March 31, 2008

Turiplaza, El Progreso, Honduras

Honduran painted chestHonduran carved and painted chest

These are some photos that I was able to take at a quick stop at the Turiplaza center just outside of El Progreso. El Progreso is a medium-sized city, only slightly smaller than La Ceiba, on the highway about 30 minutes east of San Pedro Sula, and about 2 hours west of La Ceiba.

Unfortunately, the Moon Handbook describes El Progreso as:
"An unattractive, hot agricultural city of 115,000 on the east bank of the Rio Ulua, El Progreso offers little to interest tourists. Most foreigners who find themselves in El Progreso are changing buses on their way between San Pedro Sula and Tela. The only reason to delay your departure might be to check out two souvenir shops in town."
Awww! El Progreso is not that bad. It actually looks better and cleaner than it did a few years ago. Agriculture might be big, but the maquilas (usually foreign-owned factories) seem to be having a larger effect. El Progreso has a big, brand new mall just outside of town on the highway and an overabundance of fast food franchises, neither of which agricultural workers can afford. Many of its citizens commute to San Pedro to work.

We stopped at one of the mentioned souvenir shops, Turiplaza, to buy a map. They were out of the good maps but we were able to get a simple free one. We used to have a detailed map upon which we had marked the locations of all the places that we sometimes go to in San Pedro Sula. It was so handy and saved us a lot of time in planning our various stops around the city. Someone stole it out of our car so now I have to start all over again. :-(

Turiplaza, El Progreso, HondurasThis scarlet macaw is in a cage outside the front door. He seemed content. It's amazing to find such colors in nature. It looks more like something an inventive child would dream up with their 12-crayon box.

Painted Honduran tableHonduras is known for its caoba (mahogany) and has talented carvers. I like the unpainted wood much better than the painted, which to me has a cartoonish look which takes away from the beauty of the wood and the fine carving.

Lenca pottery, HondurasThis photo shows Lenca pottery. The Lencas are an Indian tribe native to Honduras who still make this pottery the way it was made hundreds or maybe thousands of years ago. You can learn more about the Lencas at The Worldwide Traveler and even purchase the pottery and jewelry online at my friend Sam's Lenca Art Store. I have one piece and would like to get more. I love the designs and simple colors. Sadly, there was no time to shop on this visit.

Bird key ringIn addition to handicrafts, Turiplaza sells all the typical souvenir type things, including postcards, notecards, key rings, coffee cups, t-shirts, jewelry, etc. I don't know what this bird on a ring is supposed to be used for but I was looking for a LARGE keyring so we can remember to take the key out of the door at night and this one fit the bill.

Honduran lounge chairsHandmade Honduran lounge chairs.

If you are driving on the main highway between San Pedro and Tela, Turiplaza is definitely worth a stop. It has a good selection of Honduran crafts especially if you are looking for carved wood. Mercado Guamilito in San Pedro is also fun for shopping − we found some excellent hammocks there years ago − and one of these days we have to go back for more shopping and photos.

Turiplaza, El Progreso, HondurasTuriplaza is supposedly open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, but we've tried to stop in several times during those hours and they were closed for one reason or another.

If you want to call first to make sure the store is open, the number is 504-657-2200. I wish I could give directions but the best that I can do is say that it is on the highway going east from El Progreso. Below is a photo of the building from their website. Look for it on the north side of the highway.

Turiplaza, El Progreso, Honduras
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