My time in Utila was pretty freaking awesome!!
- Met The Secret One (TSO) at a bar fight. More here.
- Swam with Dolphins! More here.
- Shark Dive! More here.
- Trivia nights at UDC
- Night Dives! They were amazing!! I love bioluminescence! One night we came up and it was raining, but the stars were out!! Cool TED Talk here.
- Kristi & Beck’s 100th dive – it was a night dive so maybe they did it naked (per tradition)…maybe not.
- TSO visited for my last weekend in Utila!
- Met some amazing people like Cat, Kristi, Mao and more!
- I am a PADI Divemaster!!
Of course my trip started with a flight that had a 2.5 hours delay as do most of my trips. Eventually, it took off and I actually made my connection in Miami–Miami to San Pedro Sula Honduras, San Pedro Sula to La Cieba, La Cieba to Utila. The small plane housed me, an elderly woman and a younger woman taking care of her, a man named Jimmi from Denmark and the two pilots. We landed on a runway, but there was not much else there. I was told someone would be there to pick me up, so when the only taxi asked me if I needed a ride I said “No thanks, someone is coming to pick me up.” The cab left, the pilots left, the women left…Jimmi from Denmark and I stood next to the plane. He too was going to the Utila Dive Center (UDC) and thought he would be able to catch a ride with me. No one came. Since I am always stranded in weird places without transport, I just sat on my luggage and waited. Jimmi informed me that he felt that if they had not come yet, they were probably not coming. Hmmmm…why would someone say they will pick up a guest and just not do it??? Anyway – Jimmi decided to go to the road and look for a person with a cell phone – he returned with man on a scooter and said the phones were down. The man offered to drive Jimmi to the UDC so he could get the transit van for me – all I had to do was watch our luggage. Easy enough. I sat on the deserted and waited. Eventually he returned with the van. Apparently they just forgot about me….awesome start! Later I got to know Jimmi and he said that he will always remember our flight; and when he has grandkids, he will tell them the story. “What story?” I said. “Being left with no ride?” I now expect to be stranded so it just seemed normal to me. He said it had never happened to him before – nothing like it. AND, apparently he was super scared the entire flight since we were in a small plane. He had beer and pills and cigarettes to calm him down. I like small planes, so I was quite happy during the flight.
Rescue Diver Course
I started my classes right away. Alex from Houston and I completed our Emergency First Responder Class in one day as a prerequisite for our Rescue Diver. We then started the threeday Rescue Diver Course. While we did some classroom work and reading, most of the class consisted of saving fake victims – over and over again. Sarah, our instructor, was super nice, thorough and just pretty much just awesome.
I was really happy to leave the Mango Inn – it is a bit off the main drag and walking there at night was less than exciting. I moved into a one bedroom at the Caribbean Dreams complex where many of the divers from UDC stay. Free internet, a stove, refrigerator and linens included – totally perfect for me. However I do prefer hot showers – of course I also prefer showers that don’t electrocute me. Each time I turned the shower off, I would get shocked – it was very confusing to me. About halfway into my stay, after a night dive I was a bit chilly and mentioned to my friends that I wished I had a hot shower. My friend Jimmi (who used to live in my apartment before moving upstairs) said “You do have hot water.” Oh…so apparently there is a switch on the shower head that turns on the hot water. I went home and looked up – and quickly understood why I was getting shocked – the shower head was some weird electric contraption with wires sticking out in many directions – awesome: water and open wires.
Once I passed the Rescue Diver Course, it was time for me to start the Divemaster class. It usually takes about one month, but due to my schedule I wanted to finish the class in about 2 1/2 weeks. Lots of workshops, reading and skills assessments filled the first week.
- Interesting…Coral Watch
- Funny…When we were training for the Discovery Scuba class, we each did one dive guiding someone (acting as a new diver) around. I was partnered with Michael and I was the “fake student” first AND my ear started hurting…I was supposed to “act” bad – so at first when I told him he thought it was part of his test. I had to tell him 12 times before he finally understood that I was actually having ear problems.
- Tiring…Silly timed swimming tests…400 meter swim with no fins, 800 meter swim with fins with no arms, 15 minutes treading water, and 100 meter diver tow. I was sooooooooooooooooooo sore!!
- Fun…Knot tying underwater was also fun!
- More fun…Equipment Exchange – With a partner we exchanged all of our equipment underwater while using a single source of air.
- Less fun…Skills assessment was less fun. We had to demonstrate 20 skills.
- Even less fun…The 2 written exams.
- A game…Our Search and Recovery dives were lots of fun. Using a compass, I had to use a search pattern to find a small die that Sarah (our instructor) hid. I found it!!!! 🙂
- My first lead…I did my first dive lead during a night dive. I was super nervous because 1. it was my first lead 2. it was in the dark and 3. I have no sense of direction in the light on land. Lucky for me our dive was at Moon Hole, and I found the boat!! AND I found an octopus! Success!!!
- I finished in time 🙂 I am now a PADI Divemaster!!
Often ridiculous things happen to me…here are a few from this trip…
- Fell off the boat: During my Boat Workshop I fell off the boat – no really. I untied the front of the boat, stepped on – and yup, I slipped, smashed my left shin on the side of the boat, fell into the water, and hung onto the rope (that’s a safe idea Amanda)….wow that sucked. My entire body hurt for several days and the beautiful and painful bruise lasted for more than two weeks!!
- Locked my Dive Computer: Somehow I locked my dive computer (good one Amanda), so I was unable to use it for 48 hours. I hate diving without a computer!!!!
- Broken Depth Gauge: During one of my non-computer dives, I found out that my depth gauge on my regulator was broken – of course this was unknown until I was under water. Soooooooooo…no computer and no depth gauge. Not cool. For you non-divers, not knowing how deep you are – is a bad thing.
- Hurt my Wrist: Wow, what a baby! Somehow I strained/sprained/freaking hurt my wrist carrying tanks!! Whatever I did – it hurt so bad I could not even turn the knobs on the sink!!!!
- Boat Broke Down: One day the boat I was on broke down, and we had to be towed back. I laughed – since these things always seem to happen when I am around.
- Hurt my Left Ear: Wow – ear pain sucks!!!
- Stranded: Not only was I stranded at the airport upon my arrival, my ride to the airport never showed up. I double confirmed that my taxi would pick me up at 5:30 AM for my 6:00 AM flight. At 5:45 (only 15 minutes before my flight) I sat outside my apartment less than thrilled. I asked the guy that worked at the complex for a ride. Soon I was riding through the streets in a golf cart avoiding humans, chickens, and dogs. I made the flight.
As a vegetarian it is sometimes difficult to find food when traveling, but Utila had a few things that made me happy…
- Peanut butter milkshakes!!!
- Spinach and ricotta ravioli from La Piccola
- Dolce de leche crepes and mango smoothies from Che Pancho
- Banana cake from the UDC bar
- Vegetarian Baleadas and veggie wraps from Big Momma’s
Some of the Amazing Things I Saw Underwater
- Upside Down Jellyfish
- Green Moray Eel
- Garden Eel
- Spotted Eel
- Trigger fish
- Cleaner Shrimp
- Arrow Crab
- Lion Fish
- Parrot Fish
- Eagle Ray
- Puffer Fish
- Scorpion Fish
- Peacock Flounder