The view from my room.
We left off last time with me leaving Tegus at 5 in the morning, on a bus bound for Le Cebia, the closest city to the Bay Islands, off the coast of norther Honduras. The main reason anyone comes here is to dive, and it has some of the best, and also the cheapest diving in the world. After a six hour bus ride we got to Le Cebia, and I shared a cab with a Brooklyner and a couple from Japan. We waited for a few hours until the ferry came (in a dry port...dry as in they couldn't sell any beer to us at the restaurants while we waited) and we proceded to get on the Utila Princess II, the ferry to the smaller of the two main Bay Islands.
The Locals rushed for space inside the cabin, and the tourists for space on the deck.
I noticed both plastic bags being handed out to everyone as well as big, plastic covers for the inside, keeping out, well, anything. I decided to join the locals. It was a wise move. Within a few seconds of our trip, the first massive wave crashed over the starboard side of the bow, soaking most of the people on the deck, and people came running into the cabin with soaking iPods and digital cameras. As badly as I felt for them, their indignation was offensive and touristy, not counting my Brooklyn friend who shrugged, put some of his stuff with the Japanese couple, and went back out to get pummled by waves for the next hour.
The far more annoying part of the journey than a bit of water (which we were getting between the plastic's zippers) was the awful sea sickness going on around me.
I was feeling fine until everyone started puking, and then I felt sick too, someone who hasen't been sea sick since his childhood. Ohwell, I made it in without needing my 'barf bag' as the cabin boy handing them out said laughing in a thick latin accent, sounding like 'baff bhag'.
I was greeted at the pier by a tout, Eric, from the diving centre I ended up going to, and Eric ended up being my teacher. PADI (Profesional Association of Diving Instructors) certification, that is, open water diving, costs 238 all told, with coral tax and this and that tax, and with it you get: Certification, Lessons, and six open water dives over 4 days. You also get two free fun dives at the end to use as you will. It's a great deal, with some places charging $1000 or more, not on Utila, but in other countries.
Kids in the water.
It's also governed by PADI, not some Central American government, which is great. I get a free dorm room with my fee, which I upgraded for five dollars off a 25$ private A/C room. So, I went under the sea.
I was mostly worried about my ears, which I have always had congestion problems with, but with a bit of practice and slower than normal descents, I ended up being fine so far to depths of 40 feet, which is the deepest we go on the first day, tomorrow I think we go to 60 feet, the deepest that a beginner goes. If my ears will equalize at 40 feet, said Eric, they will equalize at 100 feet, so no worries.
My dive was great, but there is not much to say about it. The life on a coral reef is really something that can only be represented visually, but I did get to see a Moray Eel today.
More interesting to talk about is the island itself, and the people who live on it. Firstly, most people here speak english, not spanish, and have Jamacian Accents. There is about a 70/30 mix of white/black english speakers, all of whom listen to reggae non stop, and whos accents are so thick that i need to ask them to slow down to understand. With only 2000 people resident on the island, it's pretty easy to get your bearings and start to get to know people; and it's also easy to get very comfortable. I have been Kyaking, and diving daily now, and eating thick Tuna steaks, asking them to cook it rare will produce a fish which is about medium well. When I got one (by a chance, i'm sure) that was about medium rare, the waitress said "dem fish iz raw! you want me take it back?" I gladly finished it, my best meal yet, and thanked the cook who was set up on a charcoal bbq in front of the patio, near the road. My 12oz tuna with a baked potato, roasted veg, rice, and salad came to 5 dollars, 7 with a few beers. not bad for the freshest tuna in the world....
So, there is a hurricane around, and it looks like it's going to miss us here, which is a good thing, but the attitude on the island isn't one of major conern; the tourists are too stupid to be scared, and the locals too smart. If it does come this way, we can deal with it then. If not, then well, even better.