September 30, 2006

Richard Gere came to Honduras

Photo: La Prensa, Honduras

This is old news, but it was big news in Honduras. Last March actor Richard Gere and his family vacationed in Copan, site of the famous Mayan ruins. It's not often that we get movie stars on the mainland of Honduras. It was front page headline news − the entire front page of the paper and all of pages 2 and 3.

The picture above probably shows him asking the photographers for the hundredth time to please not follow his family around taking pictures. Judging by the number of photos in the 3-page spread in the paper, that wish was not respected. The following picture is of his wife, actress Carey Lowe, probably saying for the hundredth time, "Take the picture and then leave us alone, please!!"

Photo: La Prensa, Honduras

He and his family visited the ruins, ate meals on the open-air patio, and did all the normal touristy things, without an entourage or even a body guard. Very daring in this country, when Lonely Planet does not recommend that even average tourists wander around the ruins without an escort due to the danger of robberies and rapes. He was offered security by the Policía de Turismo (Tourism Police) but turned it down.

Apparently, the first day no one in Copan even knew that a movie star was there until other tourists started mentioning him. Then the photographers showed up. The newspaper article stated that his wife stayed in the room a lot and noted that Richard didn't dress like a movie star and needed a shave. The bartender said that he was nice, but "no tan guapo" (not as good looking) as in the movies.

The newspaper interviewed a waiter who reported how much Richard drank the first day (two beers), every single thing he ate, and that he liked pupusas (a thick corn masa stuffed with cheese or pork rinds). The bartender expressed her disappointment at the amount of tip Richard left for a drink in the bar.

In the original newspaper article, I specifically remember that they reported the tip was "only" $20 which, at the time, I remember thinking was as much as a waiter probably normally makes in two days. Interestingly, I checked La Prensa's archives and the amount was changed to $2 in the archived article. And then later again, it was changed to a $12 tip! A $12 tip for two beers sounds pretty darn good to me. It was a shame that they misreported that in the paper version.

Movie stars are used to that sort of coverage, but in a country that is desperately trying hoping to increase tourism, I just wish they would have treated him a little better.


Isn't he gorgeous? In my opinion, the older he gets, the better he gets. I love that grey hair and nobody looks better in a tuxedo than Richard Gere.

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