The Beauty of Honduran Culture

Honduras is a country in Central America located between Guatemala and Nicaragua. The name Honduras means “The great depths”, which was named because of the deep waters at the mouth of the Tinto o Negro River off the Mosquito Coast. The people of this beautiful country are Latino, and so is the culture for the most part. The national language is Spanish, but many other languages are spoken in the country. Other cultures influence Honduras. Many indigenous people call Honduras home, such as the Garifuna, Lenca and Miskito people. The Garifunas are the largest ethnic minority group in Honduras.


My parents are from this beautiful country. When I visit Honduras there is a distinctive smell, a smell that brings nostalgic memories of being around family, chicken wake-up calls, vibrant colored flowers, food, sounds of the ocean, drums and music. The mountainous terrain in Honduras exudes serenity and tranquility. I love looking at the greenery of a structure that seems so far but is close at the same time. It’s the minuscule things that I find overwhelmingly beautiful. In my parents’ villages, the infrastructure is nothing like where I grew up in New York City. The houses vary in different colors, and are usually are one level. Families who are financially able to add on to their homes take pride in the details of doors, windows and gates. Women and children walk around throughout the day selling ke ke (which is a pastry that is eaten usually in the morning with coffee), plantains, baleadas, and cassava. Men head out to the beach to fish, find work in the neighboring villages or exchange ‘palabras’ with friends.

Sambo Creek, Atlantida, Honduras

As a predominantly Roman Catholic country, most Honduran towns will have annual celebratory events to honor the saint of the village. Different towns have celebrations throughout the year but during different months. Another big celebration is for Easter week which is called “Semana Santa.” Many towns have a reenactment of biblical events, festivals, and parades. The city of La Ceiba holds a carnival/Mardi- Gras type festival called La Feria de San Isidro in May.

As in most countries, music is prevalent in Honduras. Different sounds pour out of homes, cars, bars, and on the streets. The radio stations play punta, reggaeton, ranchero, bachata, reggae, salsa, and merengue. The Bay Islands have a Caribbean vibe with reggae, and the latest songs from popular artists from the world. The Bay Islands are also a haven for tourists. It sits on the second largest coral reef in the world and Roatan is the main island where tourists visit during their stay to scuba dive. In the Garifuna villages, mainly near the beach, you hear the sounds of the drums.

The Caribbean coast of Honduras and the outlying Bay Islands are home to the Garifuna people, descendants of Africans who were survivors of shipwrecks. The Africans intermingled with the Carib and Arawak Indians from the island of Saint Vincent. They were exiled by the British in 1797 and migrated to Roatan. The Garifuna people spread to the mainland of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Belize. April 12th is the Garifuna Settlement Day. This event is a commemoration for when about 2,026 Garifunas arrived on the island of Roatan. However, during that time Roatan belong to Great Britain until 1859. Punta Gorda has the most significant celebration to honor the sacred event. Sambo Creek, Rio Esteban, Corozal, Tela, San Juan, Sante Fe, Trujillo, are some of the small pueblos where the majority of the population are Garifuna.

The women in my family stated that life in Honduras was not luxurious. There were no conversations on beauty or beauty products. Nothing was ever really passed along to women of the family about beauty tips. Living in Honduras, meant figuring out ways to survive, support your family and how to get it done efficiently. My aunt always told my cousins about the importance of being clean. The women in the towns used coconut oil not only to cook with but to moisturize their skin and scalp. Coconut oil was quickly feasible to attain in the village. Old fabrics were used when women got their menstrual cycle. Women washed the vaginal area with lemon juice or vinegar. When there’s no deodorant, people take half a lemon, burn it then use it as an antiperspirant. The residents of the Garifuna pueblos shop at the pulperia for basic needs. (The pulperia is your neighborhood bodega, think of it as a very small grocery store. Families receive goods from the larger cities or imports from the United States to resale). There are some barbershops and a few hair salons in the pueblo. Many women provide in-home services called ” Al domicilio” which translates into “at your home”. The reason for this popular in home service is because beauty salons are too expensive to be built.

Rio Esteban, Colon, Honduras

“ Nosotros somos pobre, nosotros somos natural…”

As Hondurans migrated to the United States of America, the exposure to hair and fragrance products began. My mother was exposed to relaxers in Brooklyn during the 1980s. To perm, your hair wasn’t a thing back in those days in Honduras. She stated, “Nosotros somos pobre, nosotros somos natural” (We were poor, we were natural). The natural hair movement prevalent in the villages. Many girls wear natural hairstyles, such as afro puffs, box braids, and cornrolls. Big name beauty products that are used in the United States that are not available or never heard of are sent to Honduras from family members. People learn about trends through the media. Beauty salons and nail salons are present in the cities rather than the small villages. Residents head to the cities such as Jutiapa, La Ceiba or San Pedro Sula to purchase beauty products. 

 

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