Central America in a Flash

Day 14 – Pacific Ocean of Ecuador – Find Insignia on CruiseMapper

Has anyone else ever thought “Central America” sounded like a trick question on a geography quiz? Along the lines of, “Is Central America (a) a continent, (b) a subcontinent or (c) part of another continent and, if (c), part of which continent?” 

We know how tricky this question is because half of Partout (not naming names!) got this one wrong over breakfast today, and that was without considering Central America is even trickier than the trick question.

(Below: Guatemalan children with a new friend introduced by Louis)

Tricky Central America

The tricky thing we learned on our dash down Central America’s west coast this week is that five of region’s countries were once a single, unified nation known as the Federal Republic of Central America (abbreviated RFC in Spanish), also known as the United States (or Provinces) of Central America or … Central America, for short. Who knew?!

For most of the Spanish occupation, these sister countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua – were “Guatemala of New Spain.” After their bloodless seizure of independence from Spain in 1821, they briefly attached to the Empire of Mexico before opting out to become the RFC in July 1823. The Mexican state of Chiapas joined them.

The marriage ended in 1841 when the RFC dissolved because its conservative and liberal factions couldn’t get along (sound familiar?). Nevertheless, Central Americans – or at least one of our bus drivers – still sing the RFC national anthem, and symbols of the federation abound. In a courtyard of the ornate Grand Palace in the nation’s capital stand five towering araucaria trees, each representing one of the RFC’s five founding nations. 

(Below: also looming at the National Palace in San Salvador are signs of of the latest wave of foreign opportunists in Central America)

Some Partout Housekeeping

Insignia made three stops on its run down the coast of the former United States of Central America: Puerto Chiapas, Mexico; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Acajulta, El Salvador. These stops offer some insight into what to expect from us as we chug our way around the globe.

In many locations, our mid-sized ship docks in the middle of a city’s action. That was the case in Acapulco, Mexico (below). In destinations like the ones we visited in Central America, we dock in a port some distance from the sights, and we bus or shuttle there on guided outings. These rides can be quite long. They provide lots of opportunities to learn about a country’s history from the chatty guides and to see the landscape at 60 mph but little for Louis to photograph.

Whenever this is the case, Partout will fill in the gaps with reflections on shipboard life, descriptions of the ship’s inner workings, mouth-watering reports on what is reputed to be the best food at sea, random photographs we just happen to like and other fun, including answers to your questions.

Correct answer to the question posed above: (c) part of the North American continent.

Coming Soon!

You Asked, We Answer!

2 thoughts on “Central America in a Flash

  1. In Costa Rica our driver said that gringo is not a spanish word rather it dates from when the American army wearing green uniforms occupied the port of Veracruz? at the start of the Mexican American war. The local people protested against the occupation by shouting green go! This was later shortened to the more spanish sounding gringo.

    We didn’t hear anyone in Costa Rica calling us gringos but that may be because many of the hotels we stayed at and many of the green reserves were created and owned by Americans.


  2. What is that? (Picture of a squash/melon with stuff in it, on “Central America in a Flash”)

    A: The melon-looking thing is a cacao pod cracked open to reveal the plant’s seeds. These can be eaten (yum), dried and roasted to make chocolate products or plant to grow new cacao trees.


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