Guatemala: Friendly Faces

GUATEMALA CITY has the quiet air of a village grown over-large. The narrow streets, paved in concrete with high, red-painted curbs, struggle to cope with the mass of traffic. The sidewalks are narrow and shops spill out onto them, with black-clad armed guards a presence in many. Sun-faded paint covers walls that are broken up with iron-barred windows and bursts of political graffiti.

The city market is crammed with a mass of colours: the bright indigenous fabrics the country is famous for, and shiny fresh fruit and vegetables. Men meet and part with a gentle open palm slap and fist bump. Stoic faces break into a friendly smile at the slightest provocation.

“The city is Guatemala’s fourth capital, after a massive earthquake in 1773 laid waste to the previous one, Antigua Guatemala,” says Miguel Alvarez at the National History Museum. “At that time, the capital governed a territory that covered most of modern Central America. The new city’s location made it the perfect place to guard the main route down the Central American peninsular from New Spain (Mexico) to Peru, as well as being within easy access of the Atlantic coastline along the rivers that flowed north. That was the same reason the Mayan established themselves here, with the extra attraction of rich deposits of obsidian and jade nearby. Obsidian was used for tools, while jade was reserved for royalty; it was the Maya gold.”

When I ask him what is his favourite piece in the museum, he walks off to bring me an exquisite gold-plated silver chalice of 1560, made by Spanish artisan Lorenz de Medina. “The borders of modern Guatemala were drawn by the Conquistadors,” he says. “They were arbitrary, following rivers or other geographical features. The Maya region was present-day Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica. We had more than 30 Mayan languages and the Maya cities were fighting each other over control of the commercial routes. The best thing the Spanish did was to bring the Spanish language and unite us. They did not destroy Maya culture; they just drove it underground.”

The most obvious reminder of Guatemala City’s Spanish history is found in its central plaza, dominated by the twin towers of the Metropolitan Cathedral. Inside the church, vast pillars reveal an obvious strength that is more impressive than its looks, despite the many ornate altars, dark wood statues and rich side chapels. It is no surprise to hear it has withstood numerous earthquakes. Outside, a series of tall pillars is carved with the names of thousands of those who were killed, tortured or “disappeared” during Guatemala’s 36-year Civil War. More than 200,000 people, 80 per cent of them Maya, were killed in a war that lasted from 1960 to 1996, with the government responsible for the vast majority of deaths.

A visit to Kaminaljuyú, a once-great Maya city now buried by the modern one, shows how their culture survives. The archaeological park has a small but impressive acropolis covered in ramshackle sheeting and some other grass-covered remains. Then, in heavy rain, I spot a series of round altars under some trees in a remote corner. On one, a street hawker is making offerings for better trade and, when he asks who I am, adds a long series of prayers for my future safe travels.

I feel as if I need some of that credit with the ancient gods when I take the anarchic road to Antigua, which climbs through the neighbouring city of Mixco, now effectively absorbed into Guatemala City itself. Shops are crammed together by the roadside behind narrow sidewalks, offering the bright Chinese plastic and cheap clothing that mark poor areas worldwide. There are more tyre shops than seems economically feasible, while suicidal motorbikers and tuk-tuks fight for road space.

We speed past the ubiquitous Central American camionetas, recycled from former American school buses. The familiar yellow paintwork has been replaced with all the colours of the rainbow and their sides bear names such as “Carmalita”, “Esmeralda” or “Jesus Es Dios”. “The buses are painted different colours because a lot of people can’t read,” says my Guatemala friend, writer and historian Norman Raxon. “Illiteracy is around 60 per cent in rural areas as education is in Spanish, not Mayan languages.”

They have “Speedy Gonzales” mud flaps and belch smoke from engines that throb with a Detroit beat I can feel in my chest. A conductor hangs from the open door, urging passengers aboard. “We call him a “brocha” or paint-brush because his hand flaps up and down to call you,” says Norman. The brocha jumps down before the camioneta stops to hoist sacks and bags onto the roof, bringing the clichéd Central American souvenir “chicken bus” to life.

The road descends into the shadow of four volcanoes, one active enough to be sending a puff of smoke high into the cloudy sky. Antigua’s cobbled streets are teeth-achingly rough but very much part of the town’s character. It retains its handsome colonial one-story buildings that spread away on all sides down narrow streets.

“A lot of people who visit go home, sell everything and move here to stay,” says Norman. Ninett de Córdova, originally from Guatemala City, is one, having settled here to manage a boutique hotel. Maison de la Luz, like several other upmarket hotels in the town, is stylishly converted from a former colonial house. “I loved Antigua when I visited and, now that now I live here, I love it even more,” she says. “Younger people like the bars and clubs but I enjoy just walking around appreciating the atmosphere. It is very relaxed and you feel safe, which you do not always do in Guatemala City, like any big city. The people are pure-hearted.

“I also love the colours; the colours of the walls and of the women in the market. Their clothes are rich and intense, with the sort of palette you would never find in a shop. Then there are the smells, like in Holy Week when the roads are carpeted with pictures made from flowers or sawdust. When the procession goes by, the aroma that rises is amazing.”

The town’s people are as much part of its appeal as anything else. They smile easily and are happy to draw me into their life. When I show interest in a school, I am invited to watch morning assembly, when white-gloved students earnestly carry the national flag to the stage as all sing the country’s and school’s anthems. In the evening, the central plaza is filled with more students studying under streetlights and a group of youths practicing hip hop moves with great athleticism. All are friendly and happy to chat.

The evening light smooths out the town’s ruins, some dating to the 1773 earthquake, to show it at its best. “The town has been recognized by Unesco, so there are a lot of rules to preserve it,” says Ninett. “There are six or eight colours that you can paint your house and you will have to repaint it if you use the wrong one. That happened to my poor neighbour.”

From Antigua, the road west climbs steeply again. Huddling together against the merciless traffic, a group of racing cyclists attack the steep incline, heads down but keeping up a punishing pace. Then the road passes into rolling open countryside where over-large groups of workers harvest carrots by hand into plastic bags that are stacked high into pick-up trucks. Patches of flatter land appear, then hills again in a landscape where stands of spindly trees hint at what once was.

Suddenly, the land bursts into life, even greener and more fertile than before: more like English parkland than a volcanic landscape. Just off the main road is the modern Maya town of Tecpan, a place that makes me wonder why anyone would live there. A grid of narrow streets is lined with tiny one-room shops that give the impression the inhabitants make a precarious living selling basic food and clothing to each other.

One of its reasons for existence is the Iximche archaeological site where a few scenic ruins hint at the grandeur of Maya culture at its height. The pyramid bases of some temples and the remains of two ballcourts stand out in the grass that softens the outlines of the former city. Despite the lack of grand structures, there is a definite air of history hanging over the sprawling site. Once again, I find a set of Maya altars in a tree-shaded spot where the incense hangs heavy and the prayer is intense.

“This was the first Spanish capital,” says Norman. “In 1524, its Maya rulers allied themselves with the Spanish Conquistadors whose Aztec allies called it Guatemala, so it has given its name to the whole country. The Spanish later had to move the capital to Ciudad Vieja because of on-going resistance.” They chose a safer site in a nearby valley but that capital was in its turn destroyed by the mudslide from a volcanic eruption in 1541, leading to the move to Antigua.

A mudslide seems a very real risk as the road rises again towards Chichicastenango. It climbs through almost sheer embankments carved into the hillside. Signs warn drivers to “Frene Con Motor” and of “Curvas Peligrosas”. Billboards advertise fried chicken, prosperous politicians, steel roofing and English classes. More tire shops sell well-worn, second-hand rubber.

There are massive stacks of firewood for sale, then piles of concrete blocks for house building. Rainwater cascades down the roadside and backs up into a gully. We pass a jumble of half finished concrete houses thrown on top of each other. Wood smoke hangs over rusty tin roofs, while neatly turned-out school children wait for the bus. Mist hangs in the trees with, in the distance, the cloud-capped cone of a volcano. The beauty of the landscape alternates with the ugliness of urban poverty.

Chichicastenango is almost impossibly picturesque, with a colourful market built around a church that in its turn stands atop a Maya pyramid. The steep steps of the pyramid are filled with women in traditional clothes selling vegetables while a Maya priest throws candles and seeds on an altar, then waves smoke over it from a rusty perforated tin burner. Inside, the nave is filled with similar shrines, each lit with many candles at which worshippers pray with marked devotion. Christianity and a much older religion blur in a cloud of incense.

In the market, packed with stalls selling Maya cloth in rich colours, I meet Elena Guit and Alfonso Coc, a married couple in their 40s with seven children. They have worked 20 years in the market but complain about competition from cheap imports that undercut the handmade fabrics they sell. They buy shawls for around $14 around Lake Atitlán and sell them for $15. Most of their customers are local women, a sign of how the tourists who do make it here have yet to affect its authenticity.

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Plunging 340 metres, Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America and has been compared to Italy’s Lake Como for beauty. On an overcast day, admittedly also common in Northern Italy, that description is a bit of a stretch but it is certainly a dramatic sight as the road winds down to it. A boat trip across the lake to Santiago Atitlán reveals more of its charm, with heavily wooded shores and dramatic glimpses of cloud-wrapped volcanic peaks.

The Maya people here wear more subdued colours than in Chichicastenango, with the men sporting cowboy hats and rubber boots, a form of dress that reflects the number of men who go to Texas to find work. “The economic situation in Guatemala makes life hard for women so we decided to start this project to make some money for our family and our kids,” says Maria Francisca Hernandez, who is president of the Heart of the Lake Community Association, a weaving co-operative of 33 women.

“Anyone can join as long as they work hard. We weave at home because we have to take care of the family, cook and look after the house. When we sell anything, 90 per cent goes to the woman who makes it, while the rest goes to pay taxes and the running costs of the shops, marketing and so on. Our men work in the corn and coffee fields and make about $4 a day. That’s not enough to live on.”

She tells me their biggest problem is finding customers. “We produce a lot of goods but don’t have the people to buy it,” she says. “We need good roads first, so we can get out to market, and also a university so our children do not have to travel to Guatemala City. University costs about $60 a month and that takes too much of our income. We want to study but it is difficult when it costs so much.”

The road back to Guatemala City takes me past Pacaya Volcano and I climb its 2,500-metre summit to take in the view and the experience of flirting with danger. The smell of sulphur wafts from gaps in the earth that give forth steam and enough heat to toast marshmallows. Near the summit stands an unlikely craft shop selling exquisite jewellery.

“People don’t understand what a store is doing next to an active volcano but that is what makes it unique,” says owner David Flores, who was born in California but has come back here to embrace his Guatemalan roots. “The shop was inspired by an eruption in 2010, after which a group of artists decided to do something to help those people affected. We recycle the lava stone that fell into the pieces we produce, which are all hand-made. The proceeds help educate Maya children.”

I ask him why people live so close to a volcano that could erupt at any moment. “They have owned their land here for hundreds of years but the volcano did not become active until the 1960s,” he says. “Their cows used to graze here where you see the lava field. They are not going anywhere.”

His love for the land of his ancestors is evident and I ask him what it is that makes it so special. “I feel so much warmth here,” he says. “It is a country that has so much tradition and is so authentic. You have the Caribbean, the Atlantic, the culture, the Maya ruins and Spanish colonial history. It is a hidden treasure. The downside is that it is a country still trying to find an identity for itself. It is still coming out of its legacy of internal warfare but the potential is incredible.”

David comes up the volcano at 6am and leaves at around 5.30pm in high season. The store has moved about four times as the volcano erupts. “We get some warning of when it will erupt but they cannot gauge how large it will be,” he says. “I’ve witnessed a few things most people wouldn’t see but you gain lots of respect for the volcano. It gives you enough time to evacuate.”

In Guatemala, it seems that even the volcanoes are friendly.

Cayman Islands: Lion Hunting

“WE WATCHED them coming through the Bahamas, which they just devastated,” she says. “They lay 25,000 eggs every four days and have no predators here. They will literally eat everything on the reef.”

I am sitting on a shady terrace in the Cayman Islands, watching the sun ripple off the Caribbean and sipping a fruit punch, while Nancy Easterbrook tells me about the threat to local coral reefs from the invasive lionfish. She is a dynamic bundle of energy who, with her husband, runs local diving company Divetech and their livelihood depends on preserving some of the best diving in the Caribbean. Continue reading “Cayman Islands: Lion Hunting”

Panama: Canal Zone

THE TRUCK, belching black diesel smoke, slithers and slides as it struggles up the steep incline of the wet road. It is not much of a road, although it used to be once, sure. Then the weather and the jungle got at it, patiently aiming to outlast it. Now this stretch is a collection of potholes stitched together with some tar, tiptoeing past dramatic gullies washed away by landslips.

Continue reading “Panama: Canal Zone”

Dominican Republic: All Inclusive

I AM sitting with “una fria” – an ice-cold Presidente beer – taking a rest from a sweaty session of merengue in an open-air restaurant. Around me, couples are enjoying the evening cool, chatting and dancing to the over-amplified sounds of a CD player, while behind me their cars are being restored to a showroom gleam by a team of rubber-booted workers. I am, of course, at the car wash.

That even a car wash is an excuse to enjoy a night out may be all you need to know about the Dominican Republic. Rather than being attached to a gas station, as is the norm in so many – dare I say? – other duller countries, here they come with a bar, restaurant and dance floor. Some customers eat: I have just enjoyed a popular local dish, “La Bandera Dominicana” – the Dominican Flag – a tricolor of stewed beans, white rice and meat. Others passionately follow baseball, the national sport, on a flickering TV screen. But most are grinding hips to the sultry sounds of merengue.

Blasted out on taxi stereos, playing from roadside bars and rising and falling in doppler-effect volume as a party bus goes by, the beat of merengue and bachata, its slower Country-style cousin, has followed me everywhere in the Dominican Republic. The constant soundtrack makes life in this Caribbean tourism paradise seem like one continual party.

“We are brought up on music,” says Jorge, a businessmen at the next table, who is as friendly as every other Dominican I meet. “We hear it in our mother’s arms when we are children, and in school we learn by singing together. We are a musical people. When we go out with a woman, we dance merengue with them and you know you have the right one when you click on the dance floor. Merengue is in our blood.”

It is on the dance floor that I get the real flavor of the Dominican Republic. Going from club to club and from bar to bar is to hear and see its story in music. Merengue is still the dance for respectable professionals, him in a pressed shirt and her in a pretty frock. Bachata is a slower, sexier form – bedroom action in a vertical form and much loved by courting couples. The younger crowd dance reggaeton, an offspring of Jamaican reggae, with an urban style that borrows attitude from hip hop – tuneful Spanish rap.

Fans of it and the homegrown “Rap del Patio” wear baggy jeans, designer-label sneakers and oversize baseball caps, while its lyrics of gangs, drugs and oppression strike a chord with the country’s youth, reflecting the tough life in the shantytowns – or life in economic exile in the inner cities of the US. “They follow basketball, rather than baseball,” says Manolo Diaz, a young teacher I meet in a bar. “Their whole style is borrowed from African-American culture. We call them ‘Yos’ or ‘Yolkies’ which comes from the name ‘Dominican York’ for all the Dominicans in New York.”

That turns out to be a sore point in a country where even the darkest-skinned Dominican claims Indian or Latin, not African, roots, even though 75 per cent of the genes here are from West Africa. One reason is the tension with Haiti, which shares a third of the island of Hispaniola. The poverty-stricken former French colony contrasts sharply with this Spanish-speaking part of the island and there is a history of war and mass killings on both sides during the struggles for slave freedom and beyond. The Dominican Republic’s annual carnival – as well as a religious pre-Lenten festival – is also a celebration of independence from Haiti on 27 February 1844.

Carnival takes over the whole island – as it does most of the Latin American Caribbean region – every February. It is a major event in the cultural center of Santiago and many other towns, with La Vega especially noted for its “Carnaval Vegano” held every Sunday during the month. La Vega is partying hard as I squeeze through the welcoming crowds who line the streets while the pre-carnival parade of church groups, bands and cheerleaders make their way around the center.

Once the main event gets underway, I am at first overwhelmed by the mix of colorful costumes, masks and loud music, but I soon start to understand that there are several distinct groups here too. Most wear bright, bulky padded costumes and large, eye-bulging devil masks – competing against each other in style imagination. But darting among them are dancers more simply dressed just in a swimsuit but covered from head to toe in mud, and others in what looks like used black engine oil. It turns out that is exactly what it is.

“Those are Africans – ‘Los Tiznaos’ or ‘The Stained Ones’“, says local historian Carlos Romero. “They are from Santo Domingo and the Mudmen are from Bonao. If you don’t pay them a fine, they may rub against you and ruin your clothes. It’s a way of raising money to pay for the other costumes. These are poor people and the costumes for each neighborhood group, or ‘comparsa’ cost a lot. There are about a dozen or so people in each of comparsa and they practice for weeks, if not months. Many have been together for years.

While everyone is friendly, and the Tiznaos leave me alone, Carlos does have one other warning: “Watch out for the ‘Vejiga’, too – that’s an inflated animal bladder or balloon that the devils hit you with. They especially love to whack girls on the backside. It brings good luck – they say. Their original job was to clear people out of the way so the parade could get through.”

The “Diablo Cojuelo” or “limping devil” reflects the religious roots of carnival, and a similar character is described in the novel “Don Quijote” by Miguel de Cervantes. “He limps because he hurt his leg falling to earth after being banished from heaven because of his mischief,” says Carlos. The holy origins may also explain the lack of women in revealing costumes so dominant in other carnivals such as Rio’s – although the spectators make up for it. The extreme heat of the day means clothes are often at a bare minimum and, no matter their roots or, indeed, because of their varied ethnic make-up, the country boasts many strikingly beautiful people. It is sometimes hard to keep my eyes on the parade.

Anyway, where are we? Oh, yes, devil masks. “It takes one week to make a mask from start to finish,” says noted maker Melvin Marte Almonte, who Carlos takes me to meet in the cramped La Vega workshop that he founded in 1994. “The designs are changed every year by the group leaders and I work together with them to finalize a design. It costs several hundred dollars for the most expensive and I work for six months to make 300 for each carnival.”

The masks are built up with a papier mâché and acrylic polymer base for lightness, formed on a clay mold. Teeth are made from fibreglass and the whole is spray painted in bright colors to match the costume. Originally, horns and skulls from local abattoirs were the foundation of the masks, and you can see still that influence in the devil-like features. When I try one on, it is surprisingly light, which is not to say I would enjoy wearing one with a thick padded costume all day in blazing heat.

Carnival goes on until after dark and the partying even later, when there is little difference between bars and the streets in terms of people drinking and socializing. The seat of a parked scooter serves as a bar to rest beer bottles on for a group who beckon me over to join them with the usual question: “What do you think of the Dominican Republic?” I give the only possibly reply, but also a truthful one: “Su país es muy hermoso – it is beautiful!” I resist saying another thought: that it is very like Cuba – only with better food. The beautiful Caribbean scenery of sunny golden beaches backed by bright green hills, and the intoxicating mix of sexy music and handsome people make for a familiar seductive setting.

The biggest difference between the two countries, of course, is the freedom to come and go. That translates into a much freer atmosphere, a feeling that no one is holding anything back, whether in political conversation or on the dance floor. In a nightclub, as the clock ticks past midnight and far beyond, the music grows louder and louder, and the dancing becomes raunchier and raunchier. Merengue gives way to reggaeton and I learn where the latter gets its Spanish nickname from – “perreo” or “doggie” – as the girls gyrate.

This undertone of sensuality means that, despite its many other attractions, many visitors do come to take advantage of – or abuse – the sexual freedom. It is sadly all too common for both male and female tourists to pick-up a local companion for a two-week holiday, or longer. “A ‘sanky-panky‘ is our local name for the guys who prey on foreign women,” says Manolo. “They seduce them with soft words and charm in the hope of building a financial relationship when they return home. They empty bank accounts and break hearts, while aiming for the golden prize: a marriage visa. Still, with so much poverty on one side and blind optimism on the other, it is hard to say who is exploiting whom. Many of the women know exactly what they want when they come here: the same thing men have been after for years.”

Where there is demand, there is supply and one surprising feature of this Catholic country is the “cabanas”. Looking like gaudy motels, they line certain streets on the edge of town and offer anonymous rooms by the hour for couples who need privacy. In a country where young people live at home until they get married, and even married couples need some privacy from large families, they serve a useful role. “You drive your car into the garage and the door shuts behind you,” says Manolo, who notes that their seedy reputation means no Dominican woman would ever admit to having seen the inside of one. “You can go straight into the room from the garage. There is a small hatch that the manager takes payment through – most people use cash – and deliver meals or anything else you might order, such as ‘adult needs’. The important thing is that no one need ever see your face and even your car is hidden from passers-by.”

That is a big consideration in a country where life really is lived in public. When I explore the rich colonial history of the capital Santa Domingo, the oldest city in the Americas, I find its streets even more interesting. Life spills out of doorways, drivers block roads for a casual chat and sidewalks are thronged. Hawkers make their way through the crowds or besiege drivers at stoplights offering an incredible range of goods – I see everything from cell-phone chargers and lottery tickets to sugarcane and puppy dogs for sale. One man offers me bottles of what looks like muddy water, filled with sticks. This is mamajuana, which is called the “Dominican Viagra”. Made from a base of rum and honey, with various other medicinal ingredients such as herbs and bark, it is based on ancient Taino Indian remedies. A shot can cure colds, cleanse the blood and liver, ease stomach ailments… well, you get the idea. And, of course, its nickname of “el para palo” comes from its reputation for helping men “lift wood”. I imagine the cabanas do a roaring trade in it.

I can’t bring myself to try it but there is another local drink much more to my taste. Morir Soñando – “to die dreaming” – is made from milk and fresh orange juice. This seemingly odd mixture is instantly refreshing and addictive when served mixed with ice on a hot day – the ice stops the acid in the OJ from curdling the milk. Its fresh ingredients and the varied local cuisine are a reminder of the agricultural wealth of the country. While well known for its beaches, golf courses and glorious colonial architecture – Santo Domingo was the first Spanish city in the Americas – the fertile interior is less explored by visitors. A satellite image makes the contrast with Haiti even starker: its side of the border is treeless and eroded while the Dominican landscape is densely wooded and green. An exciting whitewater rafting adventure at Jarabacoa on the Rio Yaque, one of the longest rivers in the Caribbean, gives me an unconscious lesson in one major underlying reason for the difference: water.

The rain-bearing winds here come from the east, dumping water sucked up from the Atlantic on the Dominican Republic, while the Caribbean’s highest mountains shelter the western third of Hispaniola: Haiti. The rain falling in the mountains, which rise to more than 3,000 meters, also runs back down into the Dominican side, as I am discovering as the river throws me about forcefully. We pull hard through a series of plunging rapids that catch the boat behind us, spilling its crew into the foaming water to be hauled aboard our raft like floundering fish.

This power in its rivers has been harnessed for hydro-electricity, while Haitians still cut down trees to make charcoal for fuel. Truly, the Dominican Republic has been blessed by nature, a point made even more forcefully when I visit a farm to see how the rich soil throws up equally rich cacao beans. These are dried and crushed in a long process before the addition of sugar releases the chocolate flavor we are all so familiar with. The country is better known for another bean – coffee – as well as exporting bananas, rice and coconuts, among much other produce. Its two largest crops, however, are sugarcane, of which it is the Caribbean’s second-largest producer – after Cuba, of course – and tobacco.

The Dominican cigar industry is a prime example of the shadows of Cuba that I keep seeing. Seeds, skills and even the names of Cuban cigars have taken root in a new homeland. Now rivaling the originals in popularity, makers such as Pepe Garcia – who owned the H. Upmann and Montecristo brands – fled the Castro regime to found Tabacalera de Garcia in 1971 in La Romana. It is now the largest handmade cigar factory in the world and a tour reveals just how much skill and work goes into producing one.

Vice-president Jose A. Seijas tells me that his company has spent many years in litigation with the Cuban government of Cuba to establish their rights to the brand names but an uneasy truce has ruled since the 1990s. “It will be interesting to see what happens when Cuban exports open up after the American embargo is lifted, as it no doubt will in due course,” he says. “Meantime, we are starting to go our own way. In the 1960s, we were blending something that tasted like a Cuban cigar – and we score 50/50 in blind tastes. Cigar smokers could not really tell us apart. But now we are presenting the option of a different taste, a true Dominican flavor.”

Such self-confidence is well deserved in a country that has so much to offer and a remark of his also sums up for me what the Dominican Republic is all about. “Cigar smokers are a special breed,” he says. “They taste the tobacco; they do not smoke, they do not inhale. Good food, good wine, good cigars – we are all about relaxing and enjoying life.”

 

Honduras: Treasures Island

MOST VISITORS to Roatan arrive in the cruise port of Coxen Hole, a rather unfortunate name for a fairly unprepossessing dock, dominated by chain-link fences and swarms of tour buses.

Things improve the further you get from the harbour, and that’s something (with no disrespect to the quirky Afro-antillean charms of Coxen Hole) that’s true of the whole island. Continue reading “Honduras: Treasures Island”