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Honduras: Breeding Ground for Opportunity

By: Monique Brown - Jan 26, 2014, 9:09 pm

EspañolBefore coming to Honduras, all I had was secondhand information, and it wasn’t good news at all. The portrait painted was that of high-crime, corruption, and great poverty. This is true; Honduras does have these problems, but that is not the whole story. Let me tell what else I have discovered about Honduras since moving here.

valle-de-angeles
Valle de Angeles, Honduras. Source: GrahamPBrown.com.

Yes, making the move for us, with a toddler, was a bold action. But despite what people think, living here is not that big a deal. For instance, if your main concern is security, as long as you live in a secure “residencial,” and have your own car, you seem to be safe. The mugging seems to happen on the streets or in the buses. The crime Hondurans seem most afraid of is housebreaking, and it can be totally avoided if you live in such a secured area. Our hope is that such safety will be available for all someday soon.

The Honduran experience starts even before you set foot on Honduran soil, at least when landing at Tegucigalpa’s airport. I thought it was sweet how the other passengers gave the pilot a round of applause after landing. Turns out it’s not just politeness: Toncontin is the second most dangerous international airport in the World. Everyone was simply thanking the pilot for keeping us all alive!

Driving in Honduras can be a bit challenging for sure. The main rule for the traffic is: whatever you do, avoid the potholes! Need to drive on the wrong side of the road to avoid a pothole? Well, do it. Everyone else seems to.

The food here is glorious; I have never seen such big fruit and vegetables in my life. The locally produced goods are juicy, large, and eye catching. The water system reminds us that this place is still a developing country. Tap water is not drinkable, and you need to add Biocide to it for washing vegetables. But then that is available in the supermarkets, so that’s not a big problem. Another thing I find interesting is the lack of proper addresses. So on a business card of a restaurant, you will find that their address is “on the main road to the airport, behind McDonalds.” In only a tiny number of places will you find street names combined with numbers.

The Bay Islands of Honduras and the Caribbean side are heavenly and gorgeous, by all accounts. We will be visiting as soon as we can. Over all, Honduras is a good and pleasant place to live. I’ve been surprised by Honduras, perhaps because my expectations were so low. We can hardly deny that Honduras is a developing country: the badly maintained roads; the way cars are (or aren’t!) maintained; the kids begging and working by themselves in the streets — it all paints a picture of low social and economic development, at least at the moment.

The prospect of Startup Cities has generated a huge interest in Honduras. People are actually writing to us to find out about moving here. I believe that these zones are an opportunity to change a lot of lives for the better through free-market commerce, so I’m highly motivated to help others who want to be part of it. And it is something my family and I have been working towards for over two years, so we really want to see it happen.

Growing up in Brazil showed me that difficulties and lack of development are breeding grounds for opportunity. I think what Hondurans often forget is that if something is bad or dysfunctional today, there is nothing stopping it from improving in the future. In Honduras, the feeling of “nothing will ever change” is immense. Many people just do not believe that new things will work or things can improve. And it appears that, in most cases, it does not matter what social class or level of wealth people have. They seem to me to have created an invisible shield of pessimism and disbelief that stops them working towards improving Honduras, even when that’s what they really want.

I do not want to sound like a “rampant gringa,” because I feel I’m a kindred spirit with Hondurans. As I said, I am Brazilian, so I feel very Latin and also come from a developing country, with its own problems. When people ask me what I think about Honduras, I always say that the biggest asset Honduras has is the people — if they only knew it! If they only knew that the energy they use believing things can’t change, can be the same energy that can be used to make things change.

For us Startup Cities or LEAP zone enthusiasts, it is so clear that these zones can bring change and improvement to this country, and, if we want to dream bigger, these zones may, in time, change the whole world. But most Hondurans don’t see this project for what it is — rather, through their feelings about their politicians. It seems most people feel the government cannot be trusted, and maybe that is perfectly understandable, but this change had to originate from inside the government. After all, it required a constitutional change.

But everyone agrees that change in Honduras is no longer optional. And it may be that some políticos who support this had personal agendas, but regardless of this, the ZEDE law has now passed. So now there is something at hand that could bring the jobs, security, and prosperity that some many Hondurans need.

So this why we are here. And hopefully one day, perhaps, I will return to Brazil and say, “hey, look at what Honduras did! Now we can do the same here!”

This article first appeared on GrahamPBrown.com.