• The Odyssey Network

Gabi talks Honduras

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

Gabi shares the nature, history, and creative spirit that makes Honduras so rich.




"I am a 31 year old from Tegucigalpa, Honduras who loves everything design! I work as an architect, artist, and urban designer. I love arts, crafts, and all kinds of experiments - the hardware store is my happy place. I've created everything from furniture to paintings. I also love to travel and admire the history and the architecture of a place. I love to see the daily life of people and go to the market or sit in a cafe. I am passionate about meditation and wellbeing and how to have a more balanced life. I do this through the visual arts."







If a friend were visiting Honduras, what is the first thing you would show her?


"Honduras is very diverse even for being a small country. To see all the different sides of Honduras, I would suggest flying into to the capital, Tegucigalpa, then you can go through lots of little towns and cities on the Lenca route to Copan. Then people usually go to the Bay Islands."


"Honduras is very diverse even for being a small country."

"The Mayan city of Copan on the west coast is the second most important Mayan city . This is a very important archaeological site and you will see the temples and everything to do with Mayan culture. It's an amazing place."


The Mayan city of Copan contains more hieroglyphics than any other Mayan site.


"On the other side of the country, we have the Bay Islands which are surrounded by the second largest coral reef in the world!"


The stunning Bay Islands include Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja. Swipe to see more.


"You can take the Lenca route between the two. The Lenca are another ethnic group in Honduras. They were very present in Honduras when the Spanish came- and they're still here! It's the roots of our culture. They had their own religious practices. Many of our words and names come from the Lenca people.


This route is a way to see very different sides of Honduras. On the Lenca trail you will see the temples, our tallest mountain, protected forests, and hot springs. You can see two sides to Honduras the rainforest and the ocean - amazing views and wonderful biodiversity. It's paradise. It's two different types of tourism all in the north of Honduras."



The route Gabi suggests takes the Lenca Trail from Tegucigalpa to the Northwest corner of the country and then travelling to the Bay Islands in the Northeast.

Food


"I'm a vegetarian so that narrows it, but my favourite is Baleadas. It is a flour tortilla with fried beans, cheese, sour cream and then you can add egg, avocado, and other people add chorizo. People add all sorts of things. It's not a burrito, its a baleada. It is everywhere and it's nice because you can put whatever you fee like in it."

A classic Honduran breakfast.

"There is a place here that has all of our traditional food. I don't go there because I can cook all of the food - but I would recommend going there! It's called El Patio.


For drinks there are two places that I love the most. The first is called La Ronda and the second is called Glenn's. La Ronda is newer and is where younger people go. It has a nice terrace so you can be inside or outside and it has a nice atmosphere. Glenn's is an old favourite. People sit outside with their drinks and chat.


Paradiso cafe is such a special place. You can have drinks there but the food is also very good. The owner is a very important person for us here. She is a historian who is a public figure in our city. She is always friendly and will come chat with you. The place is full of books and paintings and it is great because it is full of history and culture and good food and drinks.


For me it has to do with the people. I love the people that come to these bars."



A Word of Advice


"People are very friendly and they will ALWAYS try to give you food. If you really don't want the food or can't take it with you, you really have to be very gentle in the way you tell them. For example, when I was working in a little village they were giving me food all the time. There was a dish that I thought had chicken, and I didn't want to eat chicken but I couldn't say no. So I asked to take it with me. Everyone said I was amazing and it was really because I ate all the food!


"Everyone said I was amazing and it was really because I ate all the food!"

People won't understand if you have dietary requirements, especially if you are eating in someone's home. Be prepared to be careful how to explain this."


A mural by Gabi and Andrea Fonseca Chahin in a woman's home in Tegucigalpa.

Safety


"People are very friendly, especially towards tourists. Everyone is friendly, even the bad people. So you just have to be aware when people are talking to you. Another safety tip is to have your windows rolled up if you are driving when you are stopped at a light or approached by someone. The only bad reputation Honduras has is all in the cities, not the rest of the country. Within the cities, it's in very specific places. So just make sure you stay in the areas you know are safe. If you don't know, ask someone. However, these are normally off the beaten track. If you are alone just be aware of your belongings and keep things in your bag when you're walking around. For women, people will say a lot of things to you in the streets. So just be prepared. Most of the places you will be visiting (ex. bars, restaurants, museums, hotels) are not in these type of places."



Challenges


"The country is mostly Catholic, and very religious in general, and that is very present in our cultural norms. Being a woman that doesn't follow that can be very challenging. You will be constantly questioned and pointed out, but it will vary depending on the city and town as well the circles you hang out with. Luckily there is a lot of activism from feminist movements fighting for an equal society. We don't necessarily have obvious rules. In theory, we are all the same. However, there is always this underlying sense of submission. I think in general for women there are still many obstacles to overcome, we still need to fight against gender roles and the consequences that come with it."


"Culturally, there is pressure to be with a man in order to have a good life."

"I think we do have less opportunities. The man is always the priority in achieving their dreams. People think that women following tradition of having children and taking care of them is the way it should be. Culturally, there is pressure to be with a man in order to have a good life."


Three of Gabi's incredible original pieces (acrylics on paper).



Places of Empowerment


"When I am downtown in the city centre of Tegucigalpa, I feel independent. It's one of the few places in the city where you don't need a car. There is a lot of little art centres that you can walk around and see."

The City of Tegucigalpa and the Plaza Central and Downtown.



Gabi's Favourites


"As a woman in Honduras, we have gender roles but it's not as strict as some places. There is an understanding between women, we will trust each other because we are women. I know this is the case in most of the world - a comradery between women. However, compared to other places I've been, I think its deeper. For example, in the workplace, if there's a female coworker you know she will help you. It's not something we talk about, it's just something we feel."


"It's not something we talk about, it's just something we feel."

Three of Gabi's original pieces (Left: acrylics on paper; Center: acrylics on canvas; Right: pencil on paper).


"My favourite thing about being a human in general is our capacity for self-improvement - the ability for learning and creating is full of infinite possibilities. In Honduras, the social aspects of being human is very different. If someone comes to my city, the social life is really rich. It is so easy to make friends and relate to one another and talk to people.


"My favourite thing about being a human in general is our capacity for self-improvement - the ability for learning and creating is full of infinite possibilities."

Everyone will talk to you and include you in their family. You don't need to ask before stopping by to see someone, if they are eating, they will invite you to eat with them. You will learn a lot about us as people through the social experience."

A mural Gabi painted at CCET (Spain's Cultural Centre), Tegucigalpa. Swipe to see more.









Image sources:

Gabriela Zuniga Fu; Matthew Micah Wright / Getty Images; Ralph Lee Hopkins / Getty Images; JoeDovala/ Getty Images; https://histohonduras.wordpress.com/plaza-central-de-tegucigalpa/;

https://cr-diaz.blogspot.com/2014/08/la-capital-de-las-sombrillas.html; http://www.mayan-ruins.org/copan/; http://hondurastraveling.hn/enjoy-it/day-tours/honduras/copan-ruinas/; https://tropicaldiscovery.com/roatan-honduras-2/; https://www.weddingvacations.com/diving-roatan/; https://devacaciones.sv/roatan-el-paraiso-turquesa-de-al-lado/.

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