Puerto Barrios, The Atlantic Port
Puerto Barrios is Guatemala’s chief shipping port along the Caribbean coastline. As such, it is a major commercial and trade hub, and has a bit more of a “company” feel to it than many of the other areas. As a matter of fact, it’s not unusual to see a great many Chiquita banana company name tags on people passing you along the streets. It’s not a huge city, but it is able to boast a population of about 40,000 people, a central market, affordable hotels and a chance to book tours to such popular destinations as Guatemala’s Livingston or Rio Dulce or for an opportunity to venture to nearby Belize or Honduras.
Puerto Barrios: A Brief History
Puerto Barrios was first founded in the 1880’s but in the short period of its existence has managed to grow into a thriving commercial center. The town was named after a Guatemalan politician named Justo Rufino Barrios and has a bit of a Caribbean flavor missing in other destinations (but similar to what you’ll find in Livingston.) Some of the leading exports that depart from Puerto Barrios are coffee beans and bananas – two things that the Guatemalans know a lot about.
The Spirit of Puerto Barrios
If you had to sum up both the climate and soul of Puerto Barrios, two words immediately come to mind – hot and sultry! Both the days and nights can get a little “hot”. And, be warned, Puerto Barrios has a bit of a seedy appeal. There is a thriving industry in the lusty and fleshy here, and can be a bit unnerving at night to the more prim and proper tourists. But in the daytime, when temperatures are rising, you can help pass the time away by visiting the main market in the center of town. This market is built around an abandoned railway at the corner of 9 Calle and 6 Avienda and is populated by licuado stands and comedores.
Plenty of Diversity
With its main port and many marinas, Puerto Barrios offers a cultural diversity that spans Central America. Here you’ll find plenty of Latino, Garifuna, indigenous Indians, Hondurans, Nicaraguans and El Salvadorians. It is also the home to some wonderful Colonial style buildings, though they might appear to be a bit dilapidated with time. One of the premier colonial buildings is that of an old Colonial style hotel, complete with sprawling verandas of the classic early twentieth century style. Others have been converted to bed and breakfasts or Caribbean style restaurants.
A Perfect Transit Point
While you may have a bit of a challenge keeping yourself busy while you’re in Puerto Barrios, it’s an absolutely perfect transit point to help you discover other more secluded destinations for both Guatemala and the rest of Central America. The city offers several tours and trips to locations like Livingston, Rio Dulce (“Sweet River”) and neighboring Belize or Honduras. You’ll easily be able to find lounging and lodging to tide you over before your departure.