Ceiba, Honduras, May 2004 – La Ceiba Carnaval
Jen Campbell and John Everette
Don’t expect La
Ceiba’s ruckus festival to be anything like what you would expect in the States.
Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day – this is not. Not to say that should be a
deterrent in the least.
Expect to be
bombarded by a uniquely Latin American party experience. Amidst the loudly
chattering, pulsing people, you will find whole animals being cooked in the
streets, strange forms of gambling, and your typical useless fair trinkets. For
your typical traveler, people watching can be an adventure in itself. You will
see all kinds here, from scantily clad women to the older generation wearing
traditional clothing. You may have trouble maneuvering through the city as the
street vendors’ assortment of t-shirts, shoes, cheeses, toys, toiletries, and
many other knick knacks overflow from the sidewalks into the streets. It is
quite a site … like nothing you would ever see in North America.
La Ceiba gives a
gringo traveler a realistic glimpse of Central American city life. One sees it
all here – poverty stricken areas, manicured city parks, a donkey pulling a cart
down a dirt road, retail shops selling caskets, and throbbing night clubs to
name a few of the things. The party itself was much tamer than we
had expected, but being able to experience Latin culture – music, costumes, and
dancing – was a treat.
Make sure to go to
the festival with hotel reservations, as getting a room upon arrival during
Carnaval is next to impossible. We arrived a day earlier than expected (two days
before the parade) and needed a room for one night – after being turned away
from several hotels, we finally found a room but it was stressful nonetheless.
We were relieved that we had made the remaining reservations for Carnaval ahead
If we could do it
over again, we would have spent the first night or two a little outside of La
Ceiba at the Jungle River Lodge. Ideally, we would have stayed the first night
at their lodge and then done the half day white water tour in the morning and
zipline in the afternoon. Then we could have stayed another night there or
headed into La Ceiba (about a 30 minute ride with transportation compliments of
Jungle River). Although we did not get to do the white water trip, we did do the
zipline tour which was fantastic. The parade did not start until about 1pm in
the afternoon, so there would have been plenty of time to get back to La Ceiba
on the day of the parade. Some guide books say that the real party is the night
before in one of the neighborhoods by the beach. I can not say I agree with that
– but I probably would opt to go ahead and get to La Ceiba the night before the
parade to experience more than one day of the Carnaval.
Jen Campbell appreciated sidewalkmystic.com as a planning
guide for her trip to Honduras and offers this article and photo on La Ceiba,
Honduras, as a 'share-back' to others. Thanks Jen and John for your time and
ideas for other travelers 'yet-to-be.'