Sunday, March 16, 2008

Semana Santa - Heaven or Hell?

Next week is the most holiest week in Christian religion….Easter, or, in Honduras (and Spanish speaking countries) Semaña Santa.

While the rest of the world carries on with daily activity, activity in Honduras comes to a screeching halt. Government offices, for the most part, are closed all week. Yes, you heard me, all week. Hotels are full and if you want a room for a day or two that week, forget it. You must book the whole week. Airlines have sold out all their seats and even the ferry running from the Mainland to the islands are at full capacity. People get a couple of extra days off that week and use them to go to the beaches in droves and, in general, take a week off for sun, fun, getting together with the family and, yes, some even realize what this week is all about.

But that is not the reason for my Blog! Oh, no. On Guanaja, Semaña Santa is considered the time for all of the people to pile in their boats and make a pilgrimage to the beaches.

It is amazing. We have some beautiful beaches here with crystal water and wonderful underwater reefs. But, for the most part, the people of this island rarely go to the beach to picnic and swim! This is the one time of the year the beaches are, well, simply packed! People set up booths on the beach for food and drink. Whole families pile into their boat (usually way overloaded) and take their towels, blankets, food, drink, bug spray, suntan lotion and head to “the other side” which, in this case, is the northwest side of the island.

The stores do a big business this time of year selling beach products and everyone is out to have a good time. It is truly a holiday for families.

But wait! What is the hell side you say?

Well, we generally get our food supplies brought to the island on a boat from the Mainland on Friday. The week of Semaña Santa a special effort is made to bring a boat at the beginning of the week because there will be no boats on Thursday or Good Friday of that week. So, this past Friday we all went to town expecting to replenish our food supplies only to find out that the boat coming to the island ran aground leaving the LaCeiba channel, tipped on its side and lost most of the product. Not only were store owners and people that had items on the boat upset, they were upset because the same Captain piloting this boat was the Captain of the Captain Andrew that sunk off the coast of Guanaja the end of last year! Twice in about 6 months our supply boat has either gone down or lost all of the cargo with this Captain. People are not happy. Now, there is rumor that a boat will be here Tuesday with fresh food and other supplies but, for the most part, the store owners cannot begin to scramble and replace those items lost for the Semaña Santa sales. So, we are hoping the boat comes Tuesday at least to get some fresh produce.

Next, if you want to get off this island during the week of Semaña Santa and have not made Airlines reservations well in advance - forget it! I have known this fact for years and have told people that if they plan on visiting the island for a vacation, DO NOT DO IT THE WEEK OF Semaña Santa. Even if you could get an airline reservation, the few hotels we have here are absolutely full here along with those on the Mainland. This simply means that if you fly into the country and are stuck because you cannot get a flight to the island, you have no where to stay because the hotels are all booked on the Mainland too!

So, why didn’t I think of this fact and heed my own advice when I made flight reservations from San Pedro Sula to Orlando, Florida on the 25th of March? Because I DIDN’T THINK! You got it, my mind went blank, stupidity took over and I thought if I went to the airline office the week of March 10th I could make a reservation to get off the island on March 22nd! Foolish girl! Everyone was booked. The ferry is putting on an extra trip or two that week to get people to and from here to the Mainland but if I took the ferry, which I am not really inclined to do for many, many reasons, I would have to take a bus from Trujillo to LaCeiba, find a hotel (HA) to stay in and/or get a flight from LaCeiba to San Pedro (HA). I thought I might get on with some friends leaving the island on their private plane to Roatan, but they were full. Either way, I would have had to take the ferry and/or get a plane from Roatan to LaCeiba and/or San Pedro.

It was looking pretty gloomy for me. So, I finally did want any normal thinking person would do….I contacted the airline for my U.S. portion and changed the flight date! Simple huh? Well, I didn’t do it to begin with because I was afraid that because the price of the ticket I would not be allowed to make changes and, if so, it would cost a whole lot more! As it was, I could change the date for a small fee and all is well. Heck I even managed to call the local airline office on the island and book a flight to San Pedro from the island on Tuesday, the 25th! Hooray.

Now, all I have to do is make sure that the person making my reservation on the local airline has done his job. In the past this same individual has messed my reservations up three times because he did not confirm my seat on the connecting flight! So, Monday morning I call the office again and get the other person who works there to check my reservation for me. I guess my mind is working again.

So, except for the “food” thing, my problems have been solved. Now, I wonder where I’m going to get my chocolate bunny?


  1. Hi Sharon, I'm so glad you got it worked out.

    The name Semana Santa should be changed! There isn't much holy about this week in Honduras.

  2. I must agree. They seem to forget what Easter represents. Instead they are out drinking and partying. While I don't find fault with going to the beach and the family getting together, there are lots of other weekends to do that and leave this one to celebrate the meaning of Easter. Of course you find the same thing in the states, however there they don't take off a week and don't turn Easter Sunday into a drink feast!

  3. Dang. The good news is that you got a second grocery boat up and running. The bad news is that Omar is still the captain. Sheesh. Sometimes you really have to wonder, eh?

    Sorry to hear about "Hell Week" (and wouldn't God love to know how Easter is being celebrated in that part of the country?). I suggest laying in a one-month supply of "emergency rations" like we used to do in our fallout shelters back inte 1960's. That way, next time Omar flips the boat over or gets lost on the route from Ceiba to Guanaja, you'll still have something to eat.

    Ah, what's not to love about Guanaja?

  4. Semana Santa! That's whe my stuff was stolen last year. While everyone was out having fun the theieves were casing their planned targets! But, even with that said I wish I was back to enjoy the week, go to the beach, visit Graham's, and in general just be in paradise! I miss you guys. I'm glad you got your flight worked out. Do you know that when I had to go home early earlier this month the airlines did not charge me ANYTHING for the change? I was amazed. I hope to see you guys as soon as the doctor tells me I can go! Hopefully in the next two weeks. How is Klaus?