Street in Gracias, Lempira
A Shopping Centre
Statue of Lenca Warrior, Lempira
View of the town from the Fort
The town of Gracias in Lempira department in western Honduras has the misfortune of sharing its name with another town (Gracias), and a province, (Gracias á Dios) on the Mosquito coast. Nestled in the mountains, at the foot of the highest peak in Honduras, Mt. Celaque, it is also as remote and isolated as its namesakes.
Once the administrative capital of a region from Southern Mexico to Nicaragua in the mid 1500's, Gracias' prosperity lasted only for a brief historical moment. After a few years, the center was transferred to Antigua in neighboring Guatemala.
One of the oldest, colonial cities in Honduras lay dormant and inaccessible until various foreign aid organizations started arriving in the last few decades. With the arrival of aid organizations which have a compelling reason for being there, Gracias, Lempira started to come alive again.
Gracias, Lempira can count its blessing in its relative isolation, historically and geographically. The town on the whole looks and feels as authentic as it might have been. Even the new buildings (mainly hotels) that have recently sprung, blend in with the landscape of the town.
While the remoteness and isolation has withheld the material quality in life for a great number of its residents, the town has maintained something valuable in its circumstances. Its saving grace is in its simplicity - an under appreciated quality of life.
I took the pictures last month during a 2-week stay in Gracias, Lempira. Looking at them now, I am reminded of the time I spent living and working in a gracious town that deserves the name.