Green Dreams: Travels in Central America

Green Dreams: Travels in Central AmericaAuthor(s): Stephen Benz

Publisher: Lonely Planet

Paperback: 280 pages

ISBN: 0864425236

ISBN-13: 978-0864425232

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It’s hard to imagine that newspaper editors turned down the submissions Stephen Benz filed from Peru in 1984 in his quest to become a foreign stringer, but their loss is our gain, because those disappointments set Benz on the ecotrail through Central America that resulted in this fair-minded, observant, timely, and beautifully written book. Central America is a complex place, with as many issues and viewpoints as plant, bird, and insect species. Head to the jungle and the scenery is breathtaking, but the politics are hairy. How do tourist dollars impact oppressed Indian groups? Is accepting a stork dinner exhibiting sensitivity to indigenous cultures or exploiting the wildlife? Is it true that the only hike worth taking is the one that’s excruciatingly difficult and preferably life threatening? Benz has a keen eye, a fine wit, an endearing candor, and a laudable willingness to listen to the opinions of all the individuals and factions involved. He reports with a facility that belies the difficulty of the task, covering the views of students and local businesspeople, backpackers and tour guides, holier-than-thou sorts and oblivious vacationers, landowners and Mayan activists. Benz portrays with great style a beautiful land, a profusion of conflicts, and an amusing assortment of adventures in a book that’s as valuable to read as it is entertaining and enjoyable. –Stephanie Gold

Investigating the “green dreams” – those well-intentioned but often misguided visions – that inspire tourism in Central America, Steve Benz travels from the Mosquito Coast to Costa Rica and along the Ruta Maya. His encounters with foreigners, including “New Agers” at Mayan ruins, North American retirees in Costa Rica, and eco-tourists in the rainforest, lead him to question the impact that visitors are having on the region and its people.

Honduras: Adventures in Nature

Honduras: Adventures in NatureAuthor(s): James D. Gollin, Ron Mader

Publisher: John Muir Publications

Paperback: 344 pages

ISBN: 1562613413

ISBN-13: 978-1562613419

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Why visit Honduras? Because it is the most underrated tourist destination in Central America. Honduras has more accessible and beautiful reefs than Belize or the Yucatýn, more extensive rain forests and cloud forests than Costa Rica, Mayan ruins comparable to those of Guatemala, better beaches than Nicaragua, a more peaceful political climate than El Salvador, safer cities than those of Panama, and the greatest undeveloped wilderness area in all of Central America. For environmentally-oriented travelers, especially for those who like to get off the beaten path, Honduras is a dream come true. Honduras: Adventures in Nature provides your best guide to travel in this country. Honduras is not the kind of place to experience in an air-conditioned tour bus, shuttling from monument to museum to mountain vista. To sample the greatness of the country, that which sets it apart from other tropical destinations and from your home town, you’ll have to put on hiking boots, or fins, or water sandals. You can gaze at the birdlife through binoculars or peer at the living rainbow of the coral reefs through a diving mask. You can pole a cart along a banana company railway, paddle a high-tech kayak to uninhabited isles, or climb the rock face of a rain forest waterfall. And, when you’ve had enough, you can contemplate an archaeological site built long before the birth of Christ, watch the sun set through the palms, or listen quietly to the hoots, calls, trills, and buzzing of rain forest life.