A charming colonial mining town, Yuscarán is a jumble of twisting cobblestone streets and tile-roofed plaster buildings perched on the edge of a mountain at an elevation of 850 meters. The town centers around an inviting square filled with trees and flowers. The climate is semitropical and the surrounding area is pleasingly lush. Yuscarán makes a great place to spend a night or two, enjoying the relaxed colonial ambience or taking a hike in the surrounding mountains.
Gold was discovered above Yuscarán in the late 17th or early 18th century, and the town was officially founded in 1744. After hitting an early peak toward the end of the 18th century, the mines went into decline until the last decades of the 19th century, when there was a brief revival.
The charming cobblestone streets are thanks to forced labor from the penitentiary, a century-old custom that ended in 1998 when Hurricane Mitch washed the penitentiary building away and it was rebuilt elsewhere. (The municipality now takes responsibility for maintaining the stone streets.)
Yuscarán is home to various events throughout the year, notably the Mango Festival held in May or June. This is a major mango-producing area, and the entire population descends upon town to enjoy music, dancing, and drinking. The other big local party is the town feria, in honor of the Immaculate Conception of María. Held in early December, the feria is notable for (in addition to attending special masses) people getting drunk and lighting off bombas, and a bizarre and hysterical type of polo contest using donkeys instead of horses, suggested by a Peace Corps volunteer a few years back.
Carlos Rodríguez (tel. 504/9790-5710, culturayuscaran [at] yahoo [dot] com) and Carolina de Lezama (tel. 504/793-7160) can guide visitors around town, the mines, to the petroglyphs, and on the trails. Carlos charges US$5 for a tour around town, US$10 for the petroglyphs, and US$15 on the trails, transportation not included. Gustavo Pavón (tel. 504/9851-0961, guenpaga [at] yahoo [dot] com) is another naturalist guide certified in tourism and able to lead and make arrangements for large groups (and charges accordingly).
Although only about 2,000 people live in Yuscarán, the town is the capital of the El Paraíso department.
Getting to Yuscarán
Usually eight buses a day drive the 68 kilometers between Yuscarán and the Mercado Jacaleapa bus station in Tegucigalpa, the first leaving at 5:30 a.m. and the last at 4 p.m., charging US$1.70. Two buses a day head to Danlí, at 6:15 a.m. and 7:40 a.m., also charging US$1.70. It’s also possible to get a pickup truck ride up the 17-kilometer paved spur road to the Danlí–Tegucigalpa highway at El Empalme and flag down a passing bus to either Danlí or Tegucigalpa.
There is a direct bus to Danlí daily at 6:15 a.m. (US$1.70) and another bus that comes from Oropoí, passing through Yuscará at 7:40 a.m. on its way to Danlí.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition