Honduras has a reputation for violence. People see the consistently high homicide rate, read the scare stories and tend to steer clear. It remains one of the few countries where travellers are still nervous to visit. The stigma that has lifted somewhat in Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia, still hangs over Honduras. Of course, there are inherent dangers in Honduran society, but it need not elicit such a fearful response. Honduras has a real problem with gang warfare, brought about by the drug trade to the United States. Turf wars routinely claim lives. But in the midst of all this violent warfare, there is another fight that the country is losing: the conservation battle.
Imagine being cast away on a desert island. A light breeze drifts through your hair as you survey the clear, blue waters of the vast ocean. The soft, white sand feels pleasantly warm on the soles of your feet and the wide leaves of a palm tree offer some shade from the sweltering sun. The tempestuous storms that rage on the mainland do not reach this tranquil spot, affording you endless relaxation. This island need not be an object of fantasy, for it exists in Panama’s San Blas archipelago, tucked quietly away in the Caribbean Sea.
Alberto Gutiérrez is an unusual man. He is, perhaps, unique. In a fast-paced world, Alberto has led a slow life, away from the thrills and spills of modern society. In the hills of northern Nicaragua, he plies his trade, pottering around among the rocks and trees. Alberto is not a farmer. It is not the arable land in that hilly countryside that consumes him, but the rocky cliffs. Alberto is no ordinary man; he is the stone man.
Affectionately named ‘the land of lakes and volcanoes’, Nicaragua attracts visitors with its natural splendour, adventure pursuits and tropical heat. A visit will undoubtedly include a spot of trekking, a dip in a lagoon and possibly a saunter through a canyon. Throw in a few volcanoes and smattering of sandy, Pacific beaches and you have the measure of Nicaragua. Tourists have flocked to the country in recent years, particularly down the country’s western corridor, where the major cities and attractions are found.