Campamento is known as the door or face of Olancho, as it's the first town you reach in the department when you travel east from Tegucigalpa. It falls exactly 100km from the capital city, meaning a trip to the PC office will generally take 2-3 hours, depending on how much Red Bull the bus driver has had for breakfast. With over 10,000 people in the town proper and 20,000 total counting the outlying villages, Campamento is more than your average small Honduran town, it's a bit of an oasis. One of the first things I noticed as we drove through town on my first day was that it was very clean. Missing was the accumulation of trash on the sides of the roads and in peoples' yards that I'd become accustomed to. Also, the main thoroughfare through town is paved, a bit of a rare luxury. A number of other things stood out, including La Picona (a hill with a cross on it overlooking town), the beautifully manicured central park, and the imposing stone Catholic Church.
|Panoramic view of town|
(Click to view larger version)
The town lies in and amongst large hills of pine forest, which make for and provide stunning views. They also provide the bulk of the townsfolk's income, as people are heavily reliant on the wood. Campamento has more carpenters (upwards of 100 different woodworking shops) than any other town in the country, with their main products being doors and furniture. Coffee is the other major industry, as the rolling hills outside of town, reaching upwards of 1,500m in altitude, are perfect for growing coffee beans.
|View of town from La Picona|
I have been trying to take advantage of the aforementioned La Picona as a means to start my day with some exercise, and to avoid the sapping heat of midday. A friend and I have recently been climbing the stairs on a fairly frequent basis around 6:30am. I also like to head up there to make phone calls home, as cell service is best up there and I enjoy walking amongst the pine forest that looms over town.
|The Municipality building in blue,|
elementary school in pink
The last window on the right side of the Muni looks into my office
Campamento's central park is by far the most impressive I've seen yet in Honduras. My host Mom, Mirna, takes on a lot of the landscaping duties, constantly adding new flowers and plants. The park is a good place to experience local culture, especially around nightfall as people gather to eat up the tasty baleadas, hot dogs, and french fries being hawked by vendors in food trucks. It's refreshing to see people really take advantage of the park as it's meant to be used, a gathering place for friends and family to spend time together.
|The Muni on the left,|
Central Park on the right
|Central Park on the left,|
la Iglesia Santa Ana on the right
|The Catholic Church, shadowed by La Picona|
There are several food options in town, and all quite good. Spend between $2.50-4.00 for plato tipico, the standard meal of meat, refried beans, eggs, tortillas, avocado. The highest touted restaurant is El Sitio Real, which boasts an expansive menu of local delights, including turtle eggs. There are a handful of well-run comedors that offer ambience like you can't experience anywhere else, mainly because the dining area is in someone's house. Six kilometers outside of town (to the meter, I know because I rode the whole way back home on my bike in a torrential downpour this past Saturday), there is Guayapito, a restaurant where you can catch your own lunch. Simply rent a fishing pole, catch some tilapia, and the cooks will fry it up for you.
|We even have a Chinese restaurant!|
Though the food is about as close to being actual
Chinese food as American Chinese food is...
As for nighttime entertainment, you can always walk into one of the many billares, or billiard halls, for a quick game of pool and a beer. The Peace Corps does frown on spending any time in those, however, as they are generally quite shady. If that's not your cup of tea, it's best to wait for the weekend as that's when both Bambu and the Coctel Club are open. Bambu, the local discoteca, brings in bands from all over Honduras and has a large dance floor for gringos to embarrass themselves on. Coctel Club is more of a lounge in the American sense, though it too has a dance floor for the occasional live band.
|One of ten billares|
|The ultra modern Coctel Club!|
Being in what is considered a large-sized Peace Corps site, I am lucky because I have access to pretty much anything I would need shopping-wise, albeit at higher prices than Tegucigalpa or Juticalpa, the two nearest cities. There are a couple bodegas, or grocery stores, which have the staple food. I stock up on fruit, vegetables, and tilapia every Saturday at the local farmer's market. I've made friends with a butcher and get beef and chicken from him. So, I've got access to food and will soon be able to cook it to taste as I've signed up for a free 20 hour class to learn how to cook Honduran food properly!
|One of three mototaxis that will take|
you anywhere in town for roughly 25c
I find it very easy to get in, around, and out of Campamento. It's located off the highway, with buses running to and from Tegucigalpa hourly, if not more frequently. Seeing as it's a small town, walking is the best way to take everything in; however, you can also take a mototaxi anywhere in town for L.5 if you're feeling especially sapped by the heat. On which note, from what I've been told and experienced so far, Campamento has one of the nicer climates in all of Honduras. Typically, the weather is sunny and warm, around 85 degrees, though there is a massive obvious difference when you're in the shade. You're guaranteed a shower every day during the rainy season (May-November). Recently it has rained between 4-6pm every day, with occasional downpours falling outside that time frame. I quite enjoy finding a good, dry perch to sit and watch storms roll in over the hills and provide a refreshing reprieve from the low-hanging Honduran sun.
|Always making improvements; I helped my host Mom|
plant trees along the newly-paved 'boulevard'
while my nephew Jorge hung out in the background
Inspired to visit?? I've got a colchon (4" thick sleeping pad) with your name on it! If you want to read more about Campamento, you can find frequent updates on the Municipality's website.