Celebrating 215 Years of Garifuna Presence in Honduras

Also known as Black Caribs, the Garifuna arrived in Honduras, more specifically the Bay Islands, in 1797, after a lengthy struggle and final revolt against the French and English. Although the Garifuna only make up 1% of the Honduran population, their presence is hard to miss. Rich with culture, the Garifuna appear to be very proud of their vivid history and traditions.

Walking the dusty main street of the quaint Garifuna fishing village of Santa Fe, the sense of community and excitement lingers in the air. Women bustle about the street in colorful headscarves and flowing skirts heading towards the beach. Opportunistic street meat venders are set up for the day selling greasy but oh so good French fries and chorizo. The normally quiet shack known as Caballeros, referred to as Pete’s by the locals, is crowded with people escaping the scorching sun and quenching their thirst. Mark and I make our way past the vendors selling handmade jewelry and trinkets to the giant white tents shading the beach where the official festivities celebrating 215 years of Garifuna presence in Honduras are being held.

President Pepe Lobo has already arrived and sits at the head of a large table up on a platform next to Noel, our mayor. He is even dressed for the occasion in a traditional green and yellow tunic. Looking around at the gathering of government officials – from the president, to the ministers, to the mayors – Santa Fe has transformed from small fishing village to political capital of Honduras for the day. The meeting is already underway and from what I pick up, most requests made by the people are for electricity and improved education. As the meeting draws to a close, there are several smiles and men eagerly shaking each other’s hands. Then the attention shifts to a small, rectangular stage set up down the way from the meeting. The group of attractive young Garifuna chosen to perform are dressed in bright blues and greens. The women and men spring to life in dance when the musicians begin to play their rich sounding drums. They all join together in song in their native language and roar above the general buzz of the on looking crowd. I stand, unable to look away as they shake their backsides in rhythm with the music and move their feet in foreign steps.

After the first couple of performances, the president is called to the stage, and as luck has it, I happen to be right in his path. I am determined to shake his hand and kiss his cheek; however, a girl in front of me actually throws her self at him and steals a picture. With every intention of getting a picture with him as well, I smile as he draws closer and Mark volunteers to take a photo. He kindly obliges and then makes his way to the stage.

After a day of chowing down on street meat, snapping photos, enjoying Garifuna singing and dancing, and obtaining my own personal photo with the president of Honduras, we are ready to call it a day. Upon arriving back to Banana Beach, we can still hear the drums in full force for what is sure to be the whole night. It’s not everyday that the president comes to town to honor the presence of such a rich culture thriving in Honduras.


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The Road Newly Traveled

Well, I’ve done it again. Continent hopping seems to be a hobby of mine – first a Latin Immersion program in Santiago, Chile, then studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain and now living and working in Santa Fe, Colon, Honduras. I discovered a rustic, new piece of paradise, a little place I like to call the Banana Beach Resort in Trujillo Bay. So, how did an American/Canadian from Texas like me end up way down here in Central America? Well, it all started with my father, Rand Popp.

The year was 1995. Sitting on the deck in Dallas with his feet up, puffing on his cigar, an article in International Living highlighting Honduras as one of the top two retirement destinations in the world captured my dad’s attention. Working since the age of ten, my father habitually fuels his creative mind pursuing challenging new ventures. An entrepreneur, an architect, a businessman, a dream weaver, a risk taker, and a father – Rand embodies these all. Needless to say, within a year of reading this article, he hopped a plane to San Pedro Sula, Honduras where he rented a car and set out driving along the northern coast with merely a Spanish map as his guide. When he reached the lush, wild rainforest that gave way to a sprawling beach and clear, midnight blue water, he knew he’d landed in that very spot for a purpose. The picturesque property was soon bought and the idea of Banana Beach was born.

Little by little Rand shaped his vision into a reality. Every year he returned to Honduras to build on his dream. Finally, in 2008, he wished Texas farewell and moved to the town of Santa Fe full time to pour his energy into his slice of paradise where he still resides today. This brings us to me.

Growing up, I always had one goal in mind when it came to choosing a career path: money and a lot of it. Being the planner that I am, I laid the foundation perfectly to attain my end goal. I am an alumnus of the respected McCombs School of Business at the fine University of Texas at Austin. I studied business marketing and held two internships during my college career so as to prepare myself for so-called “Corporate America.” Well, guess what? When graduation day came, two untraveled paths lay before me: accepting an offer from an esteemed company in downtown Austin, Texas or taking my father up on his proposition to run the marketing and sales of his growing business in Honduras.

Well, we all know I wouldn’t be writing this blog had I chosen the road more frequently traveled. The truth is, somewhere along the way of my college career I realized that, for me, working on a project I am truly excited and passionate about is enormously more important than the number on my paycheck or job security. So here I am sitting at my new desk working away at my computer with a view of the rich green rainforest out the window to my right and the welcoming white, sandy beach to my left. I have no idea what lies ahead or what challenges I may be faced with, but I do know one thing for certain. I am part of an amazing team here at the Banana Beach Resort. I am very excited to help build the family business and for all of the work that lies ahead.

Join me on my new adventure off the beaten path!

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