Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trip Pic of the Day: Omoa

Omoa. A pretty name, but basically a godforsaken little seaside stop-over on the northern shore of Honduras.

There was a motley collection of buitres and chuchos - vultures and street dogs - sitting outside my bedroom door when I opened it on the morning of Saturday the 8th.

The Rough Guide claims that more and more travellers are choosing to spend some time in Omoa, but I saw little evidence of other transient foreigners, though I did get a ride from a resident of Maltese origin who had come here many years ago to pursue an interest in sailing following a career as a London cab driver. Food and accommodation is no bargain here either.

Omoa's most noteworthy feature is the fort of San Fernando de Omoa completed in 1775 to defend the area against English pirates. Five years later the Brits, aided by Miskito Indians thoroughly sacked the town. They initially failed to capture the fort, because the Baymen in the vanguard had somehow misplaced their scaling ladders in the first assault, but after a long bombardment from the Royal Navy ships Lowestoffe and Charon, the garrison was eventually overrun and $2m of treasure filched from Spanish coffers.

This part of the Caribbean is fronted by a line of moderately imposing peaks separated from the shoreline by a narrow plain, perhaps not much more than a mile wide around Omoa. A decade after Mitch the bridges along the road from the border with Guatemala have all now been repaired, but the effects of the hurricane are still visible in the disfigured, boulder-strewn banks of the various little rivers which penetrate through to the sea here.

Large-scale agriculture is more conspicuous on the Guatemalan side of the border, where the road turns south west before joining the main Atlantic highway to Puerto Barrios: on one side there are vast plantations of banana, on the other, Palma Africana, another non-native crop plant from which 25% of the world's vegetable oil is derived.

More pics of Omoa here.

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