La Esperanza is in the heart of the Honduran mainland, high up in the mountains. It is the capital of the Department of Intibuca. Intibuca offers some of the best climate in Central America. Here pleasant colonial towns intermingle with small, indigenous towns full of color and folklore. You could say that La Esperanza is the capital of the Lenca Trail. The Honduran indigenous people lack have the colorful costumes and traditions of neighboring Guatemala. Yet, La Esperanza is by far the most colorful and traditional area of the Lenca community. It is also one of the most intriguing areas of Honduras.
La Esperanza is the Capital of the “Lenca Route”
La Esperanza is about 65km from the city of Siguatepeque, which is the halfway point on the San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa highway. With an altitude of one mile over sea level, (1,600 m.) climate here is famous for being the coldest in Honduras. The road from Siguatepeque to La Esperanza is completely paved and in good condition. You can also get to La Esperanza coming from Western Honduras via the colonial city of Gracias. This road is completely paved and quite scenic. The route winds through the western highlands in Honduras. Public transportation between Gracias and La Esperanza has improved and is an alternative to driving your own car.
You will find many pine-clad mountains and pleasant colonial towns around La Esperanza. Here, pre-Columbian traditions mingle with modern ones. The result is a different world from the rest of Honduras. There are many interesting examples of this different and unique world. The Guancasco Festivals are a colorful and ancient tradition. A local indigenous auxiliary city hall, is elected by the local ethnic group. Known as the “Alcaldia de la Vara Alta” this authority represents the Lencas and interacts with the official mayor.
La Esperanza and Intibuca: Sister Cities!
La Esperanza is actually formed be two different cities: La Esperanza and Intibuca. Intibuca is the older one and was once a Lenca community. La Esperanza became a “ladino” community with the passing of time. Most sister cities have a river of creek separating them. Here the line between these cities is a crisscrossing street. Even locals have trouble trying to determine if the are in Intibuca or in La Esperanza! The central park is actually right between them! There are two interesting colonial churches, one in each of the cities. In addition, there is a small shrine in a small cave just above the cities.
The central park is the main community meeting place. Here, you will see Lenca women with their traditional colorful scarves over their heads. Many new hotels have opened up in the area, offering comfortable accommodations. Most hotels are in the downtown area of La Esperanza. Yet, there are a few that are out of town within the lovely pine forests that surround the cities.
The “Real Honduras”
My favorite hotels in La Esperanza are the Hotel Las Margaritas and the Posada Papa Chepe. There are also a variety of nice restaurants in town. Nightlife is limited as there are few bars or discos in town. A good information center at the Casa de la Cultura. There, within the municipality building you will find comprehensive information about the Lenca community and their handicrafts. Among the most unique facts your will find about the Lenca is that the women enjoy working the land. If you take a trip into the country, you will find many women out in the fields. The department of Intibuca is the most important vegetable and potatoes producing area in the country. The Lenca people produce most of the vegetables you will find in the supermarkets in Honduras.
If you are looking to get a glimpse at the authentic rural Honduras, then La Esperanza should be on your travel route. The corridor between Siguatepeque and Santa Rosa de Copan presents a different Honduras. The cities of La Esperanza and Gracias are within this drive. Tourism facilities are growing, and you will have no problem finding a hotel just for your needs. Restaurants, bars and things to do are readily available. Let the adventurer in you out and explore this lovely area of Honduras. I might add that the area is safe and the locals are all friendly. Perhaps the only drawback is that there are few people that speak English.