There is no question that the Caribbean coast of Honduras is Garifuna territory. The municipality of La Ceiba is no exception and has two different Garifuna villages: Corozal and Sambo Creek. Today I am exploring Corozal, a Garifuna village that I fell in love with. It is very easy to get to Corozal. It stands next to the CA13 highway that interconnects San Pedro Sula with Trujillo, by way of Tela and La Ceiba. There are only 8 km between La Ceiba and Corozal as you head east towards Trujillo. The best time to visit Corozal is during the local fair, which is in honor to our Lord of Esquipulas and takes place in January. Visiting this Garifuna Village during the fair time is in my bucket list and I hope to be back next month!
Corozal is home to approximately 4000 persons, the majority of whom are Garifuna. It is right on the Caribbean coast, just like all the other Garifuna villages. The main economic activity is fishing, although there is also some limited farming. Over time, tourism has become on an important activity in the local economy. As such, local ceibeños love to go to Corozal over the weekend to enjoy Garifuna gastronomy and the local beaches. There are many options for good food in Corozal.
Corozal´s Tourist Zone
The most visited área in Corozal is known as the tourist zone. This zone has fine beaches and great views of Cayos Cochinos. There are also several good restaurants in the area. The Garifuna and sea food specialty restaurants that are most popular are Chamorro´s and Arenas. A few hundred meters past them you will find Chef Tery, a more international restaurant on the beach which is popular with expats who live in La Ceiba. This area is great for enjoying the beach and having a great meal; however, it does not offer an insight into the colorful Garifuna culture.
Here you can order a shot of guifity, a Garifuna alcoholic drink that is regarded as medicinal and even aphrodisiac. Although you can buy a shot or even a bottle of guifity at Chamorro´s, I feel that the authentic experience of drinking this beverage is to do so in a local bar in the village. And this is one of my reasons for exploring Corozal. After a few questions, I found just the right spot: “La Corozaleña”. This bar is owned by a local gentleman and is one of the places where the locals get together to chat and keep up with the local news. Of course, they also meet to have a shot of the local guifity, which locals consider is the best in town.
Exploring Corozal, A Garifuna Village
Paolo David, also known as Marinero is the owner of La Corozaleña. He is a friendly gentleman who explained to me how he prepares guifity. The beverage includes a series of roots, spices and herbs. Once he has carefully put them in a bottle, he fills it with moonshine rum. He not only sells shots of guifity, he can also sell you a bottle of strait guifity or a bottle with all the proper ingredients of guifity for you to take home and fill with your favorite rum or for that matter, any other spirit.
Paolo also has a small hotel in town. Although basic, it affords you the opportunity to stay in town and get to know the culture. His hotel is the Hotel David. Rooms are extremely basic but have a clean private bath. The night is worth only 200 lemps. Without doubt, the best hotel in Corozal is Arenas, which is on the Tourist Zone in Corozal. Another good option nearby is Villa Rhina, which is on the CA13 highway, very close by. However, the atmosphere at Villa Rhina is more of a nature lodge than a Garifuna experience.
Donde La Profe. Local Gastronomy and a Small Museum with Garifuna Artifacts.
While I was exploring Corozal I found a truly interesting business: “Donde La Profe”. A translation would something like “At the teachers”. It is owned by one of the teachers at the elementary school in Corozal. The teacher, who’s family is native to Iriona, in the neighboring department of Colon has been in Corozal many years. She is a community leader who is very proud of the Garifuna heritage. Her husband, Don Nico is an experienced bartender who worked with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for many years. Together they are excellent hosts. Their building retains the charm of the local Garifuna architecture, with thatched roofs and is easy to find in town.
Profesor Maritza has decorated her restaurant with traditional Garifuna artifacts. A visit to her museum, is a gastronomical experience that includes a unique cultural element that introduces you to the Garifuna culture. Her restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am till 12:30 p.m. for lunch and from 5:00 pm till 10:00 pm for dinner. The establishment offers a family friendly environment. However, they also serve beer and some local guifity from La Corozaleña. And don´t forget that Don Nico is a professional bartender! He can mix any drink you might want!
The menu at Donde La Profe includes a variety of soups and seafood dishes. Fresh seafood is always available in Corozal, and the Garifuna culinary experience is outstanding. If you are not into seafood, they also offer beef and chicken dishes. If you into fresh fruit juices, make sure you ask what they have. They always offer tropical fruit juices with vary according to season.
Corozal is a Very Safe Destination!
Safety is one of the most unique aspects of Corozal. People are friendly and they all know each other. You can stroll around town and the beaches and you will not have any problem with safety. Another interesting note is the fact that many natives are trilingual. Yes, the speak Spanish, Garifuna and English! Such is the case of Don Nico, who spent many years in cruise ships. If you are interested in the Garifuna culture, feel free to walk around and explore Corozal. You just may find yourself motivated to explore other Garifuna communities in Atlantida!
As you know, Corozal is right on the beach. From there, it is common to see fishermen arriving from the sea after a fishing session. Most of this produce is sold in the local restaurants or taken home to feed the family. Because of this, it is common for kids to at the beach waiting for their fathers to arrive with the daily catch.