Deadly Boat Ride to Utila, Honduras!
Having not really had any plans after Peru, my whole trip through Central America was more or less planned a day in advance. After returning my scooter, I was passing through Honduras, struck up a conversation with a local and he mentioned he owned a boat that did trips over to Utila Island. I knew that I would have to get back to La Ceiba to head north to Guatemala anyways so we agreed to meet at the same spot the next morning.
Upon arriving at take off point, the guy was nowhere to be seen, and just a few others sitting on their own backpacks. I sat near them, and we started chatting and turns out, we were waiting for the same person. Hearsay led us to believe that something to do with the high winds had delayed his arrival from the other side of the island. Eventually, the captain and boat arrived slowly, and after deliberating if it was safe to take this plywood boat across the roughly 50 km that seperated us on Roatan to Utila.
Main road on Utila Island, Utila, Honduras
The boat trip started out fine. The island providing us some shelter from the wind and waves, but as we started to get farther out, the wind picked up, and so did the swell. Eventually, we were miles away from Roatan and it was a fleeting glimpse in the distance, and then gone. As we looked forward, nothing of Utila was able to be seen. Ok, no worries, I thought, Im sure these guys do this all the time. I then looked to the captain, standing in the middle of the boat at the basic wooden stand with the steering wheel as he was gritting his teeth and battling with the boat. Not a reassuring sight. We took the growing waves on at an angle as to roll up the side, and down the back of them to avoid our little boat taking the brunt head on. Problem with that was the swaying side to side and the water that was allowed over the starboard and port sides. Eventually after about 45 minutes of this, you start to relax and become used to the feeling ... until the boat gives out. The engine sputtered and cut out, and then our little boat was a sitting duck in between the swells, and without movement, this is really where you see and feel the size of the waves and power of mother nature. Thankfully we had put plastic over our bags, as water started to come in over the sides and soak the boat. Finally, the engine coughed back to life and we slowly climbed up the face of the waves, gaining speed. Another 40 or so minutes later, we finally saw a dark line on the horizon. Utila. As we approached the protection from Utila slowed down the wind, waves, and swell. Had a good laugh when the guy at the dock pulling our rope in asked how our trip was and the captain replied "Smooth sailing!" I really needed a beer.
Underwater Vision, Utila Diving Hostel
Everything on Utila Island is diving. Diving, diving, diving. People only talk about diving, they also make jokes about diving, none of which I understood. Even the hostels are dive shops, so I checked into Underwater Vision. A great open courtyard lined with motel style hostel rooms with access to a little dock and the ocean. Checked into my room, which was filled with a couple Danish people, which was a great welcome, because with Danish people everywhere in South America, I had come to get along well with these extremely friendly people.
When in Rome, so I went to the front desk and told them I had done some diving in Australia but I didn't have my ticket of an kind. The primary one is the open water, but it was a Friday and the next one began on Wednesday. I declined as I didn't want to spend almost a week on Utila only then to start my week long open water ticket, but no worries, there was still some fun to be had! When the boat went out with the divers, depending on where they were going, they allowed me to come along and do some snorkeling. Creating quite a hunger swimming around, my new friend Matias and I decided to go get some grub and stumbled across a Utila favourite, Skid Row Sports Bar! Perfect timing as the hockey playoffs were on and we could take in a game while taking down a perfect calzone. Terrific pub food, great atmosphere and some funny traditions which included a weird shot of home made alcohol that tasted like alcoholic dirt.
That night, everyone from the hostel was going to a bar. That's what you do in Utila, you go diving in the day, have some pints at night. I was once the fence when someone mentioned that it was a tree house bar. Intrigued to check it out we strolled down a back street to Treetanic. A small but spread out bar built in the air along the tree line lit up with all funky types of paintings and lighting. Definitely an extremely unique place to have a nightclub, and if you return back in the day you can really get a sense of how cool Treetanic really is.
Treetanic bar in the day, Utila Island, Honduras
Not wanting to waste my days in Utila with a hangover, and the tiredness of a full day setting in, I called it a night and slid off into the night, back to grab a bite to eat, and hop into bed. Getting to sleep quite easy, as Underwater Vision is well equipped with good amenities and comfy beds, I was awoken as it was still pitch black with one of the girls of our room refunding her drinks from the night right onto the floor of our hostel room! So tired, and feeling very little sympathy, I asked her if she was alright, and through her atttempts to gather a breath, she gave me the thumbs up. Matias obviously had woken up to as he asked her something in Danish. Giggling, I laid there for a minute, then looked back down to see her crawling back into the bed having not done any sort of clean up! Not wanting to step on that in the morning, I told her to at least mop it up with a towel or something, and in that drunk stooper where any idea sounds good, she said ok and laid her towel on top of it. As I arose, in the morning, I noticed it was all gone and cleaned up, with no desire to ask who are how.
Not doing any diving in Utila, but having seriously enjoyed my few days here, I bid farewell to Matias, my gym partner and brand new hockey fan, agreeing to meet up somewhere along the path in Belize.