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Honduras Food, Transportation, and Spanish Schools

[This Page - Restaurants and Food, Recipes for Honduras food, Accommodations, Transportation, and Spanish Schools]

Restaurants and Honduras Food

Dining Out - Step out a little and move beyond the recommendations that you have read about in all the Honduras travel books. How? A good place to start when looking for food is by walking the squares or plazas of Honduras, branching out, and looking for the places where locals are gathered.
If your Spanish is limited, you are always safe in ordering plato tipico. In Honduras, this typically consists of refried beans (red or black), crema, rice, a very salty piece of otherwise bland cheese, plantains (a fried sweet member of the banana family) and corn tortillas.
Plantains come prepared in different.  I always ask for maduros (mature) and they are the overly ripe ones you will see in the markets of Honduras.  Often, on the north coast, they are apt to serve them less ripe (verde).  On the islands, I saw kids walking around munching on boiled plantains.    
When in Tela, Ceiba or Roatan, the fresh fish is a must.  Don't be so interested in what kind of fish it is; merely asked for what was caught that morning.  Don't forget to try conch (pronounced 'konk' in English or caracol in Spanish).  We had a conch ceviche in Honduras that was out of this world.

Try the Beef
Beef on the mainland is good but the range-grazed steer is a tougher cut than at home.  For me, however, the taste is superior. If you get to La Ceiba, Ricardo’s is an excellent restaurant but be prepared to pay North American prices. Save room for dessert and the coffee is magnificent.

Avoid uncooked vegetables (particularly salads) and fruits that haven’t been peeled.
You have to have fresh pineapple for breakfast. Every day. One problem. You will never want to look at canned pineapple again.
(Note: In Honduran restaurants, a hostess does not seat you. Walk right up to the table you would like and sit down. Honduran restaurants are beginning to establish separate smoking areas.)
Shop the market and look for fresh melons and fruits.  Wash them thoroughly before cutting into them.  You probably won't find fresher produce any place on the planet.

Want to Try Your Own Honduran Food?

You can't be traveling the roads of Honduras or Central America 12 months a year.  So, when you have a craving for some delightful dishes, visit our Honduras recipe section and cook on!

◊ Drink theHonduras Bottled Water, San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Water?  Water is not safe to drink anywhere in Honduras. This goes for the ice as well. Ask for agua purificada – purified water. I always checked with the waitress to make sure it had been boiled. If it seemed dubious, I asked for agua de botella (bottled water, pronounced bo-tay-yah). You can find Aguazul bottled water almost anywhere in Honduras. Grab an extra bottle for the bus trip.

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Hotels

I am a bit fussy where my head rests at night. We typically paid $18-$45 per night, taxes and surcharges included, for a clean, safe hotel room. A room with shared bath facilities begins around $12; private baths (con baño privado) around $35 and up. At the high end of the price spectrum, exclusive resorts such as the Lodge at Pico Bonito will set you back $190-$225 per night.
Always ask if the rate includes taxes and surcharges.
Before entering the hotel, note where the street is. Ask for a room off the street. I have no qualms about not accepting an unsatisfactory room.
Make friends at the front desk. Hotel staff are indispensable when it comes to directions, places to visit away from the “tourist scene,” areas that are not safe in which to walk, suggested amounts for taxis costs, shops that have special items that you need, good local restaurants, bus routes, soccer events, etc.
Take answers from the front desk with a grain of salt. In our travels within Central America and Honduras was no exception; answers are always definitively provided even when surety doesn’t exist. A Honduran will always do the polite thing -- which is to give you an answer...even if the person doesn't know.  It is a cultural expectation and they aren't trying to trick you -- merely being polite.
 (Note: Honduras has two rates for hotels: the price for a Honduran and the price for a tourist. They are not “biting” you. This is a practice of dual rates. It is buried in your hotel bill so you aren’t aware of it.)

• Hotel/accommodation suggestions (criteria - moderately priced, clean, private bath).  I have stayed at these or recommend them based on good feedback from others:

Transportation

Airlines within Honduras - Before discussing Honduran airlines, let’s discuss your return flight home. In Honduras, you must reconfirm your return flight to Canada or the States. You can do that before you even leave the airport. ElsewSosa Let 410B, La Ceiba Airport, Honduras.here in the country, travel agents will charge you 100 lempiras to make that call for you.

 Frequently scheduled flights - Between Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and Roatan. Several airlines.
One flight per week between Roatan and Copan Ruinas with La Estanzuela Tours.
Less frequent - Utila, Guanaja, Trujillo, and parts of the Mosquitia.
Sosa Airlines, Isleña Airlines (TACA owned), and Atlantic Airlines all fly to different parts of the country. Be advised -- If you are booked into Honduras with a secondary destination, you will be flying a 36- or 48-passenger Isleña flight, not a TACA flight.
Our experience with Isleña was bad. They bumped us -- despite reservations and being 2nd in line; at first they provided no information and then misinformation. They were totally indifferent to us as customers. From my reading and discussions with others, our experience isn’t isolated. We also used Sosa and were very pleased.

More thoughts on Honduras airlines:
  Scheduled flights within Honduras are price-regulated, so there is no need to price shop. Schedules change often. Sosa Airlines has a site with a schedule of flights within Honduras. (Sale means departs; llega is arrives and dias are days of the week).
  Isleña/TACA does have a site that will give you an idea of frequency.
  Arrival and departure times are pretty loose. Carry a good paperback.
Keep ~$32 back (in $s or lempiras) to pay the exit tax when you leave Honduras. At the La Ceiba airport, they have added about a $2 tax when you fly out of the airport.
 

• Chicken Buses – To my delight, the standard-class buses in Honduras were better than Guatemala (well, anything would be) and Costa Rica. Chicken buses -- aged, transported North American school buses -- go everywhere and quite frequently. They are veryChicken_Bus_1st_Era inexpensive.

It is best to print out the routes and connections from San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa before you leave home (scroll to the bottom of the page for each city's schedule).  Keep in mind that these routes may change.   Other schedules throughout Central America are listed at this bus schedule site, from southern Mexico to Panama City.

San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa have numerous bus stations located throughout the cities. Be alert to which bus station you need.
When possible, find out if there is a directo (non-stop) bus. If there is, take it and be prepared to stop 14 times en-route anyways.
Easy on the liquids before bus rides. You may have a long wait.
Carry small lempira bills so change doesn’t become an issue.  Learned that one the hard way in Guatemala.
Honduras This Week has some good tips on busing in Honduras.

For the most current info on bus routes and schedules in the Western Highlands, suggest visiting Warren Post's site, Santa Rosa de Copan.

• First class busesHedman-Alas has routes which link San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Tegucigalpa, and Copan Ruinas -- with a connection through to Guatemala City for those venturing on. Here is Hedman's schedule.

Hedman offers excellent service. Most recently, Hedman has added a bus that leaves from the San Pedro Sula airport to the downtown office.  All their buses have on-board toilet. Hedman has its own separate bus stations in very secure areas.
Note: As a foreigner, your ticket price is more than the posted price in the Hedman station (posted rate is a price for citizens). Other buses have the same price for tourists and Hondurans.

• Ferries - Ferries run daily from La Ceiba to Utila and Roatan (Guanaja once a week). The port is located a few miles east of Ceiba. The trip to Roatan takes about 1.5 hours and runs around $10. For those prone to motion sickness, the ride from the islands back to La Ceiba is gentler. The ferry leaves in the a.m. for Utila and at 1.45 pm and 4.15 pm for Roatan.  Always check the Honduras Tips magazine (available throughout the country) for current times.

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Speaking Spanish
There is no getting around that speaking Spanish will make your vacation richer and easier. Earlier I listed an itinerary for those who don't speak Spanish. That specific tour provides a vast exposure to different areas and cultures of Honduras while not putting the non-Spanish speaker into too many jams (expect some - learn to enjoy them when they do arrive).

Honduras has many schools to learn Spanish immersion style. Years ago, I 'dove into' this approach in Guatemala for 4 weeks. Our instruction was one-on-one which is superior to group instruction. After four weeks, I came home functionally conversant in Spanish (and a bit brain-dead as well). It was a phenomenal experience and has served me well ever since.

Honduras offers the advantage of being less expensive than other Central American countries. Additionally, with fewer English speaking tourists in Honduras, you are less tempted to revert to your first language after class.

I visited four Spanish schools and can recommend the first two just based on first impressions and the interactions I had with staff.
 Our Little Roses in San Pedro Sula, where they can tailor study depending upon your profession.
 Ixbalanque in Copan Ruinas (see a Summer 2005 visitor's laudatory comments in the right column above)
 Central American Spanish Schools in La Ceiba/Utila/Roatan/Copan Ruinas (I visited the La Ceiba school)
 Centro Internacional de Idiomas in La Ceiba/Bay Islands
•  Mango Spanish School in Tela (not visited)
  Conversa in Tegucigalpa (not visited)
and several others in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa.

If you choose to study, I encourage you to do one-on-one rather than classroom. Also, try and go in months other than June, July, and August. Schools are stretched due to enrollment during the summer and your instructor might be an "add-on" rather than a regular. You will pay about $225 per week for 4 hours of instruction and room and board with a local family. By all means, consider it a good investment of your time and money.

I would appreciate your  on any Spanish language immersion programs that you have attended in Honduras and how it went for you.

Internet Connections

High speed internet connections are available at cyber cafes throughout Honduras.  Ask at your hotel's front desk for the cafes with the fastest (DSL) connection.  The Ceiba area has the best speeds at the most reasonable price if you need to do more significant internet connecting.

Next Section: Money issues can always be perplexing. Let's see if we can make Honduras money easier for you. 


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Thoughts on studying Spanish in Honduras from Stacey H, a Summer 2005 visitor:

"Thanks for your website, Dave.     

Spent 2 weeks this summer studying in Copán Ruinas at the Ixbalanque school and had a wonderful experience.  The school directors, Kathea and Amadea, are helpful and wonderful and the instructors thorough and interesting, and the school experience includes visits to surrounding areas, in my case a village on the Guatemala border to watch pottery being made, a visit through mountain villages to a hot springs, and another trip to a new health clinic in a neighboring village. 

Copán is a wonderful area to explore and to practice - not many English speakers there!  I also had a positive home stay experience." Read entire account on Copan Ruinas from Stacey.
 

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