That Uncomfortable Feeling When Smoke is in the Air…
Perhaps the most frequently asked question by travelers planning their vacation to Honduras is about when is the best time to visit?
Usually, I will say that the best time to visit is December through February. This is the time of the year when the sky is blue. The atmosphere is crisp and you can almost touch the mountains. The mountains are all green and Honduras is a lovely tropical paradise. The temperature is also right: without it being too warm. Some will argue that we can still get good storms coming in from the north, and yes they are right, but I still think this is the best time of the year.
Few, however will argue that the worst time of the year is between April and May. You will imagine that this is spring time, and you will get to see more flowers, and everything will be green. But you are wrong. This is the driest time of the year, and as such, most of the mountains lose their green color and turn brown, especially those that no longer have a forest cover. The temperature is so hot, in the 90s and 100s, that we get a haze due to excessive water evaporation. If this were not enough, this is the time when all the “campesinos” rural workers who have their subsistence agricultural plots prepare their land for the oncoming rainy season in Central America, which traditionally begins in May.
The ancestral ritual of slash and burn is very much a part of life in Central America. Honduras is no exception. This means that you have many fires, which in turn create a lot of smoke. The smoke in turn mixes with the haze to create a truly smoky atmosphere. Thus the title of my post: smoke is in the air…
Both, the excessive heat, as well as subsistence farmers looking to clear the forest to have some agricultural land creates a true forest fire hazard. This complicates matters even more. So if you are traveling through Central America during this season, be prepared to have smoky landscapes.
This year, the situation will surely be dire. Two different bark eating beetles have been wreaking havoc with the pine forests in Central America. The beetles kill the trees, which then become fuel for continued forest fires. This is the time of the year when the airport in Tegucigalpa shuts down early in the mornings. This is due to the lack of visibility that is impaired by this smoke is in the air phenomenon.
A word of advice, if you traveling to Honduras on vacations during this time of the year, and do not need to land in Tegucigalpa, avoid Toncontin airport at all costs. You are much better off flying into San Pedro Sula and then continuing to your final destination. This way you will avoid delayed and canceled flights!