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Published: January 18th 2011
The boat trip over to Utila island was pretty horrible. One of the crew was handing out sick bags to families before we left the port. The boat is a large enough cat cruiser but the open sea was very choppy. It didnt help that both Dario and I were still suffering from the previous night. Many people got very ill on the one hour ride over, lots of people ducking out the back door to the back area of the boat. But we were fine, maybe another half hour and we might not have been. We arrived to a beautiful sunset! The sun sinking slowly behind one end of the island, and reflecting off the ocean.
The town of Utila stretches along one main road and many small ones that shoot off it up onto the hill of the island. Its not a huge island but its still 13km long. All the streets are pretty narrow and the main forms of transport are motorbikes/scooters, quadbikes and golfcarts. There are also a few cars around and the taxis are 3 wheeler tuktuks. We walked everywhere, its cheaper and there was no need to get anywhere quickly on a caribbean island!
That first evening we had to find some accomodation, so we dumped our bags at Captain Morgan´s diving shop, right near the pier and they gave us directions to the majority of cheap hotels. We found one we really wanted to stay in, 150L a night (about $8) with wifi and a kitchen to use but they were full 😞 so instead we stayed somewhere basic for 125L a night. We had dinner at an amazing restaurant called Babulu, it is basically all above the water on stilts and then in the middle of the dining area is a large area cut out of the floor with lights that attract the fish and you can just sit and eat and watch the fish. We were lucky as there was an octopus playing around all night, changing colours and shapes depending on what he was touching. The food wasnt that great though. But we did manage to find a Sarita icecreamery...
Next morning we slept in a bit and had a great breakfast at Bundu Cafe with free wireless which was useful. We managed to find one of the many laundries here and explored the island a bit. We had
found out through other travellers we met elsewhere that there is a minigolf place on the island. We decided to walk there... about 4km´s later we arrived. The owner/creator of this awesome minigolf course is an expat american guy. There are 18 holes, some whackier than others. There is one where you hit it down a big deep hole and the green is at the bottom. The next hole continues underground into a cave that he dug himself out of the rocks! The entry includes a free beer too! There were two pretty awesome holes, one where you use a slingshot to shoot your ball up a tube that connects to another tube and spits your ball out onto a green. Then another where you drop it into a tube and it spits out on a round green that is on a type of balance board, you have to ´surf´ the ball into the hole by jumping on it and manouvering your body weight to move the board and hence the ball! crazy fun!
The walk back wasnt too fun, but we got to see the other-non beach side of the island and where there is an airport and
view of utila when we left
unfortunately we didnt have the cameras charged on the good days of sunshine!
a horse ranch! That afternoon we had had enough walking so headed back to Bundu cafe to use the wifi and have Linner... luch dinner combo. Food was good, frozen lemonade was the best! and we got to top it off by skyping mum and dad and half the rest of my family as they were all on holidays together which was great! We got offered a pamphlet to ladies night at the pirate bar that night but declined, free rum and vodka for 4 hours was not what this girl needed! After dinner we headed for our laundry pickup and of course, since we found a Sarita icecream shop, an icecream! We had an early night as we had organised a 7.30am snorkelling trip (the diving boat leaves then and we were just going to tag along to snorkel).
Next morning we got up early and headed towards the dive shop. Luckily there is an awesome bakery on the way there that opens early. We had a great brekky of bagels,cinnamon buns, fresh out of the oven! literally! they were too hot to eat at first! The dive boat only had 6 divers and us on it. The first stop was pretty rough, the waves were breaking on part of the reef, so we snorkelled in the deeper section, visibility wasnt great either coz of all the silt in the water, but it was fun anyway. The second stop was much clearer and calmer, we saw lots of fish and amazing corals! so beautiful! unfortunately our underwater camera isnt working properly at the moment so we couldnt take any photos. The water is a barmy 27 degrees celsius so that was nice! half the divers werent even wearing wetsuits, the other half only wore springies and we didnt need one at all.
We got back from the boat pretty early at about 10.15 since there werent many divers. We headed back to the room and got ready to head to the beach. We also had a couple of Beleadas, kind of a large tortilla with fillings inc blended frijoles, cheese and eggs... it was very yummy! We walked the 20 mins to the public beach (there is a beach closer, but someone bought all the land there and now charges $3 a person) and on the way asked about various whale shark sightings and kayaking through the island.. there are very cool double kayaks with a glass bottom we were considering hiring. The beach is very pretty, palm trees, white sand, blue water! what else do you need?!?! we didnt stay too long, the sun is very hot in the middle of the day. we walked about half an hour to the Iguana research and breeding station... there are some obsure signs to get there and we got lost once, but eventually arrived at about 10 mins to 2 and found out it opens at 2pm so we were lucky we didnt decide to go in the morning. They breed the critically endangered swamper iguana that is only found within an 8kmsquare area on Utila, nowhere else in the world. They live in the mangroves here. There is a common iguana that lives here too, but only up on the forested areas. At the station we saw the hatchlings from last year that are in big outdoor aviaries, they keep hatchies for a year so they get nice and strong before releasing them. They also have breeding aviaries with 1 male and 4 females in each. They also had a great visitors centre with lots of info about the island. Apparently part of the problem is that people here eat them as a delicacy and the mangroves are being cut down to make way for new developments.
We walked back to our hostel in the blistering heat and went to have an early dinner coz we were starving at a place called the Mango Cafe which has a woodfired pizza oven, unfortunately the oven didnt start working until 6! so we had a walk through town to use up the 2 hours and ate a baleada or 2 and headed back for 5.30 coz the mango cafe plays movies on a big flatscreen. That night they played the movie ´Snatch´which was fun! the pizza unfortunately was a bit of a disappointment when it arrived, half our fault though... I dont like onion, mushroom, olive or capsicum on my pizza and dario doesnt like pepperoni so we shared a large one with just ham and cheese.
Next morning we woke to the horrible sound of rain! we had changed our minds the previous night, deciding to leave the island in the morning... but the ferry wasnt running! the poor weather meant it was too dangerous to make the open sea crossing back to the mainland. So we didnt do much, just walked around town, ate b´fast and lunch at the hostel with supplies we ran back with through the rain from the mini markets, luckily it had a kitchen. For dinner we went to a very reggae place and had bbq´d chicken and chicken kebabs which were excellent though a little pricey. Next morning was the same story! we got stuck on the island again! the other way off the island is to pay $200US for a 3 seater plane flight which were still running or manage to get a seat on the sheduled 20 seater flights but they were all gone until tuesday (it was friday). So another day of doing almost nothing. We just hung out in the hammock and ate food and chatted with fellow inmates of the rain at our hostel. That evening we went for a beer with our new mates at a bar called Treetonic, worth a visit if you´re ever on Utila! the place is amazing! the bar itself is a treehouse and is connected by a bridge to the rest of the property which has been decorated by the owner over the last few years with shells, glass marbles, bottles and many other things to make it a really wild and wacky place to see! We had dinner with a british couple who were both math teacher at a mexican place called El Picante! was really nice food, though also a bit pricey but hey, it was nice. Unfortunately though they had run out of supplies of many drinks since the boats hadnt been running and we all had to drink fanta or equivelant unless we wanted alcohol. We got into the hostel late and packed out bags, the night was clear and there was a possibility of the boat going in the morning so we wanted to be ready.
Next morning... 5.30am... I wake up to go down to the dock to check if the 6.20am ferry is leaving or not (office opens at 5.30). I had to wait until 7am for the ferry master to decide that the boat could actually safely make the trip and I had to run back, wake up Dario (which is hard to do at any time), grab our bags and head back down to the wharf in time to buy a ticket and load up the bags. The ride was much rougher this time, the seas were swelling and sometimes the boat had to change direction sharply as a large wave was about to hit us on the side. A few people got a bit ill, but it was a much smaller number of people onboard compared to last time. I stayed standing the whole time watching the waves, was quite fun really, and Dario was lying down the whole time. The bad thing with the design of the Utila Princess is that the windows are set too high and so if you´re sitting down you cannot see anything but the sky!
We arrived safely in La Ceiba, still raining a bit and took a cab to the bus terminal and got on the bus to San Pedro Sula that was due to leave at 9.30am. The trip usually takes 3 hours, it took us 5 coz the bus broke down after 30 mins and we had to wait for another bus to pick us up, plus the rain had been so bad for the last 48 hours in La Ceiba and surrounding areas in northern Honduras that the roads were a bit dangerous at times. We arrived at the San Pedro Sula and luckily, (since we arrived around 3) the last connection to Copán (where we wanted to go) had waited for the connection. We were lucky to get seats, this bus crams people on, and everyone in the aisle gets a small plastic stool to sit on. We arrived in Copán... thats the next entry.
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