July 16, 2006

The good, the bad, and the ugly

What do Hondurans do well? Not so well? And down right horribly?

The Good

Plastic Bags: They make the best plastic bags I've ever seen. They don't tear, they don't leak, and they will hold 50 pounds with no problems. A bag can be reused 20 times. An odd thing, though, is that they only come in broad orange and white stripes.

Soups: It is strange to me that in a country that is so darn hot and humid all the time that soup would be so popular. A lot of restaurants in the U.S. don't have soup on the menu at all. Those that do generally won't have more than one or two selections. Even small Honduran restaurants often have 4 or 5 soups on the menu. I've seen menus with 10 different kinds of soup. The sopa de caracol is to die for. And when they serve soup, they serve soup! There are none of those little teacups. If you order a small soup, expect it to come in a liter sized bowl. The large order is embarrassing − washtub sized.

Tajadas: It's the potato chip of Honduras (or tortilla chip, depending upon what part of the U.S. you are from). It is an unripe platano (plantain) sliced on the diagonal into about 1/8 to 1/4 inch pieces and deep fried. Yummy. Not greasy at all. It can be made with bananas instead, but no, plantains are the way to go.

Showers: For those who do have bathrooms, they usually have huge ceramic-lined showers − easily fitting 4 to 5 people. No bumping your elbows on the walls here.

The Bad

Food: All Honduran food is brown or white. No exceptions. Almost all of it is fried or boiled. Always overcooked. Whatever country in the world you are reading this from, I ask you: Have you ever seen a Honduran restaurant? I thought not. Point made.

Bathrooms: Just say no. Go back to your house or hotel. Or at least carry your own toilet paper with you. Enough said.

Warranties: What warranties? We ain't got no stinkin' warranties.

The Ugly

Consumer protection: A favorite task assigned to grocery store workers is scratching off all those pesky expiration dates from the food packages, especially dairy products. If the vegetables or seafood are packed in a foam tray covered with plastic, there's a reason. They are hiding something. Don't buy it.

Quality: Sandals that last 25 minutes. Clay pots that disintegrate after two months. Paint that peels off with the first rain. Tools that break after one use. Food that is already spoiled when you buy it. Etc., etc. etc.

Government services: Ha! I'll have to write a whole article about this one.

Mail Service: La Ceiba, with a population of about 150,000, has one mail deliverer. San Pedro Sula, population of about 1,500,000, has two.

Five things Hondurans can not say (or at least Ceibeños can't): I'm sorry. I don't know. I made a mistake. You are right. Thank you.

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