A Little Consideration…Honduras: The Central American South

“The American South” is one of those phrases that carries with it all sorts of implications depending on who you ask; Hollywood has sculpted the image of a region dotted with slow-talking hicks settled alongside gun-toting cowboys and the good-ole Southern hospitality thrown in there to serve up some sweet tea, fried chicken, and a dollop of mayonnaise.

Lazy Days in Central America

I actually grew up in the South, although saying that and being from Florida can cause all sorts of eye rolls from “true southerners;” but I do consider myself a southerner. Florida actually gave a bit of the best of both worlds – I grew up with all of the homey (read: unhealthy) foods of the South without the drawl (well, mostly without the drawl ;-).

The heat (and the elderly) makes the pace of life lazy and slow and the attitude is just different down there.

Which was precisely the thought moseying through my mind as I backpacked through Honduras.

Honduras is “the South” of Central America.

Central American Nut VendorStepping out of the bus into Honduras was like entering another world even though the border town of Copan was a mere 15 minute bumpy drive out of Guatemala. The sticky heat hit like a relentless wave attempting to drown an unsuspecting swimmer—Guatemala is hot, but the sun in Honduras is altogether different. Less elevation in the country translates into no cool air and pure undiluted sunshine baking the roads and anyone on them.

Then there’s the subject of cowboy hats. They’re everywhere. I may have spied maybe a cowboy hat or two during my months in Guatemala. Not the case in Honduras where all of the local men perching themselves within the Copan parque central avidly watched the new arrival of backpackers with a low and critical gaze skimming just under the brim of their downward tipped cowboy hats.

The entire vibe and culture took a major shift in Honduras…one that was not as immediately evident in the crossings between Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala and it immediately brought me back to feelings of traveling through the American South.

Everything I  see and do is filtered through my past experiences, my culture.  Extensive travel lessens that cultural bias in some ways, but it still lives on strong in others. So although Honduras is actually not one of my favorite countries (it has to happen at some point, I guess), the flavor of the interactions in Honduras created a déjà vu moment. Here I am surrounded by a heat so intense that it flows upward from the baking cement in visible ripples, surrounded by small glass stands selling greasy pollo frito while the locals take a slow and careful pace down the streets to avoid heatstroke and the one key difference is actually just the language…and even then, not so much.

For me, Honduras was a case of “anywhere you go, there you are.”

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8 Responses to A Little Consideration…Honduras: The Central American South

  1. jenniferbarry July 30, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    Nothing wrong with a drawl! I picked one up when I moved to Texas and it makes my life so much easier now.

    • ShannonOD July 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

      Nice! Glad to see that I'm not the only one ;-)

  2. Erica Kuschel July 27, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    I'm from the South! The only time my drawl comes out is when I've had one too many…. Alas, this sounds like an amazing location! We plan on being in Honduras in February or so (maybe March, who knows?)

    • ShannonOD July 27, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

      Agreed on the drawl! ;-) As for Honduras…it was my experience that there
      are pockets of great things to do, but that some of the neighboring
      countries might be better for a more in-depth backpacking experience, the
      region is great and Guatemala was a fav though, so have a blast and let me
      know once you head that way if you need tips!

  3. Audrey July 25, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    Great comparison of Honduras with the American south. I can definitely see that, although perhaps the women's clothes were a little tighter in Honduras.

    We kind of grouped Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador into one category for our Central America travels and Guatemala was on its own. We only realized once we left how unique Guatemala is in this region.

    • ShannonOD July 27, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

      I laughed out loud at the clothes comment…that is certainly true! :-) I
      didn't make it to the countries south of Honduras, but I find it so
      intriguing that Guatemala has managed to stand out so apart from the others
      despite proximity.

  4. Earl July 23, 2010 at 3:08 am #

    I certainly haven't noticed any drawl the two times we've met!

    I had such a quick experience in Honduras that I didn't really have time to make such observations. But it's interesting that you found it to be quite different from the other countries around it, countries that are thought to be quite culturally similar. Although, I will take a guess and assume that there were much fewer seniors driving Mercury Grand Marquis in Honduras than in Florida!

    • ShannonOD July 24, 2010 at 1:26 am #

      No drawl – score! I think that most people tell me I sound like a southerner
      because I use the “ya'll,” I'm thinking I got away easy though if that's the
      only evidence! ;-)

      I was actually surprised by how little the Honduran culture resembled
      Guatemala and the others…it was really quite different…though, no, there
      weren't a lot of Marquis rolling down the road at 15 mph!

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