If you visit La Ceiba and spend the night in one of the downtown hotels, be ready to be woken by the siren. The Siren in La Ceiba is unlike those many cities in the world, where a siren means danger. The one we have in La Ceiba is more like a clock, and helps you know what time it is. This is different to many cities in Latin America, where the church bells tolling let you know what time it is.
In the old days, when the Standard Fruit Company of Honduras was the main employer in La Ceiba, the siren indicated different things. It let the workers know it was time to be in their work. But it also let them know when it was lunch time, or when the work day came to an end. The Standard Fruit Company is no longer the main employer in town. Furthermore, today everybody has a cell phone and does not need help knowing what time it is.
Many years ago, I was staying overnight at the Hotel VIP Siesta on Avenida 15 de Septiembre. The hotel no longer operates as such, but is next to the Central Bank of Honduras office. Behind it, is the Mazapan neighborhood in La Ceiba. In the old days, this was “La Zona Americana” or the American Zone. This is where all the high executives of the Standard Fruit Company lived in. It still is a gated community for the Company and its top staff members. But getting back to my story, I remember hearing the siren early in the morning and thinking the alarm had gone off at the Central Bank’s offices. The next morning I heard it again.
To this day, the siren goes off at 7 am letting the employees know it’s time to work. The siren also works for the Masapan School, announcing the start of classes in school. The siren goes off daily at 7 am, again at 11 am and then at noon time and at 4pm. The Standard Fruit Company workers still use it to know when its time to go back to work or they can go home.
It you are staying at one of the Downtown La Ceiba Hotels, you will hear the siren go off. So at least you know what it means! Nobody is robbing a bank. Much less is there an inbound missile attack under way. It is only a call to show up at work every morning! This is good news! If you happen to be woken by the siren, there is no need to jump out of bed in a hurry! Unless of course, you are working at the Standard Fruit Company de Honduras. If this is the case, you are officially late!