Honduras gets chance to shine at Coffee Hour


Honduras is a very compact country.

“We’re 8 million, and just in (the capital) Tegucigalpa it has 1 million … It’s very populated, crowded,” Elizabeth Canales, graduate student in agricultural economics, said.

The country of Honduras has approximately 43,000 square miles, which ranks at 103 in the CIA World Factbook’s global country comparison. The compact country was the topic of Friday’s Coffee Hour event held at the International Student Center. Students from Honduras shared stories and a presentation about their country, as well as served a traditional meal to students gathered.

Dal Wenger, Topeka resident, said that he did not realize how many people lived in Honduras.

“I had no idea how large it was,” Wenger said. “They’ve got almost three times the population and half our size.”

Country background
About 90 percent of Hondurans are “mestizos,” a mixture of indigenous and European descent, the presenters said. The official language is Spanish and currency used is the lempira which, unlike American dollars, differ in color.

The flag of the Hondurans, or “catrachos” as they are nicknamed, is blue and white to represent the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The five stars represent the five countries that made up the former Federal Republic of Central America (El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala).

“I like knowing that about the flags,” Sara Wenger, Manhattan resident, said. She attended with her dad, Dal Wenger. “They all have some important meaning.”

The way the country got its name is also meaningful, said Keyla Lopez, graduate student in food science and presenter. Lopez said that, according to legend, European explorer Christopher Columbus got trapped in a storm and came out near the tip of the country. “Honduras,” she said means “depths.”

“So he exclaimed, ‘Oh thank God that we got out of this deepness,’ and that’s why we call it ‘Honduras,’” she said.

Rich history
Honduras was home to the Mayan civilization as early as 1000 B.C., and still retains some of the architecture from the Mayan culture. One famous site is Copán Acropolis, the royal complex, and its plazas.

“Copan has five major plazas … pretty much all of the activity of the Mayans happened in that central plaza,” Lopez said.

Another important plaza is the ceremonial plaza, which held a stadium where the Mayans played ceremonial games.

“They would have a ball of rubber and they used to play with their elbows and knees,” Lopez said.

The Altar Q, located in Copán, is also an important monument in Honduras. It has the names of the Copán dynasty’s 16 kings inscribed in hieroglyphics, art that portrays the transition of power from one king to the next, Lopez said.

The Rosalila, another famous structure of Mayan civilization, was the center of religious activity in the 16th century.

“The Mayans carried out elaborate ceremonies there,” Lopez said. “This temple is now underground because each new governor would build upon the temple of his predecessor.”

Honduras has also preserved much of its natural environment. The Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve is one of the few remnants of the tropical rainforest in Central America. Over 2,000 indigenous people have preserved their lifestyle in this environment.

“Some of the ‘Survivor’ (seasons) have been filmed here,” Canales said. “(This includes) ‘Survivor’ Italy, France and Spain.”

Honduran food, friends
A typical dish from Honduras includes beef, chicken, sausage with plantains, refried beans, tortillas and a cheese similar to mozzarella. Some traditional snacks in Honduras are made with corn, cheese and cain sugar. They are usually served with coffee.

“We use more condiments,” Lopez said. “It’s more flavor-intense.”

After the presentation, the audience members were able to taste some of the traditional food.

There are only five students from Honduras at K-State, though Lopez said that doesn’t bother her.

“There are a good number of students from Central America, so we hang out together and we do stuff together,” she said.

The presentation did not address current political conflicts in Honduras. This was intentional, according to the presenters.

“We want to make an emphasis on what is good from Honduras,” Lopez said. “We are a small country, but we have this encouragement to become better every single day.”