Published: February 9th 2011February 8th 2011
My trip from Houston to Utila was an adventure as usual. I arrived at the Houston airport at 3am waiting for my 440am flight to San Salvador. I had the "privilege" of sitting next to young man covered in tattoos (including the infamous teardrop on his cheek bone) who was overly anxious about flying and who disclosed he just got out of high security imprisonment on Jan 7th after 4 years in and this was his first flight in 7 years. Lucky me. He was adamant about talking and sharing his story while trying to get as much as he could out of me. As most of you know I've worked with immates/ ex-inmates and its never really bothered me but there was something about his anxious-energy that I wasn't all that comfortable with so I "slept" as much as I could to avoid any situations.
In addition to this I had my visa card stop working. I called Visa and apparently my card had been compromised (again) and they froze it. So I'm doing with what I have and hoping it's enough until next week.
By 10am I was at the Roatan, Honduras airport. A tiny airport that
is easy to move through customs and get a taxi. Flat rates are pretty standards, there isnt alot of bargaining. $20US from the airport to the West End where you will find a beautiful white sanded beach, all your dive shops and Captain Vernon's catamaran which I had to wait until 1pm before it took me to Utila.
Captain Vernon is an ex-Alaska, ex-Mexican dive instructor who decided to drive to Honduras 10 years ago and has been running his tours from Roatan to Utila for about four years. He's direct, laid back, and knows what he's doing. For $55US and 4 hours he brings you to Utila or Roatan once a day. It's a trek and a bit expensive for this part of the world but way better than taking two ferries and cab over.
By 430pm I was on Utila waiting for Jason when this nice older gentleman approached me to chat. Turns out that he was a local dentist who had spent over 12 years doing dental missionary work all over the place. He'd was sponsored do to some of his education in the US and did well for himself. After a long day I
appreciated his authenticity and energy.
Jason was there to pick me up as per schedule and we started back to the apartment
Utila is a small island about 13kms long, with very friendly people from all over the world looking to further their diving skills. The transport on the island consists of go karts, golf carts, and what in Thailand are called tuk tuks, small golf cart like vehicles. I insist on walking as long as there are some stretches of shade as at 8am this morning it was 26C.
The dive shop Jason has been working with is the Utila Dive Center and was voted best training center in the world in 2010 and that is where I begun the theories part of my course Monday evening.
Monday morning we went for a snorkel in the bay which was exciting.
Today I hit the water for the first time after 5 hours of theory training. I was as anxious as I was excited. Probably more anxious than excited since I have had a major fear of open water for a very long time and thats why I decided to come to Honduras. Jason has
been here since September and has become a dive instructor and is qualified to teach seven specialties. Jason, a friend and fellow coach, is creating adventure travels interlaced with coaching and I'm here to work through my fear, get comfortable with the fish, and take my first vacation in 5 years without any work. (Obviously it's not working so good but I'm definitely diminished the amount by 90% which feel good.)
I have to say that this whole experience has been as rewarding as it has been challenging. I feel extremely grateful for Jason and Fernando (the other instructor) for walking me through the challenges. Breathing underwater, for those who have yet to experience it, was the most exhilarating and powering experience. We still have another 2 days of training but I can understand why people get addicted to the sport. My least favourite part is removing the mask and the regulator under water. I know it's important to learn what it feels like but definitely not pleasant.
Tomorrow we complete the theory and confined water training and Thursday afternoon take on the open water. Yesterday the neighbour was swimming with a whale shark and last week Jason
with a turtle.
Enjoy the pictures I'll blog again in a day or so.
There are more photos below