Honduras: Coast, Heat, and Carnival!


It’s that time in the year for ‘Ceibeños’ (inhabitants of La Ceiba, one of the largest town in Honduras) to party all day and night to the rhythms of the coast!

For the coastal Hondurans, party is no longer an option; it’s already part of their weekly routine. Don’t get me wrong! Coastal Hondurans are hard working, but when it comes to dancing, singing, and enjoying the holidays, they know how to deliver with radiant energy.


May is the month of the carnival in La Ceiba, which this year will be celebrated on May 19. The entire week is dedicated to “La Feria Isidra” (The Isidorian Fair); and along various neighborhoods of the city, there are numerous celebrations in honor of Saint Isidore the Laborer. Saint Isidore is the city’s patron saint, whose holiday is celebrated May 15. For the Catholic community of the city, this day starts with a joyful dawn. Then, at noon, they have a procession for Saint Isidore; and finally, the evening is concluded with the celebration of a mass. Nevertheless, the carnival, which always takes place on a Saturday, welcomes all those willing to celebrate friendship and community love, regardless of their religious ideologies.


Saint Isidore is a catholic saint, also known as Saint Isidore the laborer. He was a Spanish farmer from Madrid, from which, along with La Ceiba and some other villages, he is the city’s patron saint. Saint Isidore was well known for his reverence to the poor and to animals as well. Quite numerous amount of miracles are attributed to him. He was very serviceable, and would often brings guests back home to offer them some lunch. In one occasion, he brought more guests than usual and his wife, Saint Maria de la Cabeza, was not expecting this. When she had served all the plates with the stew she had prepared in the cauldron, she proceeded to telling Saint Isidore that there was no more food. However, he insisted and told her to check again in the cauldron for more stew, and she spooned enough for every single guest.

The laborer was so devout that every morning, before going to work, he would attend to mass, and his workmates would complain about his lack of punctuality. So his master, in an attempt to clarify his doubtts, went to check on him. Upon his surprise, he found Saint Isidore praying, while an angel was plowing for him. On another instance, he saw that while he was plowing, two other angels were plowing with him; so Saint Isidore’s work consequently equaled that of three of his workmates.


He is now considered to be the patron saint of farmers, and those who work the fields. Often, he was asked to help them out with some kind of climate change that would benefit the crops they were growing. From this, emerged a song that asked him to change the sunny days into rainy ones, or, in many cases, to do the opposite as well. In Spanish, its phrase is

“San Isidro Labrador quita el agua y pon el Sol.

San Isidro Labrador quita el sol y pon el agua”

which literally translates to ‘Saint Isidore take the sun away and bring the water. Saint Isidore take the water away and put the sun.’ When we were small, we were taught this song, and whenever it rained, we would sing with the hope the sun would come out soon, for us to go play outside. If a saint can turn a gloomy day to one full of sunshine, I would also dedicate a week to celebrate that!


Although the birth of the celebration is attributed to the appreciation of the saint, today the carnival is no longer so linked with it. The fairs and celebrations are still named after him, but the carnival itself has been named the “Friendship Carnival”, and many people from all over the country, and even from neighboring countries such as El Salvador or Guatemala, come to this celebration. It is a long day usually characterized by intense heat. For many, the way they spend this day is part of their family traditions. Some get seats in the roofed bleachers the municipality sets up, and others try to arrive very early with their pickup trucks, parking them at the side of the road to settle their place early in the day.


The route of the carnival is set along the entire Saint Isidore Avenue, which extends itself across 3.4 km. The whole setting up takes place during the entire morning. At Noon, the booths and stands are already ready and those who sell food, given it’s lunchtime, use this opportunity to attract their clients. The 12 o’clock sun is tremendously strong. This is probably the reason why the carnival doesn’t start at 12 – and because participants take lunchtime very seriously as well.


The excitement and the energy start flowing from the morning, but the actual float parade starts at 2 p.m., just right after people have eaten and are ready to enjoy the show. You have numerous amounts of animators on the floats. Dancers, singers and models are decorated with extravagant dresses. Some local designers such as Eduardo Zablah, let their imaginations run through the colors and magic of the coastal city, to come up with extravagant costumes that are fit for such grandiose occasion. The parade lasts until the afternoon and early evening. Besides the floats, you also get to see horses parading, motorcyclists, and dancers such as garifuna groups, and some marching bands from renowned schools of the city. After the parading, the hours of fun are not over of course! There are numerous concerts of national and international bands and artists. The locals and guests enjoy the night to its fullest and those who can, stay to greet the sunrise.


The carnival is indeed one of the events ‘Ceibeños’ are really eager about. Many have already posted about their excitement and claimed they are ready to catch as many necklaces as possible. The people in the floats, horses, dancers in the street, and even some citizens who happen to live in this avenue, have well enrooted the tradition of giving away necklaces to the passersby, and those in the bleachers too. It’s incredible what people do for a necklace. But hey, that’s the tradition, if you don’t have at least one necklace by the end of the parade, it’s almost as if you weren’t there!


The happiness is in high amounts in this day; and for those 24 hours citizens get to clear their minds of  any problems they might be confronting. For those 24 hours, you can dance, sing, drink, jump, laugh and give away smiles to anyone you encounter… Essentially live live to its fullest. If I had to characterize people from La Ceiba with an event, it would definitely be the carnival. All the activities and affairs of this Saturday sum up life in one of Honduras’ coastal cities. This lifestyle might strike as a bit crazy, but after all, Celia Cruz was right: there’s no need to cry because life is just that, a carnival!


Honduras: Is there anything left to save in Honduras?

Honduras, land and of tall grass fields, jungles, rivers, beaches, mountains, coral reefs and so many wonderful sunsets. Geographically you might find all kind of marvels in there, but besides our aesthetic beauty, believe it or not, there is so much more to be proud of within this humble little country.

It’s 112, 492 m2 full of people that are ready to work from sunset to dawn. Hondurans, also known as “catrachos”, are people that besides all the hardships and circumstances that they have to put up through, will keep on walking even if they might not have legs (Just as Calle 13’s song Latinoamérica). Hondurans also are ready to help out even if they don’t find themselves in the best conditions ever.

The story of the demonym “catrachos” proves the solidarity of our people. Honduran General Florencio Xatruch is to whom we owe the gentilic, to be precise. In 1855, he fought against the filibuster William Walker, an American who was born in 1824 and wanted to conquer various regions of Latin America, in the attempt to form new slaves states to join to the already existing ones in the US – this was called ‘filibustering’. He managed to invade and rule Nicaragua from 1856 to 1857. However, Central American troops were ready to fight for their liberties and Xatruch, alongside with generals from Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala, fought against Walker, defeating him at several battles. Xatruch fought with an army of 600 hondurans, which were called the ‘Xatruch brothers’ – in Spanish, “los hermanos Xatruch.”

But this general happened to be from Catalan descendance, and it was impossible for people to pronounce the name correctly; so they called them “los hermanos catruches”, the “catruches brothers” in English. From then it morphed to today’s “Catrachos”, very widely used amongst Hondurans and some Central Americans. The gentilic is something Hondurans take pride of indeed!


Our history has often defined us as fighters. In 1954, Honduras witnessed its biggest and most important worker’s strike. From the 1rst  and 2nd of May, Honduran workers demanded that which American transnationals deprived them of: their social and worker rights. The banana companies, for instance, exploited workers, appointed congressmen, determined who would be in office and how long, and in short, ‘owned’ Honduras during these times. Under the Tiburcio Carias Andino dictatorship lasting from 1933 to 1949, civil and humans rights have been violated in high quantities.

The strikes started in 1953 and in attempts to stop any form of revolts, the workers were punished by being forced to work days without pay on Sundays, the day assigned for resting. Yet, Hondurans fought back and met in two important ports for the banana shipments. From two initial ports the strike spread to all the banana plantations, and the workers could not be ignored anymore. Quickly, it became a popular uprising of the entire country, that expanded to other domains and factories as well. The strike finally stopped in what seemed to be an uneased ending. But it left the country in shock. The National Party, that wanted to continue its dictatorship with successors, was overthrown. A call for elections then led to the presidency of Villeda Morales, who, in 1959 established a “work code” that legalized syndicalism and reformed workers’ rights. The fight lasted 69 days and proved that the workers had an ardent will to go beyond obstacles, even if that meant risking their lives. This spirit of “lucha” – or in English, the will to fight – has not left Honduran souls.

Everyday, women, men, children even, wake up early to go ‘win their bread’ yet it seems that so many other forces have much stronger reign in Honduras. I’m sure that if you happen to have any knowledge of Honduras, that which you know is perhaps not so bright or marvellous. Recently, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, was said to be the most violent city in the world;  however according to 2018 statistics, we went down to the 26th spot in 2017, reducing in one year the rate by about 54% thanks to the efforts of the current government. There are tones of negatives stories in newspapers and television news. But there is still lots to save from the despair Honduras seems to be in.

Catrachos are entrepreneurs and extraordinarily talented in sports, arts and sciences such as maths. They are also described by their creativity. Recently, in 2017, a sugar cane farmer developed his own sugar cane juice extractor! Although the invention probably already existed, he developed his own prototype with no academic knowledge of engineering. This is one more way to show that it is hard work that leads to success: when a Catracho wants to do something, nothing can stop him! In La Ceiba, the third most important city of Honduras, Jose Chinchilla, a young entrepreneur, organized the very first Honduran TedX event in 2017, and is currently organizing the second one.

This is just some proof that the negative forces that seem to rule our country are as strong as we let them be, and many don’t let them be strong at all. Honduras has such a History and so much to improve and grow! Yet there is one sure thing, there is much to be proud from. So go deeper than the first article you find of Honduras and fall in love with it as I and many other have! I’ll leave you some articles I used and others, for you to learn about the history and the wonders that Catrachos like to share with the world.

Truly yours,

A proud Honduran, but most importantly a proud citizen of the world,

Ana Catalina, Keeper of Honduras