U-til-a, U-til-a, U-til-a!

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Aug 13, 2011

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Flag of Honduras  , Bay Islands,
Saturday, August 6, 2011

We spent the morning exploring more of Palmetto Bay Plantation, admiring the amazing flora, and snapping some pictures of the lizards, butterflies and hummingbirds before checking out and heading to West End where we would catch our catamaran to the small Bay Island of Utila.
West End gave us our first glimpse of the Roatan that most visitors see because the majority of the tourist action occurs on the west coast between it and West Bay.  West End is a charming dive town sitting on gorgeous half moon bay.  We had an hour to spare before the catamaran was scheduled to leave port, so we took some local advise and ate lunch at the Cannibal Cafe, focusing on Mexican Cuisine.  We rarely enjoy Mexican food outside of our native Texas, but this place definitely held it's own.  We then strolled the bevy of souvenir shops, dive shops, and dive bars before boarding the Nina Elizabeth II for our 4 hour trip to Utila.

Captain Vern Fine runs his catamaran from Utila to Roatan and back every day, weather permitting, transporting passengers and small packages between the islands.  We reserved our spots with Vern prior to leaving for Honduras via a small deposit made through Paypal.  Our other option would be to take the faster National Ferries from Roatan to La Ceiba on the mainland and then another from La Ceiba to Utila.  Both scenarios would take about the same amount of time and money ($100 per person round trip), but we thought the catamaran trip would be more fun.  There were 22 other passengers making the trip with us.  Most of them were heading to the annual SunJam Festival on Water Cay; a small stretch of uninhabited sand off of Utila's Southwest coast.  Party goers would have to watertaxi to the 36 hour techno festival and couldn't leave until the following morning.  We had read about SunJam during our trip preparation, and were concerned that Utila's population of 3,000 swelling to some 15,000, would interfere with our desire to experience a natural, relaxing, everyday Utila.  But we decided to continue on.

About 45 minutes out of West End, Capt Vern promptly did a 180 and headed back towards Roatan.  We were informed that Vern was returning to retrieve two additional passengers that were on a late flight arrival to Roatan and had missed the boat.  We initially were a bit perturbed about the delay, counting the increased time on an already long trip, but Capt Vern assured us we would still make our 5 pm arrival to Utila as he kicked up the throttle.  The missing two boarded with several cases of Salva Vida to share with the already fairly buzzed boat in appreciation for the inconvenience that it had caused everyone.  They offered us a brew and come to find out they are from Israel, but were currently living in Austin, Texas.  Small world indeed!  They looked like they might be the SunJam type, but were actually heading to Utila for their Rescue Diver Certification.

We didn't expect such a boisterous ride, but a group of three "Spaniards" (Honduran Mainlanders; not from Spain) kept everyone entertained with some drunken acrobatics or the catamaran's front net and ropes, all the while alternating chants of "U-til-a, U-til-a, U-til-a" and "Sun-Jam, Sun-Jam, Sun Jam".  We decided to keep ourselves low key and safe, and would not be attending SunJam, but would be catching up with our friends and learning what we had in store for us this upcoming week.  The ride was smooth sailing and we were not disappointed with our decision to take Capt Vern's catamaran.  With every passing minute, Utila grows on the horizon.  We are looking forward to seeing our good friends, Kori and Chad!
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