ROATAN, Honduras So much suits me here: the palms like tiny asterisks on the horizon, the lassitude of a Latin-Caribbean culture, how planes wait until all the passengers arrive. I couldn't design a better banana republic.
That's not gringa exaggeration. Honduras was a banana republic once.
Sam Zemurray, a Bessarabian immigrant, built a fruit empire here in the early 1900s. When the government didn't play ball, he plotted a coup.
Federal agents tried to block the mercenaries' departure from the U.S. The key conspirators caroused in a New Orleans bordello, until officers abandoned the stakeout.
"Well, compadre, this is the first time I've ever heard of anybody going from a whorehouse to the White House. Let's be on our way!" one announced.
Off they sailed, with Sam the Banana Man, and conquered the country.
Zemurray, by most accounts, was a fairly upright guy. Later, as head of United Fruit, he fought for local management and diversified crops.
And he remains famous for this quote, so oddly resonant today in America: "In Honduras, a mule is worth more than a congressman."