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Just me, my backpack and I Adventures and lessons on the journey of life!

Entering the underwater world of Utila!!!

HONDURAS | Wednesday, 26 June 2013 | Views [897]



After Xela I had a few days of travelling with a stop of in Copan to visit the most famous ruins in Honduras, before making my way to Utila.


Having arrived in Utila I started the Advanced Open Water PADI course and caught the scuba diving bug... keeping me here far longer than intended and meaning I'll miss out on a bunch of other countries. But that's all good because I'm having fun : )




After about a month in the beautiful Quetzaltenango it was really hard to leave for 3 days on buses, but it was marginally helped by the idea of leaving cold pouring rain and heading for beautiful sunny beach weather. The first bus took me to Antigua where I spent about 5 hours in bed before getting up for a 4am shuttle. At this point I had the ‘pleasure’ of joining a couple on the shuttle who were complaining non-stop from before we even got on the bus. Made me glad I was travelling solo, but was horrified to discover the whingers were also from my home town of Sydney. Man they made us Aussie’s look bad! Apart from their constant bickering and wining, the bus was pretty easy and we got in to Copan around 10.30 in the morning, allowing plenty of time to find a hostel then explore the ruins.


When we got out of the bus the heat that assaulted me was crazy after so long in the cold weather, but a welcome change to be able to wear t-shirts and shorts again. I made my way to the ruins alone and explored yet another bunch of big, old mayan ruins. They are pretty incredible especially when you try to imagine what they would have been like at their prime, all painted and decorated elaborately. I’d love to be able to see what they would have been like. There were also a lot of beautiful big red Macaws in the trees around the ruins and lots of colourful trees and flowers. Very pretty place. On a different note, because I was there alone I had the luck of having the various lone male guides trying to follow me around and find out about whether I was travelling alone, how old I was and if I was married. So for the day I had a husband of 4 years who was meeting me the next day in Utila. Still didn’t make them leave me alone but helped marginally. I also explored the tunnels under Copan which weren’t original but are there for excavation purposes and allow you to see some of the remains of buildings that have been built over (some sites had 3 previous buildings underneath the visible one at the top). Was a little eerie and I felt very Indiana Jonesish exploring down there on my own in the dark tunnels.


After the ruins I made my way back to the town and chilled out, read a bit (am ashamed to say I started to read 50 shades of grey but left it behind when I left the hostel because it was getting a bit too weird for my liking) then had a pretty early night. Yet another early bus at 6am took me to San Pedro Sula, then another bus from there to La Ceiba meant a full day on buses and by the time I got there I was tired and hungry. Made the rookie error of eating before a ferry I later learned is known as the vomit comet. Whoops. Luckily I wasn’t too bad but there were LOTS of people vomiting, and one young Russian guy was laughing his head off and taking photos of his brother and wife who were both throwing up in plastic bags. If I was his wife I would have whacked that bag over his face.


On the boat I met a bunch of people who were also heading to Parrots, the dive shop I had been recommended. There were a guy and girl from America, The whingers (NOOOOOOOO) and Corie, a dive instructor who showed us to the shop along with the crazy Russians who turned out to be in the Moscow circus. Pretty quickly we got things sorted and I signed up to do my Advanced Open Water Dive Course. The first night here there was a big dinner with everyone from the dive shop which proved a very interesting bunch of people from all over the world. There was the scottish guy with red dreadlocks who was trying to convince us that life would be better as a professional homeless person, the whingers, various germans, a heap of Americans and people from all sorts of other countries spread across the restaurant. After some very odd conversations, mostly involving the dreadlocked Scotsman, I bailed back to the hostel for my first night in Utila. The room had 2 double bunk beds and 3 fans, but still felt like sleeping in a sauna. So I had a very hot, sweaty night which I have come to learn is the norm for everyone in Utila.


Day 2 in Utila was basically chilling on the beach (which alas is a bit of a fail of a beach, minimal sand right by a road and very shallow water with no waves) and finishing my book (Boomsday - by the dude who wrote thank you for smoking - very good very funny book). Alas unbeknownst to me I was also getting eaten alive by sand flies at the time, but thankfully I didn’t get burnt on top of that. The night was spent doing more reading, but this time to get started on the theory for the  Advanced Open Water course, which I started first thing the next morning.


I quickly learned that Advanced Open Water is a lot more fun than the general Open Water course. Not only is the theory not as dry but the activities are way more fun and I started to really develop the bug for Scuba. I also had a great group doing the course with me, particularly a really lovely Aussie couple (who live a few suburbs away from me) Lizzie and John. There were also a lot of dives with English friends Emily and Danny and Swedish Anna.


After a few days in Utila my old friend Damian from Quetzaltenango joined me as well and ended up in the same dorm as me so a big group of friends started to develop. This ensued with lots of late nights and drinks in the bars intertwined with days in the sun enjoying the beautiful views, swimming and diving and exploring the underwater world.


I’ve decided that for me, scuba diving is kinda like you’re flying through a beautiful garden on a foreign  planet. There are so many amazing plants, coral formations and rock formations, not to mention zillions of different types of fish of all sizes, shapes and colours. Some of them are beautiful, many are really really funny looking, a lot are really dopey, some poo all the time (parrot fish particularly), some are territorial, some are curious, some try to swim up your shorts, some try to nibble on your wetsuit... the list goes on. I’ve now seen a turtle, loads of eagle rays, moray eels, stingrays, lobsters, an octopus, heaps of jellyfish, millions of different types of fish, and some absolutely stunning underwater gardens and reefs.


I also ended up doing a nude dive, that’s right, totally nude. It’s a tradition for divers to go naked on any of the hundreds, and our dive master had her 300th dive so we all went in naked in solidarity! Not something I thought I’d ever do but lots of fun. Tell you what, there’s no room for modesty in a naked scuba dive.


We’ve had lots of parties here, generally involving food, beer and rum, we’ve had many a lunch, heaps of local food ‘baleadas’ in particular, and many many dives.


After finishing my Advanced Open Water course, I decide to stick around and do the Emergency First Response course (basically first aid and CPR) and the Rescue Diver course. Another very fun and challenging experience, that means I am now qualified to assist divers who are having issues in the water. One of the toughest parts is when you go on a ‘dive from hell’ where essentially the instructors and dive masters do every possible thing wrong on a dive to really really challenge you, but all a good experience.


After that I ended up working my way through a heap of fun dives to build up how many I have so that I could start up doing a Dive Master course. You have to have done at least 40 dives  before you can start and I’ve just past that so will now be moving on to that.


The last few days have had a few dampeners, including my iPhone getting stolen and a few issues at home, but overall things are good. I just moved into a house with two great guys, Steve and Rasmus and have room to myself for the first time in ages... I can lounge around in loads of space and have the luxury of borrowing my housemates computer right now.


At the moment the Utila Dive Festival is on too, starting off with a huge party, and with all sorts of different diving events on. I’ll be Lionfish hunting with spears in the morning, did a Sunrise dive (really really early!!!) yesterday and have other stuff later in the week too.  This morning though,  I participated in what will probably be one of the most exciting dives - an attempt to break the official world record for the world’s biggest underwater pyramid! We had 61 people in total, with the previous record being 45, and managed to smash it without anyone falling, a mean feat because I was on the 6th of 8 levels and it was REALLY REALLY wobbly up there! It should make it to a certain book all going well but we’re not allowed to use the name until all is officially approved....


In the meantime I’ve got to head off and study! Sorry for the delay in writing, hope all is well at home, and I’m finally starting to miss the land of Oz!

Ciao for now! xo

Tags: padi, scuba diving, utila, utila dive festival, world record

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