I found Captain Vern, who takes punters direct from Utila to Roatan aboard a lovely catamaran. The trip’s more expensive than taking two ferries to and from La Ceiba, but I thought it worth it for the time and mucking around I would save myself. We picked up 10 hungover-looking Danish girls who slept dotted about the boat for the entire trip. I chatted with the only other passenger – an young island boy who was very easy on the eye.
It was raining when I alighted so I jumped in a cab, only to see Skye happily sloshing around barefoot in the mud a little ways up the road. She jumped in, and came back with me to our hostel. I argued with the cabbie over the fare as is fast becoming my personal custom in any new place (he tried to charge me double coz Skye had gotten in the car. The ride was less than 3 minutes long. Fucker.) We checked me in to our simple wooden cabin which was ensconced in a lush green rainforest at the West Bay end of the island.
I showed Skye my sandlfy bites and she oohed and ahhed sympathetically: it was good to be in the company of an old mate. Skye and I met about 10 years ago when she was doing her undergraduate, and I was working at the University of Wollongong. We had been introduced through our incorrigible & infectious friend, Mikey and his soul-soothing lady, Jody. The pair of them had gathered around them the most gorgeous group of girls & boys – many of whom I am pleased to still call friends to this day.
Skye & I had only really spent time together at a collection of crazy college house parties… and while we had very likely shared a little history & possibly even bared our souls to one another – both of us admitted to not really remembering a lot from those days.
What I do know is this: Skye always had a big bright sunny smile on her dial; she was always doing something interesting – whether that be sailing through the Whitsundays or doing a marine science post grad; and she seemed to be very easy-going. I was looking forward to spending some quality time with her and hearing her stories. We had similar intentions for travel for the next month or so. It would be nice to have some company on the road.
We went & got some groceries and booze, and spent the rest of the day just mooching about, getting to know each other and catching up. I organised some diving for the next couple of days with an outfit called Ocean Connection. We played cards with our neighbours that night: a couple of amiable lads from Montana who were getting their Dive Certificates.
Over the next two days, I went out diving with Stefan the Swede in the mornings. I’ve been very lucky to get DMs all to myself. I much prefer this, than to diving in a large group because you’re always going to be at the mercy of the people who chew through their air (it’s standard practice that a dive ends when any one person gets low on air). Stefan had great eyes (for spotting stuff as opposed to the colour of) and was extraordinarily excitable under water. He kept yelling thru his reg and waving his arms about wildly. He was a bit odd, but I liked him.
There were schools and schools of fish. Loads of pretty plants. And on both days, we got to see graceful turtles gently gliding through the gardens.
On one dive, we did a swim-through and were greeted by thousands and thousands of silverfish, swarming. I couldn’t see Stefan’s fins at one point, there were so many of them. Just incredible.
We saw a small pod of dolphins during a surface interval. I wanted to jump in the water with them, but they were moving at a cracking pace. I wouldn’t have been able to keep up.
We also saw loads of little nudibranchs. Nudibranchs are a type of sea slug without shells. There’s some 3,000 different species that have been identified. They’re typically tiny (starting from as little as ½ cm) and characteristically colourful with pretty patterns – a lot of them have ‘feathers’ and ‘horns’. I’ve since discovered they’re also hermaphrodites. I’d encourage you to Google images of them. Soooo pretty!
And then there were the Christmas Tree Worms. These shy little things sport spiraling plumes that resemble a firey red fir. They’re about 2.5cm in size and when you click your fingers, they rapidly withdraw into themselves, so you can’t see them anymore. There’s a lot of animals (and some plants) that do this. You have to have a keen eye for detail to see them in action. They always startle me, in the happiest of ways.
Alternatively, there are those who are very curious and will come up to you for a closer inspection, and will keep you company for a while.
Some sea creatures are sublime show-offs, mincing about like drag queens at Mardi Gras.
Mostly though, everyone’s a bit nonplussed by your presence.
I love being underwater (as you’ve probably guessed by now). I believe neither a five year old child nor an acid-loving hippy would have the vision to imagine this world. A world of weird creatures who live in a luscious landscape which waves at you as you weightlessly wander on by. I am a child in this watery wonderland: curious, enchanted, surprised, delighted, astonished, happy.
I sometimes wonder what it would be like to drown and I imagine it would be such a tranquil way to go, once you accepted your fate.
Skye and I spent the afternoons eating, drinking, chatting, reading, and sleeping; and the evenings doing the same. We both were ready to leave after just a couple of days. Roatan is a nice enough island but food & lodgings are quite expensive in comparison to the rest of Honduras. Only the diving is dirt cheap. And for someone like Skye, who can’t dive due to a heart problem – there’s not a lot to do. The beach is not a lie-about type of beach, for all its nasty sandflies. There’s virtually no nightlife to speak of, at least not in wet season.
We decided to catch an 8 minute (!) flight to Le Ceiba, primarily because there wasn’t a lot of price difference between that and catching a 2.5 hour ferry. Chuck in a collective bus ride, a taxi, and the checking in business & we didn’t save ourselves any time in the end. But it was good for the novelty factor. It was only mid-flight, I realised I shouldn’t really be flying after doing a dive the previous day. Hopefully I won’t get decompression sickness!
We caught the bus to San Pedro Sula together and then went our separate ways. Skye to Copan to see the ruins. And I came straight here. I’m currently staying at the D&D Brewery, right by Honduras’ largest lake, Lago de Yojoa. It’s super pretty here – lots of green stuff, bucketloads of birds, and big beautiful butterflies. There’s a lot to do here: a few hiking trails, some caves, a 43m waterfall, a coffee plantation, some small ruins, and so I’m told: good bird-watching (although I’m not sure I’m old enough for that just yet).
I’m just taking it easy today… a bit of a reading / research day… the rainforesty gardens of the brewery are just perfect for this kind of day, and there’s a pool if it gets hot later. I’m starting to think ahead to Colombia. Which is a while away, but I’m keen to organise where i’m going to live for the month of Dec while I do some volunteering and take some more Spanish lessons.
Skye is meeting me here tonight or tomorrow, so I’ll wait for her before we set off on some adventures.