My grand plan when I left Copan Ruinas was to catch the 5am bus to San Pedro Sula and then change for another bus to La Ceiba and finally, from there catch the ferry to Utila (the closest and cheapest of the Bay Islands of Honduras). I thought I would be especially smart by staying up to catch the bus rather than risking sleeping in by going to bed. I did end up where I planned to be, though in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have had so many beers the night before in my effort to stay awake.
On the evening of the 13th, I went out with some of the girls in my Spanish school and we ordered a round of the big beers sold in Copan (equivalent to about 3 regular bottles). A couple of those went down pretty smoothly and then the girl from Kansas had to go home as she was having some difficulties walking. I was still okay, but there were still 4 hours before my bus was to leave so I stayed until closing and then went back to my place to pack. I did end up sleeping for about an hour, but luckily my alarm was set as a backup, so I still caught the bus, though at the time I assumed I probably wasn’t the most sober one on board. Turns out I was wrong- I slept the whole way to San Pedro Sula and when we arrived, the Australian couple behind me asked whether I had been grossed out when the girl in the seat across from them started vomiting. I slept through the whole thing, and though I was a bit hung over by the time I got to Utila, I figured that was a small price to pay for missing that little episode of the journey.
Once in Utila, I signed up with Captain Morgan’s Dive Center for my PADI Advanced Open Water Course. I have been a certified diver since I was in Australia, but the advanced course was a good way of building my confidence. The first night I slept on the main island but after that I got to transfer to Captain Morgan’s secondary accommodation on one of the small cays to the southwest. While Utila was interesting, I found that the maze of motorbikes and golf carts made strolling a slightly stressful operation. Jewel Cay (pronounced ‘key’), on the other hand, is a little piece of mellow paradise for $6 a night. As usual, my tiny ear canals started acting up after my first dive, but I managed to finish the course before my ears got totally blocked. The same thing happened when I was in Australia and in Hawaii, so I was anticipating it. I think I am not anatomically designed for long term diving. Alas! My instructor kept suggesting that I sign up for a divemaster course but I am pretty sure my inner ear would just implode at some point if I dove every day.
The five dives I had to do to qualify as an advanced diver were a deep dive to 30m (100ft), a dive to a shipwreck, a navigation dive, a night dive and a dive to fine-tune my buoyancy. I have to say that my favorite was definitely the wreck dive- I felt like I was in a national geographic documentary as we swam around and partially through the old boat. There was an eerie, ghost-like quality to the old beast- it sat at about 30m depth with small fish swimming through it’s rusted exoskeleton. The ship had been intentionally sunk as a training wreck, so it is mostly intact except for the removal of sharp edges. A very surreal experience, to be sure.
I still have two fun dives to do once my ears clear up, so I have been hanging around Jewel Cay waiting on that and for my minor cold to disappear as well. I can confirm that there are worse places to be stuck with a stuffy nose. I will update again when I move on. Cheers, amigos.