The Life Aquatic

Trip Start Aug 23, 2006
Trip End Apr 15, 2007

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Flag of Honduras  ,
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

So the last time you heard from us, I mentioned that we were going to pick up the pace a bit. Well we did, for a while. Then we landed on an island in the Caribbean and got a bit stuck...but I'm getting ahead of myself...

We left San Pedro looking to head for Honduras by as quickly as possible. Guatemala had been nice, but after three weeks it was starting to feel a bit same-same everywhere we went. It seems odd given the number of armed guards, police and army personnel that you see everywhere, but really, as third world countries go, it's a bit dull. Ruggedly beautiful mountain scenery, amazing Mayan ruins in the jungle, live volcanoes and exotic wildlife were all well worth seeing, but once experienced it's time to move on. So we did, ending up overnighting in Antigua again before heading to Honduras in the morning by minivan shuttle with about 10 other backpackers.

Crossing the border into Honduras, you immediately know that you're in a new country. The differences are subtle, but definite. From house colors to the bars on the windows to the skin tone of the locals, it's obvious you've crossed a line of some sort. We arrived in Copan, another quaint colonial town with cobblestone streets, grabbed a room and headed for the local ruins. The best preserved of the Mayan temple cities, Copan kinda rocked. Few other travelers, temples you can climb, beautifully preserved hieroglyphics, flocks of macaws and herds of strange poodle sized rodents made for an interesting mix of visuals for one morning. Far smaller in scale than Tikal, it's nearly as impressive. If anything, it's a bit more welcoming just because it's so much easier to see it all.

The next morning it was back on a bus, heading for the coast. We made it as far as the
seaside town of La Ceiba before having to take a room and wait for the ferry to the Bay
Islands the next morning. This was not a great way to end a long day on a bus, as La Ceiba has no saving graces that we could find. Gritty and run down, with no good restaurants nearby and storefronts that are shuttered by 6 PM, it was just a pit stop that we're hoping not to repeat on our way out.

Another wakeup and another ferry and we finally made it to Utila, one of the Bay Islands and a really beautiful and welcoming destination. We spent the morning surveying all the dive schools, looking for the best mix of accommodations, location and whatever extras we could score. We ended up at Underwater Vision, where I spent 4 days working towards my Open Water Diver Certification. One of the coolest things I've ever done, I wish I'd done it years ago. Breathing underwater at 60 feet, gliding over coral reefs and swimming with the fish are amazing experiences. This is definitely not the last time I scuba. Karen opted not to take the course as she´s tried it before and just doesn´t care for it.

There were so many Discovery Channel moments, but the top three without a doubt were seeing Hawksbill turtles on three dives, swimming side by side with a spotted eagle ray, and snorkeling with a whale shark. We got lucky between my third and fourth dives, coming across one near the surface. You've never seen so many people leap off a perfectly good boat in several hundred feet of water so quickly. Thirty five feet long, slow moving and graceful, we got to swim with it for about half a minute before it sank back into the depths. It was an amazing experience, without a doubt one of the highlights of the trip. I did a total of 7 dives, and each was different from the others. The reefs here are the best I've ever seen, even better than Belize as a diving/snorkeling destination. Bring deet though, the sand flies are voracious little bastards once the sun goes down.

After a week on the island, we're getting a little stir crazy and will be moving on tomorrow.

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