This is a continuation from last week of our CIDA-funded focus on Indigenous eco tourism in Honduras.

The Lodge at Pico Bonito

The Lodge at Pico Bonito has only been in operation a short time, but is already listed as one of the “small luxury hotels of the world.”

Their butterfly farm, Honduras’ second, was constructed in collaboration with Roberto Gallardo, and other peace-corps volunteers. It is located about a half kilometre from the main greeting cabin, and is home to 40 species of butterflies.

There are three main components to this butterfly farm:

1) The nursery is where the host plants of the butterflies are grown; these are the plants that the larvae eat. A healthy and abundant nursery is crucial to the farm as the plants that are grown here dictate what species and quantity of butterflies can be raised.

2) The larvae house is where the majority of daily activities take place. Host plants in the butterfly house and enclosed nursery are checked for eggs daily.

These eggs are then brought in a plastic container to the larvae house. After hatching, the larvae go through a few different steps before they become full-fledged butterfly. First they’re placed on their respective host plant. They are then placed with the plant in a cage where it begins to eat and grow. It takes between two to nine weeks to grow, depending on the species. Some butterflies grow up to six inches long.

3) The third component is the actual butterfly house. The butterflies will stay in the house for two to six weeks, depending on the species. This is the area where the butterflies feed, mate, and lay eggs.

The Lodge is nestled deep in the Nombre de Dios (Name of God) mountains.

The Bay Islands

Located just off the coast of La Ceiba, Honduras are three tracts of land called the Bay Islands. These islands include Utila, Roatan, and Guanaja, with Roatan being the largest.

People can learn about the Bay islands history as well as participate in leisure activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing.

The islands have a bloody history. Pirates once ruled over them and Britain and Spain fought over the Islands many times during the 18th century. The original inhabitants were the Paya Indians, who appear to have vanished. Christopher Columbus “discovered” these Islands in 1502. Britain eventually gained control of the Islands, and in 1859, ceded them to Honduras.

The resulting language of the Honduran cultural melting pot known as the Bay Islands sounds like a mix between Creole, English, assorted African languages, and a dash of local flair. It is quite interesting to hear, yet hard to understand at times.

Tourists come for the ambience of the islands, as well as the world-renowned scuba diving, which is said to be the cheapest place (especially Utila) to scuba dive in the world. They often end up staying longer than expected because the sheer beauty of the islands is not so easy to walk away from.

Amazingly, it wasn’t until June 2003, that the Islands finally gained electricity 24 hours a day!

La Ceiba – the Garifuna people

One of the larger cities in Honduras is a place called La Ceiba. Small by North American standards, it is the point of departure that is closest by boat to Utila, Bay Islands. The journey takes about an hour and 15 minutes,

The languages spoken in La Ceiba are somewhat different from those in the Bay Islands. The people speak more Spanish than English, and there are also people called the Garifuna. Similar to the Mosquito Coast, these people originated from African slaves who were marooned from British ships passing through Honduras. The newly freed slaves then made their way to La Ceiba, and other towns and cities nearby, and instead of mixing with the local population like on the Mosquito coast, they retained a large part of their culture, language, and heritage, and avoided being assimilated by their Spanish hosts. Although they are not considered native to these parts, they have been here for over 150 years, and are considered a vital part of Honduran society. Canadians play a significant role in developing Honduran society and in particular helping the Garifuna people.

One of these ways is through an organization called C.A.U.S.E Canada, which stands for Christian Aid for Under-Assisted Societies Everywhere.

C.A.U.S.E is a Christian non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) that was founded in 1984. Since that time, they have focused their work in relief and development in three particularly under-assisted regions of the world: West Africa, Central America, and most recently, Central Asia.

They are involved in Central American projects in Guatemala and Honduras, and are committed to helping people in areas of the developing world that are underassisted by the international development community. They hope to help the Garifuna carry out self-improvement projects that enhance their social and economic well being over the long-term, while encouraging them to establish and strengthen their own local development organizations and achieve self-reliant development goals.

C.A.U.S.E Canada receives funding from a variety of public and private institutions and foundations. The organization’s largest donor is the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

C.A.U.S.E is currently supporting a coconut palm reforestation pilot project on the northern coast of Honduras. They are working directly with local NGO’s and community members to replant more than 21,000 coconut seeds over the next three years.

The Garifuna people inhabit the Caribbean coast from Belize to Nicaragua and are culturally and economically dependent on coconuts for their survival. The rapid destruction of the coconut trees from lethal yellowing disease, a sickness spread by a small plant-hopper which leaves trees without any leaves or fruit (looking much like a telephone pole), has severely hurt Honduras’ Garifuna population.

The project seeks to combat lethal yellowing disease and to help save traditional Garifuna cultural practices, recipes, and economic means, through the planting of species of trees that are tolerant to the disease. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the disease, only methods to control it.

Beesum communications, and The Nation magazine would like to thank the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for their support in making this project a reality. Without them, this story would not have been possible.

Steve Bonspiel recently traveled to Honduras to study indigenous economic initiatives, eco-tourism projects in particular.

Produced with the support of the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)