I receive a lot of questions so this FAQ is lengthy. Please click the section headers of the topic that you are looking for.
Questions about ...
Living in Honduras
Communication to/from readers
Questions about the author...
Who are you?
I'm really just who I say I am. Just an ordinary housewife, married to a Honduran, living in his country instead of mine. You don't really think I could make all his stuff up, do you? Come on! Besides, if I was fake, I'd be perfect and wouldn't be constantly admitting all the stupid stuff I do, now would I? See also 'About' in the menu at the top of the blog.
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Where do you live?
I live just outside of La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras. (Click to enlarge map.) I don't give my exact location for security reasons.
Why do you live in Honduras?
I think that I answered that pretty well in this article, Why are we in Honduras?
Why do you blog?
Being an immigrant in any foreign country is not easy. Being a spoiled American (yes, I will admit it!) in a poverty stricken, forgotten country is really tough sometimes. This blog makes me feel more connected to the world and has helped me to connect to many Hondurans and expatriates both in Honduras and throughout the world. My hope is that in turn this blog will give the readers a little entertainment or insight into life in La Ceiba, Honduras. Thanks everybody for 'listening' to me!
Why do you blog anonymously? Why don't you use your name?
I use a pen name. There is no nefarious intent to deceive, I promise. Unlike an anonymous commenter who could be one of millions of people, for example, 'La Gringa' has a pretty wide internet presence and you'll find the same person/personality wherever you find me on the internet. Using a pseudonym is just something that I had to do in order to be able to speak frankly in this dangerous country without (too much) fear of retaliation. Most Hondurans understand that better than most gringos. I could have just picked a fake name and most readers would be none the wiser, but that seemed more dishonest to me.
Why don't you go home?
Ouch. Now that is a really rude question, don't you think? I seem to recall that was (and sometimes still is) used in the US when referring to Blacks or Latinos who dared to question the system. Not nice there. Not nice here in Honduras either. Interestingly, this question (or more accurately, this 'demand') almost always comes from people living in the land of the free where freedom of speech is so greatly valued. Honduras, warts and all, is my home.
How do you live? Where do you get your money?
These are really personal questions, but I think most people really mean to ask "How will I be able to live in Honduras? What can I do to earn money in Honduras?" I'd have to know a lot more about you and your circumstances to even attempt to answer that.
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Questions about the blog...
How much time do you spend on your blog?
Way too much! I wish I had a nickel for every hour.
Didn't you spell 'Blogicito' wrong?
Yes and no. I did if you are looking at it from the standpoint of a Spanish reader but if you are looking at it from the standpoint of an English reader, it will be properly pronounced with a hard 'g'. I spelled it in Spanglish and admitted it in 'Title dilemma'. By the way, if you don't know Spanish, anything that ends with a '-ito' means 'little whatever,' e.g., little blog. Technically, with over 1,400 articles now, the Blogicito should be called the Blogisote. ;-)
How do I find stuff on your blog?
I'm embarrassed to tell you how long I read blogs before I noticed that Blogger search box in the upper left corner! It really works. If you are looking for something specific, like, say, baleadas, you can get a page (or pages) with all of the complete articles that mention baleadas. If you are searching for a more general word, this search box will give you many pages of results. The Google blog search box in the sidebar gives a list of the title and first sentence or so of all related articles, which is a bit more manageable now that the Blogicito has gotten so big.
Another way to find what you're looking for is with the list of topics (categories or tags) in the sidebar. If you came to this blog to read about food, for example, click on the topic in the sidebar and you'll get all of the articles related to that topic together on one or more pages.
How can I remember how to come back here?
Well, you could bookmark it, but that is so 20th century. Click 'Subscribe' beneath the blog title to see the options to subscribe to La Gringa's feed for just about any newsreader. Go ahead - try it. It won't bite. You don't even have to know what a feed is. You can even subscribe to readers' comments if you are interested in a particular article. But if that is just too confusing, you can subscribe to have a daily email delivered to your inbox.
What if I want to know about something else?
If there is something particular you are interested in about La Ceiba or Honduras, don't hesitate to ask. New blog ideas are always welcome. If I know something about it or can easily find out, I'll be happy to write about it if I think it will be of interest to readers. Don't try to give me a job though, because I'm not going to do it. ;-)
Why don't you write more about [pick one] gardening/chickens/dogs/ice cream/crocheting/politics/current events? I hate all those articles about [pick one] current events/politics/crocheting/ice cream/dogs/chickens/gardening.
This blog is about my life and my interests and what I see around me. I write about what I know (or want to know more about) and what seems most interesting, important, or even easiest to write about at the time. Some days, I feel compelled to write about more serious topics, which often involve a lot of research. Other days, I want (and need) something light. Remember, I don't get paid for this!
For every comment or email that I get thanking me for writing about ABC and/or telling me that they aren't interested in XYZ, I get another with the exact opposite viewpoint. Really! All I can say is that try to think of me as your friend or neighbor — some days you just aren't interested in what they have to say and only half listen. Other days you are fascinated. I hope that more often than not, you will enjoy some of the topics and aren't too bored by the others. Hint: The best way to steer a blogger to write about certain topics is encouragement through comments on the articles, not by nasty cracks.
Why are you so negative?
We are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. One thing that blogging has taught me is that some readers are going to believe what they want to believe and read only what they want to read to prove that. I see a big difference between being realistic and being negative. I'm not ready to give up on Honduras. I still have hope and believe that there are hundreds of thousands of Hondurans who want and are willing to work at change. Nothing will change for the better by burying one's head in the sand and pretending that the problems don't exist. Visitors often find it easier to ignore the more unpleasant aspects of a country and that is normal, but I think immigrants should be more committed and care about what is happening in their adopted country. Just my opinion.
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Questions about visiting Honduras...
Note: My answers to questions for tourists are sometimes different than my answers for those living in Honduras. It's not a contradiction; it is what I believe.
Do I need a visa to visit Honduras?
Visitors from the US, Canada, and most other countries do not need to apply for a visa before coming. Your passport will need to be valid for at least six months. You will receive a 30 to 90-day tourist visa from Immigration when you arrive. Don't lose that little yellow paper stapled into your passport. There is a hefty fine for overstaying your visa. It is possible to extend that tourist visa one time for 30 days.
Where is a good place to stay?
if you are planning a vacation or a short-term volunteer trip to Honduras, Honduras Tips is a good website for getting a general idea of different areas of the country, and what hotels, restaurants, transportation, and tourist attractions are available. The site is not always completely up-to-date, but it provides a good overview, including the lesser known areas of Honduras. Check out Trip Advisor for more detailed information about hotels, restaurants, things to do, and reviews. Trip Advisor also has a forum where you can ask questions and get up-to-date information. Lonely Planet is an excellent source for practical information and their Thorntree forum is a great place for asking questions, skimming through the responses of people who have made the trip before, and reading trip reports. I highly recommend the Moon Travel Guide for Honduras and the Bay Islands. I wrote a few Touristy Tips for La Ceiba a few years ago. It needs updating.
Is the tap water safe to drink? Should I avoid certain foods?
No, the tap water in Honduras is not safe to drink. Only use bottled purified water which is readily available. The question I ask myself when deciding whether or not to eat something is "Could I prepare foods sanitarily in this location?" For example, if a vendor is slicing and serving fruit on the side of road with no sanitary facilities, my answer is usually 'no'. However, I would probably say 'yes' to the same fruits prepared and served at a home or in a clean restaurant.
Do I need to know Spanish to visit Honduras?
Probably not. Most hotels and tourist sites will have someone who speaks English who can assist you, especially in the Bay Islands and heavy tourist areas where English is more common. Many restaurants have someone who sorta speaks English, but a lot don't. Your hotel or restaurant can hook you up with an English speaking taxi driver, if needed, or you can hire someone to be your guide. It is always nice to learn a few common words and phrases, like 'please', 'thank you,' 'you're welcome', 'where is the bathroom?', 'do you have bottled water?', 'how much does it cost?', etc.
Is it safe to come to Honduras?
Unfortunately, there is no denying that the crime situation in Honduras has been steadily increasing over the past few years. I wrote more below under "Questions about living in Honduras. All that said, I can honestly say that tourists are very rarely affected by crime in Honduras. Hotels and high-frequency tourist areas take your security very seriously. Take reasonable precautions and you should be fine. Leave your valuables and fancy gadgets at home. Think twice before taking the "chicken buses". Don't walk at night, or in some areas even during the day; take an inexpensive taxi instead. Ask your hotel to recommend a reliable taxi driver or guide. Check with your hotel about the safety of off-the-beaten-track areas.
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Questions about living in Honduras...
What is it like living in Honduras?
Please read my blog. You might start by clicking the topic "Life in Honduras" and go from there if you find it helpful. Also check out other Honduras blogs from Hondurans and expatriates in different parts of the country. You can find many blogs at Honduras-Blogs.com along with snippets of their most recent articles. If you are considering moving to Honduras, I highly recommend reading blogs from Honduras as one of the best ways to find out what it is like to live here. You can also join our Honduras Living discussion group.
Do I need to know Spanish to live in Honduras?
My basic answer is: yes, I think you will be much happier if you do. The more detailed answer is here in Do you need to speak Spanish in Honduras?.
What is the crime situation really like in Honduras?
I know that you are asking me this because you want me to say it is no worse than some parts of the U.S. I wish I could, but I really can't say that. The 2010 murder rate in Honduras was 77 per 100,000 population, with some states being over 100 murders per 100,000. That is compared to an average of 7.6 worldwide and 5.0 for the US. Home burglaries and petty theft are rampant. Being a relatively well-off person in a poverty stricken country makes you a target in some respects and helps to insulate you from some of the crime in other respects. If you want to learn more, read the Honduran 2008 Crime and Safety Report (the latest version I could find) or if you read Spanish, the 2009 OCAVI report.
What do I need to know about immigrating and legal residency?
If you are considering staying in Honduras long term (more than 90 days), please click the Immigrating link in the menu at the top of the blog.
How much does it cost to live in Honduras?
I answered this as best I could in Cost of living in La Ceiba. Prices of just about everything have risen tremendously since then, so I really need to do an update. Like anywhere else in the world, it depends upon where you live and how you live. One thing I can say without almost certainty is that most people find that it costs more than they expected!
How much does a house cost in Honduras?
That is a really tough question to answer! I did the best I could in this article.
How can I earn a living in Honduras?
That's another very tough question that 3 million or so working-age Hondurans have to deal with. As a foreigner, starting your own business is one way. Working under a tourist visa is not legal, neither is working under the most common types of residencies, such as retirement or income residents. If you have a type of residency that allows you take a job for pay, you will still need a work permit in order to legally work here. But keep in mind that wages are really, really low.
I'm moving to Honduras. What should I bring and what should I buy there?
This really going to depend upon what is important to you. I have a heck of answer (if I do say so myself!) in 'To bring or not to bring, that is the question.'
What's the best advice that you can give me?
Okay. I'm cheating with one. It isn't frequently asked but it should be. My best advice is to not make any rash decisions, like "selling the farm" back home before knowing whether you and your family will like living in Honduras. Don't buy any property over the internet (no matter how nice the seller might seem!). Come down to try it out by renting for 6 months or so before you consider buying a house or property. Those suggestions don't make me popular with real estate agents, but a good, honest agent will tell you the same thing. Testing it out over a period of time is the only way to find out whether the decision is right for you. For more detailed information, please click the Immigrating link in the menu at the top of the blog. Oh, and be sure to read this: Would you buy a dress without trying it on?
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Questions about the weather...
What is the weather like in La Ceiba?
Hot and humid most of the time. I wrote more in How is the weather in La Ceiba. You can find the current weather in the weather widget in the sidebar. You can also click the "Weather" topic in the sidebar to read me complaining of it being too hot or too cold.
When is the rainy season in Honduras?
There is no one rainy season in Honduras. It varies depending upon the part of the country you are talking about. On the north coast, we get rain pretty much year round, just more of it during September through March. January is usually the rainiest month and May is usually the driest in La Ceiba. Check out my rain tables for monthly rain statistics from 2009 through 2011. The article mentioned in the previous question also gives more details and a link which explains even more about rainy season.
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Questions about communication to/from readers
Do you answer email?
Yes, I do. Thousands and thousands of emails. But I have to admit that sometimes my inbox is just out of control and when I run across an email that is 2-3 months old, I'm too embarrassed to answer it. Sometimes the most interesting emails get set aside for when I have more time to answer and then go by the wayside. If you wrote but didn't receive a reply (and still want one), please feel free to resend your message. I won't mind and hopefully your message will arrive at a better time. You can also check out La Gringa's email policy for more information.
Like most bloggers, I love to get feedback, even if you don't agree with me. That's fine. What is not fine is vulgar language or personal attacks against me or other commenters. If you would be able to say it to or in front of your grandmother, you can probably say it here. I have a wide variety of readers and I don't want to offend them. You can find my Comment Policy here.
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Questions about your blog ...
Will you give me a link?
I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to highlight only Central American and Mexican blogs on my blogroll, with emphasis, of course, on Honduran blogs. The reason is that I feel they are largely ignored by the rest of the world and for the most part, are difficult to find. So I'm just trying to do my part for the under-appreciated.
I have since developed Honduras-Blogs.com to highlight Honduran bloggers and current articles from Honduran blogs. Please check it out and follow the instructions to have your blog included.
How can I get my blog noticed?
Most important to remember is that it takes time and effort to get a blog noticed. It's not, "If readers come, I'll write"; it's "keep on writing and your audience will come back" — that is if you have good content. Try to write regularly, even if that is just once a week or once a month. Write about what you know and try to enjoy your blog. If you don't enjoy writing it, chances are that readers won't enjoy reading it. Let people know about your blog but don't be spammy about it. There are lots of good sources for blogging advice. Just start googling your questions.
Just one more tip: Open and read your own blog from the standpoint of a reader. Will they know what it is about? Can they search it? Will they be able to navigate and find your older articles? Can they read it? Is it legible or difficult to read because of small fonts, long lines, or super lengthy paragraphs? Are the colors and fonts sizes messed up? I love encouraging new Honduran bloggers and would be happy to give you feedback on your blog, though for technical help, Google is usually a better bet.
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You can read other frequently asked questions by clicking the FAQs topic in the sidebar. To see them all, click on "older posts" at the end of each page.
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There are some terms that I've been accustomed to use in Spanish rather than English. In some cases, one word suffices in Spanish, but it takes a phrase in English to convey the same meaning, so I like to use the Spanish word rather than cluttering up articles with "(this is what that means)". In some cases, the Spanish words are easy to figure out even if you don't know a lick of Spanish and they just sound better to my ears in Spanish. I try to be considerate of non-Spanish speakers, so if you run across a Spanish term that should be included here, please let me know. These are just some of the Spanish words off the top of my head that I use pretty frequently:
Catracho (catracha) - I wrote an article (What the heck is a Catracho?) about how this term evolved. It is a nickname for 'Honduran' and is a label worn proudly by Hondurans.
corrupto - one who is corrupt. One of those easy to figure out Spanish words.
El Jefe - The Boss. In the context of this blog, it is a term of endearment. Honduran men are definitely the heads of the household, but he really doesn't boss me around too much. ;-) You can read more about El Jefe in 'My Catracho'.
golpe - at its basic, it means a hit, bang, bash, crash. In reference to Honduras since 2009, it usually means a coup d'etat or overthrow of the current government. A golpista, of course, is one who is deemed (by the person using the word) responsible for or supporting of a coup d'etat. It is most often used now as an insult to discredit the ideas or motives of anyone who thinks differently than the person using the word.
gringa (gringo) -Gringa (feminine) or Gringo (masculine) refers to a foreigner generally of English-language descent (so yes, it can mean Canadian or Australian, etc.). Gringa/gringo are terms widely and loosely used in Honduras and they rarely have a negative connotation as they may have in some countries, unless the person is talking about a gringo government, in which case sometimes it is used negatively and sometimes it isn't. In general, it means no more than when a US American refers to the "blond" or the "Brit". Once a gringo, always a gringo, even if you live here 50 years. When I selected La Gringa as a pen name, I only found one other blogger in New York using it. Now there are hundreds, darn it!
pila - a concrete washtub-like sink, usually outdoors, used for washing clothes by hand and often used for storing water. Larger pilas often consist of two basins with an old-fashioned washboard embedded between them. It sounds very retro but I've found having one is amazingly useful even in a modern home.
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