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Trip Report. Honduras Travel Part 1: Intro., and Colonial Comayagua February 2023.

Trip Report. Honduras Travel Part 1: Intro., and Colonial Comayagua February 2023.

Old Mar 9th, 2023, 12:13 PM
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Trip Report. Honduras Travel Part 1: Intro., and Colonial Comayagua February 2023.

Trip Report. Honduras Travel Part 1: Intro., and Colonial Comayagua
February 2023.

[1] Introduction.

I visisted Honduras (the mainland, not Roatan) with three friends recetnly, late January/early February (2023). The trip was thoroughly rewarding, as was the solo trip I had made 14 months earlier. Honduras gets a rather “bad rap” from our hysterical media; avoiding the bad neighborhoods of the two largest cities, I found the country to be safe and friendly, with a lot on offer. Honduras may not be for everyone — it is a poor country, and except for the popular Bay Islands, it lacks a highly-developed tourism infrastructure. But independent travellers, especially those jaded by the “horde tourism” in more popular destinations, may want to look into this country. (In this generally welcoming country, I’ve usually felt more like a real traveller, not just another “consumer.”) Below, and in a few separate reports, I’ll provide illustrated descriptions of the places we visited.

[2] Comayagua

[Note: Do not confuse Comayagua with Comayaguela, a city immediately adjacent to Tegucigalpa.]

Comayagua was capital of colonial Honduras, and for some of the republican (i.e., post-independence) period as well, before the capital was moved once and for all to Tegucigalpa in 1880. Though the city spawls a lot to the south, it maintains a large and attractive colonial center. There is a fine city museum, which is one of the few places where you can learn about the ancient Lenca civilization, which has yet to grab the full attention of the world’s archaeologists. The museum also covers the colonial and early republican periods.

Though there may not be any world-famous tourist spectacles here, Comayagua is a fine place just to hang-out and stroll round in for a couple of days (or more). The most impressive sight in town is probably the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, on the central plaza. Its elaborately sculpted front facade is worth inspecting, and the tower holds what is believed to be the oldest functioning mechanical clock in the Americas, or maybe in the world. And the clock got around — originally built in the early 12th century for the Alhambra in Spain, it was donated to colonial Comayagua in the early 17th century (late 16th, according to some sources) and installed in the La Merced church (which is still there), from where it was finally moved to its present location in the cathedral. You can climb the tower to inspect the mechanism, and admire some great views of the historic center. (Note that the outside clock face is not the original.)

For those (however few) with a serious interest in Central American history, or who are just curious about everything, I’ll point out that a couple of blocks south of the central plaza you’ll find the humble house where Jose Trinidad Cabañas, one of the founders, and early presidents, of indepdendent Honduras spent his last years. It now contains a museum devoted to Honduran presidential history (or so I’ve read, for it was closed on the afternoon I tried to visit).

For dining, head for a certain block of 2nd Avenue NE known for some reason as Paseo de la Ronda, located just a short walk to the east and south of the central plaza. The Paseo is largely devoted to informal restaurants and cafes, some offering sidewalk seating, and it’s usually quite busy. You’ll also find restaurants and cafes in and around the central plaza; for serious Honduran cuisine, check out a cafe across the street from the plaza that offers pupusas and Honduran-style tacos. (Not the same as Mexican tacos. Also, pupusas — corn tortillas with several types of filling, and lightly fried — may have originated in El Salvador, but there’s no need to make a point of this when in Honduras!) For meat lovers (of which am not one, but I liked the place all the same) there is the fine El Torito restaurant, towards the southern end of the city — from the city center you will probably want a taxi.

I can recommend both hotels I’m acquainted with. The Hotel Antigua is a fine, well-run hotel right in the historic center, and my first choice. Also, I stayed in the hotel Santa Maria de Comayagua the night before my flight out, and was quite satisfied with it. Its main issue is that it’s well outside the city center — but close to El Torito. (And the hotel has a resrtaurant of its own.)

Finally, the brand-new Palmerola International Airport (XPL) is just three miles outside of Comayagua; if you use that airport (for there’s another one in San Pedro Sula), there’s a fair chance that either right after your arrival, or just before your departure, you’ll spend at least one night in Comayagua. May as well make it a couple more.
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Old Mar 9th, 2023, 12:24 PM
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Honduras Travel, Comayagua: Photos

Some photos of Comayagua:

The Comayagua historic center, and the mountains beyond, from the tower of the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Typical street in Comayagua's historic center.

Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Street alongside the central plaza.
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Old Mar 10th, 2023, 06:21 AM
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Thanks again for the report. Regarding safety in Honduras, a friend who lives in Mexico says Mexicans regard Honduras and Guatemala the way Americans regard Mexico, as too dangerous to chance. Thanks for providing a counterpoint.
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Old Mar 12th, 2023, 08:48 PM
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Thanks, F. Nice reports. I read them all, but I'm only commenting on this one. Reminds me visually of Antigua, Guatemala, which isn't surprising given the proximity. I don't know if we'll ever get to Honduras, but should our semi-longer (out of Mexico) distance traveling wheels ever get traction again, your post gives food for thought. Love the pics. Another Fodor's jewel.
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Old Mar 13th, 2023, 02:49 PM
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It was pleasing to get this commendation from one of this site's leading Mexico experts, and one with several fine trip reports of his own on record.
Travel writers have in fact sometimes considered Comayagua the Honduran "Antigua." As it's been many decades since I saw Antigua, and my recollections are dim, I won't offer a comparison myself, though I will say that Comayagua nicely fulfilled my own continuing desire to lose myself in quaint, Spanish-colonials towns. (As did Gracias.) And at least for me, Comayagua, and Gracias, have one decisive advantage over Antigua: they don't get Antigua's tourist numbers.
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