Live Inspired: Chemex, craft beer and joy in the world’s most violent city

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

The barista arrived at my leather banquette table armed with a tray full of equipment.

The pourover stand, with a glass decanter at its base. A stainless kettle with a delicate, gooseneck spout. A canister of the coffee itself, which she allowed me to whiff before beginning the precise brewing process, ensuring the shape and stream of the water flow was optimal for my single perfect cup.

Around me, bright murals covered the walls. Edison lights hung from the ceiling. Japanese siphon contraptions, which were also used to brew this organic java, were strategically placed around the cafe, like art.

I was in San Pedro Sula, dubbed “the most violent city on Earth.”

And I was having a lovely time.

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Thanks to a long, complicated and overwhelming negative history of U.S. influence in Honduras, the reactions on the ground aren’t as straight-forward as one might expect.

At the top of Rotulo Coca Cola, where the heat of the city weakens with altitude and the pavement edges up against the jungle, a plateau rises from the mass of banana trees.

From here, all of San Pedro Sula, Honduras looks small — a city of almost a million stretched beneath the humid haze, its raucous soundtrack replaced by the drone of crickets.

“It looks so peaceful from here,” Eduardo Hermida said, overlooking his home town. “That’s why I like it.

“From here, it looks like everything down there is going well.”

Live Inspired: A Tegucigalpa welcoming

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

I had taken a wrong turn.

In search of Castillo Belluci, a crumbling Italian-built castle in the hills of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, I had stumbled past a great iron gate. It seemed to be the right area of the Leona neighborhood. It seemed a gate worthy of such an attraction. So I walked right in.

…And abruptly found myself in someone’s front yard. Beyond the plant-lined stairway where I stood, a man and two women sat at a long, al fresco table, slowly savoring a bottle of wine. Seeing a gringa suddenly appear in their garden, they raised their arms.

“Venga,” come on down, the man called. “Esta es su casa.”

Realizing my mistake and, assuming the sentiment about it being my house to be sarcasm, I covered my face with my hands. “Ay perdon, perdon,” I shouted. But as I spun to leave, they called again, dramatically gesturing with their arms that I join them.

I wondered, for a moment, whether they were expecting someone else and had confused me for their guest.

Soon, I saw there wasn’t any misunderstanding at all: by crashing into their lives, rather, I had become their guest. They had watched a confused, white tourist barge into their garden, and they simply chose to respond with such graciousness that I felt I had been bound there, all along.

Live Inspired: a necessary education (cat calling and the machismo culture in Honduras)

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Perhaps it really started to sink in with the boy, appearing to be all of 11 or 12 years old.

As I approached him on the street in Gracias, Honduras, he made a show of eyeing me. He pursed his lips together as I walked past and made the exaggerated kissing noises I had become so accustomed to hearing.

“Mami,” he called, sneering and looking to his young friend for reaction.

It was my 17th such incident that day — hearing “pssts” and “wows” as I walked to the bank; absorbing “I love yous” as I searched for a place to eat lunch; receiving the hard stares and persistent chatter of professional predators as I walked around, taking photos.

But it was this preteen, years from sprouting his first chin hairs, that really drove home the point.

Here in Honduras, there is no Me Too movement. Feminism is not trendy nor visible. And the piropos (cat calling)? It’s systemic. It’s so engrained in the culture that the habit is picked up by kids who haven’t even learned what it really means.

Live Inspired: In Gracias, change

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Shortly after I arrived in Gracias, Honduras last week and enthusiastically began posting photos of this beautiful colonial town brimming with red-tiled roofs and pristine, cafe-filled parks, someone on Instagram messaged me to ask a simple question:

Why was everything in Gracias so clean and well-kept and, well, so very different than where I had previously stayed, in Puerto Cortes?

My instinct was to say that like most places in this world, Honduras possesses range and dimension.

“Why are places in the US different from each other?” I countered. “Every place has variance.”

Live Inspired: On to Honduras

• In partnership with John Reamer & Associates

Last Friday, I departed Belize for Honduras.

Whenever I move on to a new country, I always get those jitters, that feeling of newness and change and excitement and anticipation of what to expect (since I rarely know or have time to exhaustively research any town).

But with Honduras, it was a little bit different. 

After a couple months in Belize, I was getting accustomed to a certain reaction when I told people I was traveling to the country most known around the world for its extreme poverty and recently, a migrant caravan that trekked more than 2,500 miles to the U.S. border around the time of the 2018 midterm elections (many of the migrants have given up on gaining entry, deciding to stay in Mexico or go home).

“Why?” many Belizeans asked me. “Why would you go?” 

I was finding, in many places, that the stereotypes we sometimes consider uniquely North American persist throughout Central America too.