Honduras

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!

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Haiti

Haiti, our next country, has gotten a lot of mention in the U.S. news lately. The President has made derogatory remarks about the Caribbean nation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently decided to end Temporary Protected Status for thousands of Haitian immigrants who have legally been in the U.S. since a devastating earthquake struck their home country in 2010. (2010 may seem like a long time ago, enough time for a country to recover from an earthquake, but Haiti has also been struck by a cholera epidemic introduced by foreign aid workers, and by a hurricane in 2016.)

While Haiti is a country with serious problems, dismissing it like the President did would just be ignorant. Let’s be better than that.

Some other notable things about Haiti: it shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with another country we’ve globetrotted to, the Dominican Republic. It was the first independent nation in Latin America and Caribbean, the second republic in the Americas, and can even be considered the first African republic because even though Haiti is not in Africa, about 95 percent of the population is of African descent. While there are many creole languages in the world, Haitian Creole is one of the few that has official language status (French is also an official language of Haiti). And now you and I may already know more about Haiti than the American president, but there’s still more to cover.

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Guyana

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Welcome to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America! This was not our first visit to the continent’s northeastern coast, where Guyana (once known as British Guiana) is followed to the east by Suriname (once Dutch Guiana), French Guiana (still a part of France), and the state of Amapá (once Portuguese Guiana) in Brazil. To the west is the Guiana region of Venezuela (once Spanish Guiana). Whew! One of the most fascinating lessons of our weekend adventure was that Guyana might well be called Indian Guiana, too, with almost 45 percent of the population being of South Asian descent. With cultural influences from Africa, Europe, Asia, and (of course) the Americas, we were excited to learn more about what holds this small country together and makes it special.

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Guatemala

Muchá! Hey, everyone! This weekend finds us in the Central American country of Guatemala, Mexico’s southern neighbor. The country also shares borders with two countries we’ve already globetrotted to, Belize and El Salvador, plus a country we’ll likely get to before too long, Honduras.

Like in Belize, the Maya civilization once flourished in Guatemala, and there are numerous well-known Maya ruins that tourists can visit today. Many Guatemalans are of Maya ancestry. Although Spanish is the official language, twenty-one Mayan languages are spoken in the country. So while the Maya Empire may have fallen, as many people learned in school, the Maya people and their culture are still very much alive.

Vonós–let’s go!

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Grenada

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Greetings from Grenada, a small island nation located off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. Having been the home of native Arawak and Carib peoples, followed by a succession of French and British colonial overlords, who brought with them African slaves and indentured [east] Indian laborers, Grenada is today a diverse society whose culture and cuisine we were keen to explore. Continue reading

El Salvador

Hola! This weekend found us in Latin America once again, this time in El Salvador, the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. The country tends to have a bad reputation for being a dangerous and violent place, but I don’t think we’re being Pollyannas by believing that there are good things about El Salvador, its people and culture, that don’t get as much attention.

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Ecuador

Hola! This weekend found us in the Americas again, in our first “E” country, Ecuador. Even though the country is a neighbor of Peru, a country that my family has ties to, I didn’t know much about Ecuador, except that it grows a lot of bananas.

Ecuador is in the northwestern part of the South American continent, and as you may have already guessed from its name, it’s at the equator (“Ecuador” is Spanish for “equator”). And as we were finding recipes and grocery shopping, it became pretty evident that this small country (roughly the size of the state of Colorado) has more than just bananas. While not everything in the picture below was made in Ecuador or with Ecuadorian ingredients, this is just some of what we bought for our recipes this weekend.

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VámanosLet’s go!

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Dominican Republic

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Hola and feliz año nuevo from the Dominican Republic! This New Year’s weekend brought us from the tiny Commonwealth of Dominica (population 73,000) to its much larger neighbor, the Dominican Republic (population 10.4 million). The two island nations sit about a thousand kilometers apart in the Caribbean Sea. The Dominican Republic is not alone, however, as it shares the vast island of Hispaniola with the nation of Haiti. Continue reading

Dominica

If you’re like me, you probably first pronounced the name of this next country with the stress on the second syllable, like “Dominican Republic,” minus the final “n” in the first word and “Republic”. But that’s not correct. The correct pronunciation is more like the girl’s name Dominique, with an added “uh” sound at the end.

Dominica is a tiny island nation in the Caribbean, and a former French-then British colony. It isn’t related to the larger, Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic. Both people from Dominica and the Dominican Republic identify as Dominicans, but again, there’s the difference in pronunciation and stress.

Compared to other islands in the Caribbean, Dominica isn’t as big a tourist destination, which probably explains why it’s not as well known. But even though Dominica may be a bit more obscure, Derek and I were determined to give this globetrot our best efforts.

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Cuba

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¡Hola, amigos! Our second globetrot from Buffalo brought us to the Republic of Cuba, which occupies the largest island in the Caribbean Sea. Last year, the United States restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in several decades, and while we weren’t planning to visit in person, we were excited to learn as much as we could about our mysterious neighbor to the south. We still weren’t sure whether our new city would offer as many opportunities for us to explore international cultures, but once again (as with Croatia), we were in for a pleasant surprise. Continue reading