When travelers think “Honduras” they probably don't think “big, weekly indigenous markets.” So when we were in Honduras and caught wind of a weekly market in a little town called La Esperanza in country's western hills along a path of historically indigenous villages called the Ruta Lenca, we hopped a series of chicken buses in the wee hours of the morning to see what it was all about.
One part windblown, another part oasis and a whole lotta' cowtown, La Esperanza appears a concatenation of dusty street corners. If you open up the panorama and take a spin around, you can see for yourself what it's like to stand amidst it all and watch market life go by.
Women walk with buckets of goods balanced on their heads (how do they do that??), local farmers sell onions and avocados from sacks and plastic crates, people shade themselves from the sun with towels and cowboy hats, and vendors spread plastics and kitchen goods on the ground.
Like any good market, it's a poke and pick-through hagglefest.
360-Degree Panorama: Street Corner at the Weekly Market in Esperanza, Honduras
The weekly market sprawls from the hills to the main square as makeshift stalls unfold onto the town's unpaved streets. Market-goers stream in from neighboring villages not only to buy and sell goods, but to exchange the latest news and information. The Lenca, one of Honduras' few remaining indigenous groups, actually call this area their home. They are a rather tiny ethnic minority, surviving in a majority (90%) mestizo (of mixed Amerindian and European blood) Honduras. But like any group of people with longstanding traditions, their lives and many of their livelihoods are attached to the market and the audible buzz of their activity fills every nook and cranny — inside, outside, covered and open.
During our visit to La Esperanza, we were the only gringos in town, and from the looks of things, we'd likely be some of the few if only travelers the town would see for weeks. If you happen to be crossing the land border from Honduras to El Salvador at Perquin, consider stopping off at La Esperanza for a day or two to take in the market to enjoy a low key Honduran hill town and some good, strong coffee in the covered market.