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La Esperanza, Honduras - and other Best Places

La Esperanza – La Esperanza, Honduras lies about 60 km east of Gracias, in the department of Intibuca - - an area heavily populated by the Lenca people.  The trip, on the road froMaking Adobe Bricks, Near La Esperanza, Honduras.m Gracias to La Esperanza, takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Honduras and Central America.

Near La Esperanza, adobe brick construction dots the landscape; bananas can be found growing at 4000’ (sweeter than coastal bananas) and small plots of corn are perched on a 50-degree slope. You will see some deforestation around La Esperanza, but nothing like the deforestation of Western Guatemala.

•  Visit the open-air market in La Esperanza.  While at the market in La Esperanza, buy steaming, hot tamalitos (small tamales but the best are made from fresh corn - - jilote) and a small amount of cream (crema).   That crema gets lathered onto the tamalito.  Swill La Esperanza's best coffee.  Slowly stroll the market for an hour and soak in the real Honduras experience.  Stop and have another coffee and a second tamilito.  You get the picture.

Gracias – While not an overly attractive town, Gracias is so rich in history, it shouldn’t be missed.  (Read some history before leaving home).  Stand in the village square and imagine the area, as it might have looked when Captain Juan de Chavez entered the area in 1536.  (In 1544, Gracias became the administrative center for all Spanish matters within Central America.)  

Stroll the town, taking in the colonial architecture, seen clearly in the the 3 churches in town.  Mosey on up to Guancascos Restaurant and Hotel for a dinner on the terraced patio.  Magnificent view of the surrounding area.   Catch the stars after dark.

•  Celaque National Park is a mere 9 kilometers from Gracias and has hiking trails even for the casual hiker.  The cloud forest holds Honduras’ highest peak at 9,350 feet.  Celaque is the sacred heart of Lencan (the indigenous people of the area) spirituality.  Hikers should ask at Guancascos or Hotel Erick for transportation ideas because a bus doesn’t make the trek to the park.  The Friends of Celaque are making serious efforts at raising the awareness of preserving the ecosystem of the park.

Fútbol – Soccer fans will be pleased to know that soccer is alive and well in Honduras.  While the best Honduran players move on to Europe, a very competitive league (link in Spanish only - Go Vida!) of 10 teams exists.  Your hotel front desk can direct you to the stadium(s) (Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, and Tegus).  The La Ceiba stadium is the easiest to find and reach.  An amateur game is always going on -- just keep your eyes open around schools and open areas.

Santa Rosa de Copan – Find a building with an accessible roof or any high place surrounding the city and take in a sunset dipping below the horizon of the hills.  Breathtaking.  Visit the Don Melo cigar outlet next to the Hotel Elvir for hand-rolled cigars at less than 1/3 the retail cost in North America.  (You can bring 100 cigars back into the U.S.)  Watch cigars being rolled by hand out at the factory near the bus stop.
•  Five blocks east of the square is Pizza Pizza, a restaurant owned by Warren Post.  Warren is an ex-pat who has done a great deal to promote tourism in the Western highlands and serves as an invaluable source of information about the area.  He authors a web site that is indispensable for visitors planning to visit the Santa Rosa de Copan area.  Oh yes, have some pizza at his place while you are there. 
•  Holy Week procession is a phenomenal time in Santa Rosa.  If you opt for this event, advance reservations are really needed.  Get them early.

Miami Airport
Even before leaving Miami, spend some time in the concourse where the Latin American/Caribbean airlines originate.  Take in the variety and beauty of the diversity of peoples.  Before your eyes is a human rainbow.  The bright, vibrant color schemes of the airlines are a welcome change from the dull pastels of North American airlines.


Next Section:  Now, it is time to visit my favorite of *all* favorite Honduran cities, La Ceiba, Honduras (next section)  

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