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 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:

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!..."