Ocotepeque is a small town of approximately 15,000 people. Most teachers agree that this is a nice place to live, particularly for Central America. It is small enough to be safe but large enough to offer most of the services you will need.
It is nestled in the westernmost region of Honduras in a mountainous region, making it a very beautiful and peaceful area to live. You won’t find any lengthy write-up of it in the travel books as it is not a tourist destination like Copan Ruins, but it is nonetheless a picturesque town with people. Volunteers have not felt endangered walking around town at any hour, including the evening. We have had many single men and women volunteers that have felt comfortable living and traveling in the region.
The core of the town is the Parque Central, and the main streets and commercial center radiate out from the park. Streets extending from the center of town are paved and several blocks away may drop to dirt roads filled with horses, chickens, and other livestock.
This is by and large a rural, agricultural area. Homes range from being large and wealthy to more simple properties such as mud homes in the areas further away from the centre of town. Although most of the homes in the area have running water and electricity, there are frequent outages of both. Water from the tap comes from the river and is not drinkable.
Volunteers can expect to find most but not all of the products and foodstuffs that they are used to in the United States and Canada. Some imported food, beauty, and clothing products may be harder to find and more expensive, and of lower quality. We highly recommend you bring favorite foods and toiletries with you, not to mention specialized medicines. Local fruit, vegetables, and staples like cornmeal, rice, beans, tortillas, and baleadas are much easier and cheaper to come by. The large fruit and vegetable market, supermarket, main hotels and restaurants, post office, and government buildings are located near the Park, and every street has tiendas and pulperias that sell basic items like soap, snack foods, cereals, eggs, and milk.
Getting around in Central America is slow, but volunteers can visit lakes, the beach on the north coast, and other sites on long weekends and breaks.
Climate The weather is warm year round, although in the winter, the temperature may drop into chillier evenings. We recommend bringing a blanket, light jacket or sweatshirt. You will need an umbrella for the rainy season, which lasts from June into November. The bulk of the year is quite comfortable, temperature-wise. It can be very hot and humid around June and July.
Because Honduras is much closer to the equator than anywhere in the United States, Canada, or Europe, the day length does not vary much throughout the year. There are no long summer days or short winter days, and the sun usually rises and sets between five and six o’clock each day.
Travel Opportunities in Central America
_Past volunteers have taken advantage of weekend travel in
the area surrounding Ocotepeque. It is relatively easy to navigate
travel, even with limited Spanish. We recommend you do your own
research but to get you started, this is a summary of nearby travel
destinations you may find helpful.
Roatan, Honduras The beautiful Caribbean island of Roatan in the Bay Islands of Honduras, offers some of the world's best SCUBA diving and snorkeling. You will need an extended break to visit Roatan. To get there, you will take a bus from main street Ocotepeque to San Pedro Sula. Spend the night in San Pedro Sula, and take a bus in the morning to La Ceiba where you will board the ferry for approximately 50 Limpera ($2.50) round trip. The island is surrounded by the world's second largest coral reef, hugging most of the shore. This provides calm, clear beaches for swimming and snorkeling, and many varieties of sea life. Almost every hotel, vacation rental, resort, and other lodging is close enough to walk to beaches.
Esquipulas, Guatamala Esquipulas is just across the border in Guatamala, about a 30-40 minute taxi drive. You can visit Esquipulas as a day trip. The cost for a taxi to the border is about 130 Limperas ($6) and the cost can be shared among all the people who share the taxi. There is a beautiful church in the Parque Central along with a popular outdoor market. There are a variety of places to eat and stores to explore.
Gracias, Honduras The development of a tourist economy is based on the town's historic and natural attractions including colonial churches, Celaque Mountain and hot springs (aguas termales). It is recommended you visit Gracias for the hot springs and can be reached within a few hours by bus.
La Palma and Sushitoto, El Salvador These two towns are by far, favorites among the volunteers. To visit these towns, you will need a weekend. The cost of the taxi to the border of El Salvador is about 14 Limperas per person (70 cents) for the 15 minute drive to El Poy, El Salvador. Once here, La Palma is about 1 ½ hours further by bus and will cost about $1.80 U.S. La Palma is a cute, artsy town with many art, craft and jewelery stores to explore and good restaurants.
The experience of Sushitoto is highly recommended. Sushitoto is a very clean, laid back, and artsy town about 3 hours further from La Palma by bus and the cost is about $1.50 U.S. Sushitoto has some beautiful architecture, many wonderful cafe's and restaurants and a heavy artist influence. There is also a lake area that you can explore and take some time to relax.
Copan de Ruinas, Honduras Definitely a must see while you are in Honduras. To visit Copan, you will need a weekend since the bus drive is approximately 5 ½ hours to reach the town and the cost is about 100 Limperas ($5). Copan is a well kept town and generally quiet with many options for shopping and eating. It is the gateway town to visit the Copan Ruins and will be more touristy than other palces. You can easily walk the entire town without a need for a taxi and you can easily walk to the Copan ruins in about 15 minutes. The cost is about 285 Limperas ($15) for entry into the ruins. You can also visit Macaw Mountain.