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CANATURH: Sweet Celebration of Two Worlds Joined in a Single Location

August 15, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

A meeting of two worlds is the expression that comes to mind when we think of the moment that Spanish explorers first came to the Americas, two worlds that had existed in parallel without any contact at all, different cultures that blended over time, creating new peoples and ways of thinking. Perhaps this is the basic pattern in all of the Americas, but in a few places in the hemisphere the essence of this moment of encounter is still preserved…

The church in Gracias (PRNewsFoto/CANATURH)

The central western region of Honduras was populated by the Protolencas long before 800 B.C., a culture rich in technological advances that enabled them to build enormous cities with buildings more than 20 meters tall at a time when the Maya city of Copan was still merely a village.  The Lencas, descendants of the Protolencas, are now the ones inhabiting this part of the country, maintaining their ancient culture and traditions, weaving garments, working as goldsmiths and eating their traditional corn-based dishes just as they did in antiquity…

In more recent times, though still long ago, the Spanish came ashore, founded cities and conquered peoples, laid down streets and raised up buildings, spreading their culture and establishing their authority.  This is how the city of Gracias, Lempira, was founded in 1536, in the midst of a predominantly Lenca district, a city that has had since that time a very pronounced ethnic and cultural contrast that can be taken in to this day; and this is how Gracias is becoming the best showcase of national identity, with the indigenous Honduran base assimilating its new component which over time has become one people…

Strolling down the cobbled streets of Gracias and coming into the market is to live this meeting of cultures in the present tense, with the Lenca population buying and selling the fruit of the earth, women with skin bronzed by the sun covering their heads with kerchiefs woven in bright colors of fuchsia, yellow, green and more; walking through the streets of Gracias means contemplating Spanish buildings and old churches in perfect condition, with more than one Christian inside praying for better times; walking through the streets of Gracias means looking out from the turrets of the fortress and feeling that the cannons guarding its entrance are about to be set off; walking through the streets of Gracias means abiding in the imposing shadow of Celaque, Honduras’s highest mountain whose highest peak scrapes the sky, leaving the clouds at its feet…

July has been chosen as national identity month, and Gracias, Lempira, is celebrating big time, offering an opportunity not only to contemplate and experience the magical environment of this city and its inhabitants, but also to enjoy the finest Honduran art, for this is how the festival “Gracias Calling” will take off on July 23, with a vibrant and colorful open-air spectacle where acrobats, people on stilts and fireworks will get things started to the strains of the “National Philharmonic” and songs by Pez Luna.

Five days of celebration without a break, days full of poetry, song, painting, history, dance, five days of sheer life and delight for the soul, time to get to know the Lenca culture, time to savor the world’s best coffee accompanied by delicious corn treats, time to sweeten your palate with dozens of sweets and wines made of fruits from the highlands…

So pack your bag and grab your camera, Gracias, Lempira will take care of the rest.

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