Honduras Part 1 (Utila – Life as a Island Bum) – May 2009

– We had to take a hour ferry from La Ceiba to reach the island of Utila, which is one of the three major Bay Islands. I know I am lucky as I don`t get seasick. We had a very, very, very rough ride with huge swells and waves crashing down on our ferry (and this was a large boat with about 200 people on it, so not a little dingy). Unfortunately, Mel got the sickest on the boat. It ended up being a good thing that I always hold onto plastic bags , as I had five plastic bags on me as she needed them all. Alex was trying so hard to focus on the horizon so he didn`t get sick, but I could tell he wasn`t feeling great. Caitlin also looked ill, and I think Freddie was close to losing it too. I felt fine, and pulled out my book to read for the hour. They all hated that I was fine and able to concentrate on a book.

– The main reason I came to Honduras and specifically the Bay Islands was it is supposed to be some of the best scuba diving in the world, plus the cheapest. I had every intention of starting my advanced scuba course here right away…but I became an island bum instead. I decided I needed a day or two to figure out a plan for the next week and also how I was going to get back to the USA. I was still worried about the Swine Flu and traveling through Mexico to get to Cuba, so I wanted some time to read, get online and figure out flights and destinations as I`m running well over my budget and need to get home and find a job soon. So Mel, Alex and Caitlin all started their open water dive course and Freddie and I sat on the dock at our dive center/hostel.

– Laying on the dock became my more important job for a week. People kept asking me if I went diving that day or what I did, and I would always answer that I had to sit on the dock or it could fly or float away. So for a week, I was either on the top level of the dock reading on or on the bottom level in a hammock (in the shade) reading. I think it was about six days of this tough job and my tan did improve!

– The big event of the day was getting a beer for sundown cocktails as we had to watch the sunset each day. We really saw some of the most breath taking sunsets that I have seen on this trip. Amazing colors in the sky. Then our next big decision was where we would eat. Utila is a very small island, and most of the restaurants only open a couple days a week, so you have to figure out what you wanted to eat, if it was open that day and almost have a strategic plan to decide where we would eat and drink each night. This was also a tough job I soon mastered. It gave me a sense or organization which I was missing.

One girl that doesn`t play well in the sandbox…
– Our first night out in Utila was met by an odd ending. After a fun night at Treetonic bar, we closed the place down at midnight and I was ready for bed. I came home and met the other girl in our room. Mel, Freddie and I were in a 8 person dorm room, so you have to learn how to share. This new roommate, Becca, clearly doesn`t know how to share, get along with others or some other common niceties. It was super hot that night and there were two fans in the room. She had both fans down by her bed pointing directly at her bed. I said the others in the room wanted to have one fan at each end of the room so we all can get some “fanage” and create a nice cross breeze in the room. She got all huffy and said “NO”, and then “I don`t want to sweat all night!”. I tried nicely to explain that there are now four people in the room and we have to share the fans (as I unplugged the movable one and took it to the other end of the room). She wasn`t too happy as the one near her didn`t move anymore. Being selfish as she is, she got out of bed, jammed a book into the fan, so it was forced to point directly at her. I made a comment that there was someone sleeping on the bed next to her and if she takes the fan directly at her bed, no one else can benefit from it. She said she didn`t care as she didn`t want to sweat. It was not a fun welcome to a new place. I knew I was going to switch rooms in the morning regardless as I didn`t need this crap.

– To add onto the story, when Mel and Freddie came home a few hours later (and they were so quiet I didn`t wake up), they got another dose of this girl as she was huffy at them as they didn`t know you had to jam a piece of paper in the door jam to keep it closed. Who would know that???

– The next morning, I inquired about new rooms, told Mel and Freddie what happened to me and they shared their experience and we all moved across the hall. Much better as we had our own room for almost the whole week and we had a private porch which was so great as we could all relax, drink and enjoy our time on the porch. So in the end, we won.

– What became funny, is this girl Becca walks around like she owns the place, yet has no friends and is really rude to many people. She is here for a month or do doing her dive master course, and I make it a point to be the bigger person and smile, but I want nothing to do with her. As I was waiting for the shower and was next, she came up and tried to push her way in front saying she was next. Freddie was just walking out of the shower and stood up to her and told her that I was next and have been waiting for a while too. It was a little bit of a showdown and I would have let it go, but Freddie wanted to fight this battle and in the end, I got the shower next, but not before little poopy pants snarled at me to be fast as she was waiting too. So I decided to take my time and shave my legs and make her wait.

– On Thursday afternoon, there was a big water volleyball tournament. I was so excited as I haven`t played volleyball in a long, long time. Now I have played in the sand with two people or more, have placed grass doubles and of course indoors. I haven`t played in the sea with fish, algae, sand, kelp and water up to your thigh or so. So we formed a team of Norway, England and America and the boys named the team “Megan`s Mean Machine” and we were out to win, as the prize was two bottles of wine! Water volleyball was much harder as you can`t run or move easily and you just have to hope to get to the ball or make some nice diving saves. My years of volleyball did help for diving for balls and serving. Many people watching were surprised and impressed with my overhand serves as I spot served and started to pick on the weakest player. I wanted to help my team where I could and a good serve was almost always a point (as we played rally serve). In the end, we won the tournament in the playoffs and got to enjoy the title of champions and our two bottles of wine!

– We were next looking forward to Saturday as there was a booze cruise. We took one of the dive boats out, loaded with booze and the captain just cruised up and down the coastline of the island with dance music and lots of drinking. After the second lap, Christine who ran the snack shack and was in charge of the booze cruise, came around with a 2 liter bottle of Flor de Cana Rum (our favorite from Nicaragua) and started doing long pours directly into our mouths. Whole lot of rum with those pours! Such a perfect Saturday afternoon and led to the next event of more circle of death and then out for the night.

– At this point, I have been on the island a week, and still haven`t started my dive course. I figured I would once Mel, Freddie, Alex and Caitlin left as I was planning to stay another week as it was so much fun and relaxing on this island.

– The next morning, as I was reading in the hammock, a local fisherman pulled up trying to sell his catch. The fisherman are only allowed to fish in the deep water so they don`t take from the reef. This fisherman had caught two huge fish, one black grouper that the Dive Center Manager was going to buy. I couldn`t believe how huge the eye was…but learned the deeper the fish swim the larger the eyes tend to be. The fisherman said he pulled this up from 950 feet (as he pulled it up by hand and had the line to prove the depth). So for the next hour, we watched the fisherman skin and fillet the fish. It was about 20 pounds in whole and yielded about 12 pounds of meat. What was crazy is the manager paid about $22 for the whole fish and easily could have sold that to a restaurant for much more or had many meals…

– As I have been out traveling, I have meet so many Norwegians and Dutch and at this dive center, there were about eight Norwegians. Most of these Norwegians I had meet two weeks early in Leon and then reunited at Alton`s Dive Center in Honduras. I learned that May 16th is Norway day (or their Independence day). So we knew we would have to celebrate with the group. We learned the typical food for this celebration is “hot dogs and ice cream”. We really didn`t believe it, but the Norwegians girls went out and bought a huge box of chocolate ice cream and it took about 30 people to finish this. Such a fun afternoon treat.

– Sadly, Freddie and Mel had to leave to meet a friend from home that was flying in. It was a sad time as I had been traveling with them for three weeks and we really were having a great time. We realized the three of us have shared rooms for three weeks, so it was a sad separation…but we may meet up again in Belize in June. I wasn`t all alone as Caitlin and Alex, who I also have been traveling with for three weeks were staying day longer, so we had a little more time for fun.

– That night, I got new roommates. I normally would be excited for new roommates, but I was sad to lose Mel and Freddie. The good news is when I met the new roommates the next day, they turned out to be great. Adam and Lindsay were my roommates for two days and are from upstate New York, so we instantly started talking. Ends up that Adam was starting his Advanced course same day I did and we became dive buddies. So I was happy they were fun and cool as I was going to be spending a lot of time together.

– At this point, I am the island resident cruise director. I am the one people ask where to eat, what`s open, what is the best Internet/laundry/baleadas/ect. So Tuesday was the first night out since everyone else left. Adam, Lindsay and I decided to go out to dinner, and I led Adam and Lindsay to the best Mexican place in town and was really quite good. After that, I wanted to show them Treetonic bar. This bar is out of control as far as decorations. You climb up into a tree to get to the bar, yes a tree house bar. On top of that, the entire place is decked out in mosaics. I heard it took the owners something like seven or ten years to decorate this place. The whole bar, grounds and tree top is covered in fun stuff and its amazing to just walk around and take it in. Definitely a fun place to go.

-So Wednesday night, I suggest to Adam and Lindsay that we go to RJ`s for dinner as it was the best BBQ in town and only open Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. You get a huge plate of BBQ fish or something with all the sides for $5. Great deal and always so much amazing fish. I can`t wait for my last dinner at RJ`s tonight as I have eaten there every night they have been open.

– I think that sums up my island bum days. I am actually starting my dive course and that will be in the next installment…

-Alton`s Dive Center, www.altonsdiveshop.com, – for all dive courses, fun dives and accommodations right on the water. You can literally roll out of bed and into the sea.

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