Posted by: elgringoperdido | February 3, 2010

Rain & Rum on Utila, Honduras

Ok, another post… I have been very lazy.

Utila is one of the cheapest places on earth to do diving and since the sea and being under water in general (umm.. that sounded a bit weird) always has been a great interest I decided to go there in order to do my PADI Open Water Diving certificate. Someone I wanted to meet was there as well so I decided to go even though weather reports predicted 10 days of rain coming.

Somebody told me once that after about 2 days weather reports are only correct in 30% of the cases, and predictions more than like 5 days forward is about as secure as foretelling weather by looking at reindeers intestines (Example from real life! Heikki Vesa, a weird character, every year tries to predict the Swedish summer weather in the national newspaper Aftonbladet by doing this. He fails every time)

Hence, I wasn’t really put off by the what the weather reports said. I also figured I wouldn’t really be affected, since I was going to spend most of my time there under water… I’ll put it like this:  I was wrong. Very wrong.

Utila is a cute little island. As opposed to most of the Caribbean, to my surprise the population was not predominantly black. The locals are white, slightly British-looking and are, apparently, ancestors of pirates that sat their foot on the island about 300 years ago. Official language is English and in general it feels very different to Honduras in general.The locals also speak Creole, only when talking to each others though. It sounds like pirates Ttalking, I even saw this one guy who looked exactly like the cartoon pirate guy Popeye, complete with a pipe and everything.

Not that it has that Caribbean feel that, for example, Belize has, though. It’s just… different. The absence of beaches may be a contributing factor, I guess. The only thing you can really do on Utila is dive, and party. It is quite small. So dive, I did.

Had a few days of chilling before starting, though. Nothing really extravagant happened, we went out one night to an all-you-can-eat-and-drink BBQ party, which was quite fun. Elle told me she would drink me under the table, I guess you can get a slight idea how that went, and who was under the table a few hours later… one simply does not out-drink a Swede (unless you’re Finnish or Baltic).

Found a coconut, and made a perfect crack in it to drink from it. Felt like Robinson Crusoe for sure.

I shopped around for a bit in order to find a dive school that suited me. There are like 15 on the island, and the prices vary quite a lot, too. In general it was cheap, but not quite as cheap as I had hoped. I took the cheapest one I could find, and it cost about 250$ so like 1700 kr. I’m not sure how much it costs back home, but probably more than double it to get a fair idea. Apparently, if you  come during low season, you can get it as low as 200$, which is a joke considering to how much you learn, how much you get to do and how fun it is.

The course started by us having to sign alot of papers saying that the dive school is absolutely not responsible for any kind of injury etc, signed this in a slightly shaky way since it had just struck my mind that my travel insurance does not cover diving accidents. Turns out it wasn’t much of an issue, really. In diving, security is rigorous; I have never done any education for an activity involving so many security procedures. If you follow all instructions – and don’t panic, ever – it is probably one of the safests sports around.

After like half a day of theoretical lessons, we finally got out to sea to train some basic skills. The sensation of suddenly being able to breathe under water is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. Will definately dive again in the future even though it is a really expensive hobby. Our teacher Pamela was very professional and we were also accompanied by two so-called Divemasters  – I’m not entirely sure what to call them but sorta like instructor assistants or something. We were four in the group – it was me, a really cool Swedish guy (first Swedish guy I meet on this trip, actually), this American dude who is one of the most hilarious persons I’ve met on this trip, and a girl from New Zealand. So, basically three instructors for four students – very good.

The two mentioned last had some problems with equalizing (basically the same thing as when you are flying, blowing out your nose while holding it to equalize air pressure) so they couldn’t go down to the 5-metre down sand patch where we were going to do the training. When the American guy finally managed to get down, he almost instantly panicked and inflated his life vest while on the bottom which makes you get to the surface very quickly and this can be very dangerous. He also repeated this at least one more time at a much deeper place which freaked out the instructors like hell, but it was fun to watch. I’m not blaming him – diving is actually a bit scary, especially when you go deep down. The NZ girl had some issues as well, don’t know exactly what it was but I think it had to do with fear as well.

After this skills-dive, we got to make our first real dive at this really cool coral reef spot. We saw alot of cool, aquarium-style fishes with amazing colors and vibrant patterns. This course is very intense so at this first dive we actually went down to 12 or 16 metres which I felt was perhaps a bit quick. When we had been down for a bit, I was breathing from my regulator but all of a sudden felt like coughing. Got a bit freaked out and thought I had gotten an asthma attack or something, but I managed to stay calm and after a while everything felt normal again.

A glimpse of sunshine

Scuba unit ON!

After this second dive, we went back to shore. I was so cold, definately the most cold I’ve felt since the last time I spent winter in Scandinavia, in 2007. Took the whole night to warm me up again. Thing is, when you’re diving you’re under water for so long that almost regardless of the water temperature, you will experience some freezing when you get back up. That the wind was blowing at hurricane strength (or not not really… but strong enough) added to the heavy rain didn’t really make it better.

The next day the rain was too heavy so the diving boat couldn’t even leave the shore, but the day after we went right back at it. Theory for a few hours and then out diving again. We went to this really cool spot called Black Coral Wall, don’t really know how to describe it except for that it is, well… a black wall of coral. Sort of like a mountain side where you are swimming on the side of it. I met a few of the diabolical creatures that I encountered in Belize – moray eels – and they were of course as aggressive and evil as always. The next dive included some emergency training etc, and after this we were all certified as Open Water scuba divers! We celebrated with beers etc.

It kept on raining cats and dogs but I managed to have quite a good time anyway. Met quite alot of cool people, and all of a sudden there were tons of Swedes around everywhere. In general I had the idea I don’t like to meet people from my country when I’m travelling, but recently I’ve come to senses on that. What’s nice about travelling in Central America is that as opposed to what it seems like in Thailand and related destinations, you will never find that half or even a fourth of the people in your hostel is from Sweden. Although, it is actually really nice when you actually do. I always feel that a few inches of my personality goes lost when I am talking in my second t0ngue, English. When I’m with nationals, I suddenly feel that everything I’m trying to stay gets across all of a sudden, even very fine nuances. You also share the same cultural heritage, watched the same tv-shows, etc, which prepares for interesting conversations.

Sunset over Utila, Bay Islands

We were going to this water tower to watch the sunset but we were met by this sign

I had stayed on the island for about 11 days and that was really enough for me. I sometimes get this island fever thingy, where small islands feel smaller and smaller the longer I stay on them. Thus, I fled (once again). Travelling on the early 05.30 boat, I eventually managed to get all the way to the Salvadorian border far down south in one day. It was about 12 hours of travel, but worth it. Honduras is nice but something I will leave for another trip – it’s interesting but the attractions are, as I may have mentioned earlier, not that different from Guatemala, and the country itself feels fairly bland in some ways. Might come back one day, though. On the bus I met a really cool guy from Honduras who had lived in the States for like 11 years and I showed him some Swedish hiphop and all that. Came to this quite dodgy border town on my own quite late at night and had my first night of watching TV since I left home.

On it was some sort of Honduran game show – it was some sort of bizarre dating program, there were like 10 girls, and 3 guys, and then the guys had to choose which one they wanted to kiss after the girls tried to convince them to choose them after doing stuff like talking about their dream partner as well as doing a striptease show. Then the guys had to chose who they did NOT want to kiss, until there were only 1 girl left for every guy. Then everyone kissed the girl they had chosen for themselves and the show was over. Sometimes Latin American culture is very very strange.

A perfect breakfast, Honduran border to El Salvador. Litchie fruits, Cantaloupe-melon, fresh mango, a banana, an apple, a newspaper with the latest, grisly murder stories from Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, good views, and... first and foremost, THE SUN!

The next day I crossed the border without any hassle. One nice thing about El Salvador is that they are using American dollars as their national currency, which makes it much easier to keep track on your budget etc. Not like I did follow my budget, still, but well… in theory it is easier!

Will write one big post about my adventures, ups and downs in El Salvador. Right now, I am writing from an internet cafe in Leon, Nicaragua. Just got here yesterday, gonna do some party etcetera. From now on, will try to write blog posts about once every week, since these last two posts have been abit hard to write since many details have passed my memory a long time ago.

Also I guess it is more fun for you guys to read stuff that is happening right now and not a month ago.




  1. Nice med dykcert! Vill jag också ha. Sjukt jobbigt att vara dykinstruktör och så håller folk på och får panik så dom riskerar livet på sig själva, lär ju hända rätt ofta det antar jag 🙂

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