Communications and Media
Regular mail service (Honducor, or correos) between Honduras and other countries is, at best, a lengthy process. Street numbers are almost nonexistent in Honduras, even in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Addresses are usually given as on “X” Calle between “Y” and “Z” Avenidas, or on “X” Calle next to the church, etc. Miraculously, mail does get delivered, though expect to wait anywhere from two to four weeks to receive mail or have it reach its destination. Packages of up to two kilograms can be sent regular mail.
Many post offices now have Express Mail Service (EMS), which reliably sends letters and documents of less than 250 grams to the United States in 3–4 days for US$10–15, depending on the destination, or to Europe in 4–5 days for US$20–25.
It’s possible to receive mail general delivery in any post office in the country. The letters should be addressed to your name, Lista de Correos, town, department, Honduras. A fee of a couple of lempiras is charged when the mail is collected. Usually, offices will hold letters a couple of months, or longer if you advise them ahead of time to await your arrival.
The best places to receive mail general delivery are in large towns—though mail may get lost in the chaos of correos in San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa, it may never make it out to small towns or villages.
Three of the big international couriers, UPS, Federal Express, and DHL, all have offices in the largest cities and charge a whopping US$35 or so to send documents to the United States in three days. Several low-priced courier services catering to Hondurans with relatives in the states, like Urgente Express, send letters to the United States in about the same amount of time, but for only US$3 or so, and are generally reliable. Within Honduras, packages can be sent quickly and reliably between most towns in one or two days for US$3–7 by Expreco, with offices all over the country.
Hondutel, the notoriously inefficient national telecommunications company, has offices in every town. Efforts to privatize Hondutel have been ongoing for several years, but as of yet with no success.
The best way to place an international call is at an Internet café. Just about every Internet café in the country has telephone service now, usually charging around US$0.10 a minute to the United States (sometimes more, sometimes less—shop around) or US$0.20 a minute to Europe—a huge discount from making calls with Hondutel or one of the international companies.
Many foreigners who spend some time in Honduras end up getting a cellular phone, because land lines are so problematic. You can get a phone for US$25 or less, and prepaid cards in amounts of US$5 or less. Tigo and Digicel are the leading service providers; just stop by any shop carrying their goods. Cell phone rental is available at the airport in Roatán.
Internet cafés are springing up all over Honduras at an impressive rate, with multiple cafés even in smaller towns, and sometimes even in villages. Rates are usually around US$1 per hour, usually prorated by the minute (although sometimes not, so make sure to check), with the exception of on the Bay Islands where service is more expensive (US$2–3). Connection speeds vary dramatically but are usually more related to the time of day and system traffic than the quality of the hardware in different cafés.
Newspaper reporting in Honduras is a simplistic affair, with little investigation beyond rewriting press releases, and often not even doing that accurately. Most stories are exceedingly short on hard facts and numbers and long on quoting the empty phrases of politicians. But local papers are nonetheless well worth reading to get a better feeling for the main events and trends of Honduran society. It’s good practice for Spanish, too. The five main daily newspapers in Honduras are La Prensa, La Tribuna, El Periódico, El Heraldo, and Tiempo. All are owned by politicians (La Tribuna is owned by ex-president Flores) and tend to favor one or the other of the two main political parties. Some articles can be incredibly slanted. La Prensa, which is published in San Pedro, has more of a business angle and comes the closest to balanced coverage of national news. This paper also has 2–3 pages of international news, including some international sports coverage. El Heraldo, the main Tegucigalpa paper, also often features several pages of international wire copy.
Newspapers are usually sold on the street in small stands or merely on a designated street corner, and often sell out by midday. A welcome find for foreign travelers is the English-language weekly newspaper, Honduras This Week. Unlike many expatriate-oriented newspapers in the Americas, Honduras This Week covers issues of importance to the nation and doesn’t shy away from touchy topics like corruption and the military. The paper also has useful information for travelers and interesting features. It’s sold (or often given away) at higher-priced hotels and tourist-oriented stores. The newspaper has an excellent website at www.hondurasthisweek.com.
Eleven television and 176 radio stations operate in Honduras. The president’s channel is Channel 8. Cable television is widely available.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition