again in the future.

We started construction in February and estimate that it will take a year and a half to complete. Right now work is being done on the retention wall.