Honduras, Garífuna soul, & Andy Palacio

I have been following this 2010 World Cup like millions of other futbol fans from around the globe and I was so proud that my dad’s country of Honduras made it this year! It got me thinking about the cultural treasures unique to Honduras. My father was born on the Caribbean coast in La Ceiba, Honduras. Growing up he spoke Garífuna as well as Spanish with the other children, but later he forgot the Garífuna. In 2001, the language, dance and music of the Garífuna people were proclaimed by the United Nation’s UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The Garífuna people are of mixed African and Native American (Arawak and Carib) ancestry and native to the Caribbean Coast in Central America – specifically Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. They have a very distinct and unique cultural heritage, language, and music and have been able to preserve that culture for many centuries.

Garífuna music has its traditional forms as well as more modern fusion forms including “Garífuna soul.” Andy Palacio of Belize, who released a gorgeous album in 2007, Watina, and tragically died shortly thereafter, was one of the most well-known preservers and teachers of the Garífuna culture. Here is Palacio’s “Watina,” the title track from the album:

And a video describing the making of the album with the Garífuna collective:

Aurelio Martinez, another popular Garífuna artist:

Traditional songs of Garífuna women:

Punta is one of the Garifuna styles of music and dance derived from folkloric traditional origins to become much more popularized throughout Central America today especially Honduras:

Folkloric Punta dancing:

Honduras – it was told to me that the name of the country came from the Spanish word “hondura” meaning depths or profundity. When Christopher Columbus left Honduras, he was rumored to have said, ‘Gracias a Dios, escapamos esas profundas honduras’ or ‘Thank God we escaped these depths.’ I thought it was in reference to the treacherous mountain ranges, but I also read it was in reference to the deep waters off the Northern coast.  Honduras is a country that holds for me many mysteries, pieces of puzzles not yet solved that may remain in the realm of the unknown. I’ll be rooting for them on Friday as they play Switzerland – what an awesome thing it will be if they advance to the finals!! QUE VIVA LOS CATRACHOS!!!!!!!!!

Resources & Links:
Andy Palacio
National Geographic page on Garífuna Music
Wikipedia page on Garífuna music
Garífuna people
Garifuna in Belize
La poesía, nueva canción, y trovadores

Honduran 2010 World Cup Team


  1. Very good! I’ve been interested in Garifuna music and culture ever since I heard about them on the NPR program Afropop Worldwide. Some of the music reminds me of Cheikh Lo of Senegal. Do you know of him?


  2. […] founder of Partners in Health. To learn more about the strength and dignity of the Honduran people, please see my post from June of 2010, which I wrote during the World Cup. It features some beautiful music and dancing. Here is a gorgeous song by Andy Palacio of Belize, a […]


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