Good morning from Nicaragua! Yes, we are now in a whole different country, yet still in Honduras if you are following the blog (which I hope you are since you are reading this…) Our last week in Honduras was probably the best so far. We planned on going to the island of Utila to get scuba certified and then move on. Five days and then moving on. But… Utila has a sort of magic where people come for a few days and stay for a few weeks, or even for a few months. We met so many people on the island who were just like us and came only to get PADI certified (a four day course) but ended up becoming dive masters (a two or three month process). Like them we were bewitched and 5 days stretched to 8 and would have stretched longer, but we wanted to see Nicaragua and we are meeting my friend Chelsea in Costa Rica on the19th of February, so we reluctantly moved on.
Getting to Utila requires a taxi ride out to the terminal (I swear they built it away from the city just to give the taxi drivers work) and then an expensive ($28 per person!) one hour ferry ride, nicknamed the “vomit comet”. Getting off the ferry, tourists are swarmed by dive shop representatives trying to get you to pick their shop. There are at least 15 dive shops on the island and we had heard it was best to get there, ask some questions, and feel out each shop, so that is what we did. We visited three (Alton’s, Parrot’s and Captain Morgan’s) based on the little bit of research I did on dive shops beforehand. All three were warm and friendly, but we decided on Captain Morgan’s because 1) They had hot water (very important to me), 2) They go to the north side of the island a lot, where people say the best diving is, and 3) The hotel felt like a community and had a “hang out” vibe.
We both signed up for a PADI Open Water Course ($288, including the course, 4 free nights in their dorms, and 2 fun dives at the end). The first day on the island we just hung out, ate some baleadas (tortilla, meat, cheese and cabbage, and essentially the national dish of Honduras), made some rum infused smoothies, and then hung out some more. For dinner we wanted something cheap and without rice or beans so we were excited to see a sign for wing night at Trudy’s Hotel. The wings were $.50 a piece and were soooo delicious. I got honey garlic and literally licked the sauce off so I could rub more on. Logan got spicy (of course) and said they were the best wings he had ever had. Hands down. We were so sad when we got full (and that wing night was only once a week).
The next morning we watched some PADI videos to get us ready to get in the water, and by afternoon we were getting our scuba gear set up and trying to breathe underwater for the first time. We had to practice some skills, such as taking the regulator (the thing you breathe out of) out of you mouth to practice retrieving it, clearing the regulator, and filling your mask with water and then blowing it out. I really hated that last one and struggled to clear my mask without panicking over the fact that there was water in my nose. Logan left our first day in the water excited to spend more time underwater, while I left very nervous for the next day where we would be doing more mask skills and getting our air turned off to practice getting to the surface safely. We ate a very late lunch of baleadas (they are about $1.50-$2.50 depending on what you get in them, easily the cheapest food on the island) before we began our hanging out and drinking beer exercises, which are very important for both scuba enthusiasts and island dwellers.
The next morning we watched a few more videos for the course and got back in the water to learn more skills. Our instructor Laurant (a VERY French guy who loved rum, smoking, and scuba) along with his helper Karl (a Swede on break from the Swedish military) got us all ready to go in the choppy bay. It was windy that day and had rained the night before, so the visibility was horrible the current was so strong. I was very scared because I felt so out of control of my surroundings, and the cloudy water made me feel so claustrophobic. I did the mask clearing exercises (and freaked out during each one) but then went to the surface to calm down, and never went back down. Logan and the other girl in our group (a girl from Holland named Lisanna) finished the exercises quickly without me and my panic holding them back, so we were able to grab some lunch and make the afternoon boat for their first open water dive. I was obviously not able to dive, as I had not finished the skills, but I went out on the boat for some fabulous snorkeling (possibly the best ever). Back on dry land we went to our instructors house for dinner and drinks. We didn’t end up eating until almost 10 pm (a European thing?) and by then we had both had quite a few rum punches. Logan had a lot too many and without any food in his belly, he got a little sick. After eating some pasta and meat sauce (light on the pasta for me) we went back to the hotel, as we both had early mornings. Logan was going out on the boat again for his next two dives, and I was meeting with a new instructor and going to a pool to see if I could master the required skills.
Will Heather complete the course??
How did we get “stuck” for three extra days??
What did I do on Super Bowl Sunday??
All these questions, and more, will be answered in Part 2 of “Scuba Enthusiasts and Island Dwellers”!
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