Roatán, Time to Dive!

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Honduras  ,
Thursday, February 1, 2007

Returning back to the Caribbean coast after our jaunt to southern Honduras and El Salvador, this might seem quite an illogical route because we started out Honduranean trip on this coast. Due to the mountainous geography of Honduras, this zig-zag actually made perfect sense.

We enjoyed the tropical humidity again and didnīt suffer at all on the 3 hour ferry trip from the mainland to Roatán in the Bay Islands. The crew provided a great service delivering and collecting sick bags from the other passengers. Again, Edīs concerns about seasickness turned out to be unjustified.

Culturally, Roatan is quite different to the rest of the Honduras. There are the English and Spanish-speaking Black population (Garifunas) who are descendents of slaves from colonial times. They have their own language, and seem laid-back. Then there are the Latinos who have moved to the island from the mainland. Finally the most recent group, ex-patriates from primarily the USA and Germany who have purchased land, businesses etc. and live year-round on the beautiful island.

During our week there, we never got a sense that the three groups had much to do with each other. Many īgringosī who worked seasonally on the island only socialised at foreign-owned places and seemed surprised that we would eat and drink at a bar/restaurant owned and patronised solely by the Garifunas, but we didnīt see the problem. They had the freshest fish and the cheapest beer on the island, not to mention continuous cheesy country music like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton to keep us entertained.

Anway, our real reason for vising Roatán (apart from the fact we like a tropical Caribbean island as much as the next person) was that Ed wanted to learn to dive and the island is one of the most budget-friendly places in the world to do this . I was less certain, having one or two impediments to becoming a successful diver:

a) am scared of water in general
b) never swim in water higher than my neck
c) never put my head under water (except in the shower)
d) not a strong swimmer

Well, the dive instructor was a true pro and the fixed smile never left his tanned face as he explained that the above points shouldnīt prove to be an issue.

In fact, I went snorkelling for the first time that afternoon and was completely in awe of swimming in warm, crystal clear waters with a huge variety of multi-coloured tropical fish. I was still terrified of diving, but was determined to have a go.

Next morning our dive lessons started with Ryan, a carefree Canadian with a positive approach to nervous students. I found myself fighting a panic attack just breathing through the regulator in water 5 foot deep and really didnīt enjoy the exercises of removing my mask under water and getting salt water in my eyes and nose at various times while learning essential skills.

Day 2 - more skills practice, theory and our first open-water dive. Ed loved it (he is a water baby). I was less impressed...

Day 3 - second open water dive. AAAAAAAHHHHHHH, now I get it!! It was a surreal experience. I had been wearing a really shoddy mask the day before and the visibility had been quite poor, couldnīt see what the big deal was frankly.

And, so it continued...dive/study until we were proud owners of a PADI Open Water Diving certificate and had dived with a stunning variety of tropical fish, eels, and turtles.

We celebrated with a relaxing swim at bath-water temperature, and an enormous steak at an Argentinian restaurant with two German friends.
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