Cofradía is a small community in northwestern Honduras. It is located about 10 miles from San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second largest city. While San Pedro is accessible from town, Cofradía is far removed from city life. Home to approximately 40,000 people, Cofradía is full of friendly residents, colorful homes, beautiful flowering hedges, towering palm trees and dusty, unpaved roads occupied by wandering chickens and dogs. The center of town is usually packed with people and traffic, as people go about their daily errands to the local supermarket, vegetable stands, and little shops. The residents of town come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and some families are truly destitute. The community is surrounded by lush green mountains, and the weather is typically hot and sunny. The rainy season is from November to January, when it downpours almost every evening.
Honduras is the second largest country in Central America and is also one of the poorest countries of Latin America. Over 60% of the population is living below the United Nations established poverty line and many employed Hondurans only make about $183 dollars a month. Statistically, only 40% of the population in Honduras is economically active. Many others are not officially employed, and work odd jobs or as vendors. Some of the highest paying jobs in Honduras are only available to people with a working knowledge of the English language. An effective bilingual education can be a family’s only ticket out of poverty.
In 2012, a law was made in Honduras that requires all public schools to teach English starting in Pre-K. While the government recognizes the benefits of a bilingual education, Honduran public schools are unfortunately ill-equipped to provide an effective English education. Most English teachers in Honduras are not native speakers. These teachers are generally Honduran-taught and often lack proficiency in pronunciation and speaking. As a result, a common method of teaching English is rote learning and memorization of specific vocabulary lists. This is ineffective and leads to very limited language acquisition. Students are left with a poor grasp of the English language and the inability to speak the language with fluency.
(Statistics and Information from Instituto Nacional de Estadística based on information from the Banco Central de Honduras, as well as as “Treating English Fever,” by Eric Herman)
Things to do and see in Honduras
Volunteer teachers receive 2 weeks vacation at Christmas and 1 week at Easter. In addition to this there are a number of 3 or 4 day weekends due to public holidays. The following destinations are all accessible by volunteers on weekends or long weekends (except for the Bay Islands). In addition to these destinations past volunteers have travelled, during vacations, to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cuba, Belize, the Mosquito Coast and Mexico.
Tela is a beach town on the north coast of Honduras just a 2 hour bus journey from Cofradia. From Tela you can take day trips to beautiful beaches, wildlife reserves, Garifuna villages or just enjoy the restaurants, shops and nightlife available in town.
La Ceiba is the third largest city in Honduras and is a 3-4 hour bus journey from Cofradia. La Ceiba is the adventure sports centre of Honduras. On day trips you can go hiking in the rainforest, wildlife watching, white water rafting, horseback riding, zip lining and on rainforest canopy tours. La Ceiba also hosts La Feria de San Isidro in May. It is the largest carnival in Honduras and, some say, in all of Central America!
Cayos Cochinos are comprised of 2 small islands and 13 little cays. They are located a short distance off the north coast of Honduras. With white sand beaches, turquoise water and palm trees galore they are the epitome of Caribbean beauty. Nearby reefs also make for excellent snorkelling. Most islands are off limits to tourists as they are protected by the national park, however, on one island there lives a small Garifuna community which you can visit for the day or overnight.
The Bay Islands are located an hour by boat from La Ceiba. Life on the Bay Islands is a world apart from mainland Honduras. The best diving in Central America is available here on the second largest reef system in the world and it is also one of the cheapest places in the world to gain your PADI diving qualification. The islands also offer excellent beaches, restaurants and nightlife.
Copan Ruinas is a beautiful cobblestone town 3-5 hours by bus from Cofradia. Just 10 minutes walk from Copan Ruinas is the Copan archaeological site, the only major Maya site in Honduras. The ruins are home to some of the world’s best preserved Maya carvings. You can also visit hot springs near to Copan and there are opportunities for hiking too.
Lago de Yojoa is Honduras’ largest and most beautiful lake. It is a 2-4 hour bus journey from Cofradia depending on the area you wish to visit. There are fantastic bird watching opportunities around the lake, hiking trails and an impressive waterfall.
Cusuco National Park is an beautiful cloud forest located just 2 hours away in the mountains surrounding Cofradia. The park has abundant wildlife and a number of different hiking trails, waterfalls and swimming holes. It also provides volunteers with a welcome escape from the heat of Cofradia!