Honduras

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We went back to the Americas this weekend for our next country, Honduras. This Central American country is neighbors with two other countries we’ve already visited, El Salvador and Guatemala, and also shares a border with one additional country, Nicaragua.

Unfortunately, Honduras is notorious for having one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Some Internet sources list it as the country with the highest homicide rate, but it seems that murder rates have gone down in recent years. But, of course, you can’t judge an entire country based on just statistics, so our mission this weekend was to learn what else makes Honduras the country it is.

Vaya pues! Okay! Let’s get started!

Like many Latin American countries, Honduran breakfast is often a hearty plate of eggs, beans, plantains, tortillas, salty white cheese and sour cream. We did this most recently for our Guatemalan globetrot, as well as for El Salvador. I love these plates, but I’ve always struggled with multitasking when it comes to preparing the different components: the beans may be getting cold as I cook the eggs, then the plantains, and oh shoot, I almost forgot the tortillas. We decided to go a slightly different route with Honduras by making baleadasa street food that can be eaten for breakfast. Baleadas are tortillas filled with beans and cheese, and sometimes other ingredients such as scrambled eggs and ground meat. Since we weren’t fussing with a six-component plate this time, Derek tried his hand at making flour tortillas, something we’ve never done in the past. (The refried beans, however, were from a can and reheated.)

Here’s an open baleada with refried beans, queso, and Honduran crema (which is similar to sour cream, but thinner and not as sour). Fold the tortilla over and eat! The homemade flour tortillas really made a difference:

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For an overview of the geography, random interesting facts and demographics of Honduras, we turned to the trusty Geography Now.

If the only thing you remember from this globetrot is “fishnado,” I can’t blame you.

For lunch, I made us resanbinsi, rice and beans with coconut milk, and tostones, sliced green plantains that are traditionally twice-fried, but I opted to bake them instead. The Honduran crema that we used on the baleadas made another appearance as a condiment for the tostones.

Unintentionally, this meal ended up being very similar to a meal I made way back when we were globetrotting in Belize, formerly known as British Honduras. (Honduras was once called Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras.) But when a vegetarian and her husband are eating their way through Latin America, I guess they’re going to end up eating a lot of rice and beans.

After lunch, we watched the Honduran episode of Barby’s Flag Friday, and then a Honduran tourism video, which seems to conveniently leave out footage of large cities, and sticks to more secluded settings and unspoiled nature.

Since it’s just about mid-semester, Derek had some grading to do in the afternoon, but he still took the time to make a yucca cake for dessert. When it came closer to dinnertime, he got to work on preparing Honduran enchiladas for us. When I think of enchiladas, I think of tortillas filled with cheese or meat, rolled up, and smothered in sauce. Honduran enchiladas are more like what I think of as tostadas, crisp tortillas topped with meat or beans, veggies and cheese. Our version used beans instead of meat, of course, and we also used a few toppings I haven’t eaten on tostadas, plantains and potato. This time we used store-bought corn tortillas, but the enchiladas were still very tasty.

In the evening, we watched El Espíritu de Mi Mamá (“The Spirit of My Mother”), a movie about Sonia, a single mother living in California, who returns to Honduras to fulfill a request of her deceased mother’s. The film is noteworthy for being the first fictional movie to cast Garifuna people (who are mixed-race descendants of African, Arawak and Carib Indian peoples from Central America) in leading roles.

We had some yucca cake after the movie. Condensed milk was used as an icing for the cake:

The next morning, we had more baleadas, before some chores for the week ahead. We reconvened at lunch for some rice and beans and tostones (the latter do not reheat very well).

We watched two videos in the afternoon that addressed violence in Honduras. The first piece was from Vice News, which follows Orlin Castro, a crime reporter in San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second largest city, on his shifts. Most of the violence in San Pedro Sula is gang and/or drug trafficking related–and being a journalist covering crime is a high-risk job. The second video was from Al Jazeera, which discusses the 2016 murder of Berta Caceres, a well-known Honduran environmental activist. At the time of her death, Caceres was attempting to stop a dam from being built on indigenous land. The Al Jazeera story raises the question of whether the government–and perhaps even foreign powers–was somehow involved in Caceres’ death. Caceres’ name actually appeared in the news just a few days ago, two years after her death: the man who had been president of the dam development company was just arrested for his alleged involvement in the activist’s murder.

Like in Haiti, the United States has played a big role in Honduras. Even if there wasn’t any American involvement in Caceres’ death, the U.S. has definitely been involved and continues to be involved in Honduras. Most foreign investment in Honduras is American. The U.S. has provided money for training and supplies for Honduran security forces. And drug trafficking in Honduras? Most of those drugs are en route to–you guessed it–the U.S. In other relatively recent news, the U.S. State Department recognized the re-election of Honduras president Juan Orlando Hernández last December, even though there were widespread allegations of fraud. It probably helped that Hernandez is known to be pro-U.S.

So, yes, things are not great in Honduras, and the U.S. has contributed to that.

Once I got off my soapbox, Derek and I snacked on yucca cake, and then later in the evening, we ate more enchiladas for dinner.

And so our Honduran weekend came to a close, with full bellies and a full fridge. In terms of regions, Central America just might be the area of the world we’ve covered the most so far, as we’ve now been to five of the seven countries, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Once we get to Nicaragua and Panama, we’ll have visited all of Central America. It’s been interesting to see similarities between the countries so far, from food, to social issues (e.g., gang violence, poverty and discrimination against indigenous peoples). Maybe we’ll be able to make more connections when we finish our Central American tour. But that won’t be for a while.

Adios! Next time, we’ll meet you in Hungary!

– Jess

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