What's New in Honduras
Two Capital Museums
Tegucigalpa has seen the opening of two new world-class museums, and both make phenomenal additions to the list of things to see in the capital. The fun Chiminike, on the south side of the city, is an interactive museum for kids, but we think adults will appreciate its quirky exhibits, too. (The museum takes its name from a character in a Honduran children's story.) The downtown Museo Para La Identidad Nacional, in a restored 19th century building, does an excellent job of conveying what its name (the Museum for National Identity) says it will, and is a must for anybody even marginally interested in Honduran history.
Honduras enacted tough new no-smoking laws in June 2010. Lighting up is prohibited in all indoor areas of businesses, including offices, stores, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.
The Mayan Calendar
Who would have thought a millennia-old calendar would become one of the world's hottest pop-culture properties? The intricate Maya long-count calendar comes to an abrupt end on December 21, 2012. (The calendar had a good 5,126-year run, having calculated the beginning of the world to be our August 11, 3114 BC.) Will the gods grant another cycle? Many visitors have already made reservations for that date to be on hand at Copán to see for themselves what might happen. Expect lodging rates to go sky-high for the holiday season in 2012.
Roatán, in the Bay Islands, opened a new cruise port on the southwest coast of the island in 2010. The venture was financed by Carnival Cruises, which hosts several other cruise companies at the facility. It's the ultimate in "self-contained," and if you prefer, there's no reason to ever leave the facility, although not everyone likes the fact that it provides little contact with the real Honduras.
The Caribbean coast near Tela is slated for major resort development in coming years. The project has been on the drawing board for decades, and some have touted this as Honduras's answer to Cancún. A rollercoaster economy—most recently it's been the 2008 collapse of the world's financial markets and the 2009 political crisis—has put the brakes on the project several times through the years. With an upswing in the economy again, you may see things start up in the next couple of years. The project is certain to change the face of the coast near Tela, making this one "What's new" development that not everybody is thrilled about. We'll leave the verdict to you.
Better Times Post-2009
Honduras experienced an old-fashioned, cart-the-president-off-to-exile, Latin American military coup in June 2009. The commotion of the aftermath went on for months and dried up investment and tourism. Most realize now that the news footage beamed to the outside world presented a lot worse picture than anything that actually took place on the ground, and the tourists who were here during that time reported no disruption to their routines. A new president was elected in November of that year—that's when elections were scheduled to take place as it was—and the situation returned to normal. As things pick up again and visitors return, everyone seems relieved to put the events of 2009 behind them.