Traveling Honduras: The vitality of Cayos Cochinos
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- Published on January 20, 2023
- Last Updated March 17, 2023
- In Places
Columnist Renée Cheréz travels the paradise of Honduras’ Caribbean coast.
In movement across place, paradise often describes a place that is covered by perfectly rooted, tower-sized palm trees surrounded by translucent green-emerald waters with the sweet and saltiness of the land and sea wrapping the air. It is a place where golden beams blaze down and energize all that has the chance to feel its presence, acting as a balm for whatever and whoever needs healing.
As my journey in Honduras continued with a day trip to Cayos Cochinos, this sprawling archipelago revealed itself to be just that, paradise.
But, in keeping with the thread of surprise that the country decidedly delivers, there was a twist. Consisting of two islands, Cayo Grande and Cayo Menor, and 13 smaller cays, Cayos Cochinos is a vital marine protected area of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, also known as the Great Mayan Reef. Stretching more than 600 miles along the Caribbean coast along México, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, it is the second largest barrier reef in the world home to hundreds of fish and coral species.
With no cars or bikes allowed on Cayo Menor or Cayo Grande and strict enforcement of how close boats are allowed within the reef area, its beauty—both on land and below the sea—is undoubtedly due to being the least disturbed ecosystem in this part of the Caribbean with its translucent blue-green mosaic waters as evidence.
The care of this archipelago, of this land, is a community effort. Between The Honduras Coral Reef Fund, which manages these islands, the Cayos Cochinos Foundation, the local Garifuna people who live in the fishing village of Cayo Chachahuate, as well as volunteers from around the world, all are responsible for the work of preserving its rich biodiversity.
Once you meet the people behind the scenes, like Andrea a local marine biologist and scuba instructor whose passion for the water and the children of the cays shined through during our day together as well as Ana Morales whose knowledge, warmth, passion, and joy radiated as we danced, broke bread, and experienced paradise together.
I’ve been to enough places now to know that paradise is not only what idyllic postcards show or what appears on social media.
Cayos Cochinos demonstrated that to be a true paradise, there is community and there is care. There are questions like “how can we take care of each other?” And the other is not reserved for humanness but includes the trees, the dogs, the water, the fish, and the reefs. Because what Cayos Cochinos seemingly practices is the need for the other and that care, is in fact, a verb.
Renée Cheréz, also known as the Travel Liberationist is a writer who expresses her thoughts, experiences, and stories at the intersections of joy, travel, Black liberation, and the pursuit of more life. She is a mermaid, child, storyteller, adventurer, and lover of mountain gorillas. Her work has been published in The Huffington Post, Geez Magazine, Sister Letter, Lonely Planet, and more. You can find her come up to the surface from her living on IG: reneecherez.