Comayagua, Honduras’s original capital city, is on the northwestern edge of the broad Valle de Comayagua, the largest flat region in central-western Honduras. The 390-square-kilometer valley lies roughly equidistant between the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Comayagua (pop. 60,000) lies at the junction of the Río Chiquito and the Río Humuya.
With help from the Spanish government, the small city has spruced up many of the fine architectural monuments and museums. Comayagua is well worth stopping at for a day, particularly for the colonial buffs, and more adventurous types can visit a nearby cloud forest, waterfalls, and a couple of small pre-Hispanic ruin sites.
After more than three centuries as the country’s political and administrative center, Comayagua has a wealth of colonial monuments. City authorities have in the last decade begun promoting an ambitious project known as Comayagua Colonial, which entails renovating many old buildings, recobbling the streets, and enforcing strict building codes. The parque central and Plaza San Francisco are reaping the benefits of this program. While Comayagua is unlikely to become the next Antigua, Guatemala, the renovation projects are certainly a welcome change.
Comayagua is home to Honduras’s most renowned festivals during Semana Santa, the week leading up to Easter, with sawdust carpets on the streets and processions throughout the week. Hotels usually raise prices and establish minimum stays of 3–4 nights. Another interesting time to visit is in early February, to catch the famous Baile de los Diablitos performance.
Just outside of town, in the middle of the valley, is the Enrique Soto Cano Air Force Base, better known as Palmerola, used by the U.S. military. With the closing of the U.S. bases in Panama Canal Zone, activity at Palmerola has increased substantially. In another boost to the local economy, a ZIP (free trade zone) carries on business just outside of town. The surrounding region survives mainly on agriculture, particularly coffee grown around La Libertad, fruits like peaches and apricots, and many vegetable farms.
Getting to Comayagua
Buses to Tegucigalpa are offered by Transportes Catrachos, five blocks south of the square. The buses run every half hour 5 a.m.–5 p.m. (US$2, 90 minutes). Buses to La Paz can also be caught here (US$0.70, one hour). Transportes Rivera (tel. 504/772-1208), a block farther south on the same street, has buses hourly to San Pedro Sula 5 a.m.–4 p.m. (US$2, three hours). Alternatively, you can take a taxi out to the highway and flag down a bus headed in either direction with minimum hassle.
Empresa San Miguel (tel. 504/772-0611), half a block south of the Rivera terminal, runs buses to Marcala five times a day 6:30 a.m.–2 p.m. (US$2, 2.5 hours, or less to La Paz or San Pedro Tutule for Guajiquíro).
From Comayagua, the highway west to Siguatepeque (32 kilometers) and San Pedro Sula (160 kilometers) and east to Tegucigalpa (85 kilometers) is kept in fairly good condition all year. In either direction, the road ascends steeply into the mountains ringing the Comayagua Valley.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition