Fire and Water

Trip Start Feb 25, 2010
Trip End Jan 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Highridge Apartments
What I did
Instructor Development Course
Master Scuba Diver Trainer Course
Rotational Scuba Instructor

Flag of Honduras  , Bay Islands,
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It has been about 6 months since my last blog post. The months have quite literally swept by, leaving Mexico, the mountains of El Potrero Chico, and the beaches of Playa Del Carmen a blur in my memory. I will always treasure the three months that I lived in Mexico. The food, the culture, the art, and most of all, the infinite kindess of each individual made me feel like I was not just a guest in their country, but a brother. The unfair reputation that the international media has given to this beautiful country and peaceful, fun-loving inhabitants is unfair and unfounded. The people in Mexico taught me a lot, from how to cook, to refining the art of firedancing, and finally teaching me a language. The Cenotes in the Yucatan offered diving like I had never dreamed, miles and miles of underwater caves just metres below the surface. Sinkholes that go to 100 metres with strange chemical reactions causing the formation of what looks like clouds hovering at 25 metres, separating the shallow from the deep. The Firedancers of Playa Del Carmen were the best I have ever seen in all of my travels, through them I was able to take my art to the next level. Eventually I was ready to move on and after spending a week relaxing on the sleepy island of Caye Caulker, Belize, I finally arrived at my destination in Utila.

The moment I arrived on Utila, I knew this was an island where I could settle down for a bit. I needed to live somewhere for a while. The backpacker's lifestyle, fluttering between one place to another, existing and disappearing within a blink of an eye, was no longer satisfying. I needed to be a part of a community, I needed to build a more stable life. The first thing I did, like I have always done in places I knew I would spend some time, was to find a job. Within 24 hours, I created my firedancing business. I printed fliers all over town and started up my website I got my first gig that night and within two weeks, my business was flourishing. I was giving firedancing classes every few days, the biggest bar in town hired me for their 2 biggest nights a week. I charge the bar a certain amount to cover costs and to give me some extra pocket cash as well as free drinks, but in tips alone I normally make anywhere between $25-$100 for a 10 minute fireshow. Over here, $25 is a lot of money and I can survive an entire week on that alone. I began to grow a small celebrity status on the island. I could not go anywhere without people saying in thick accents, "Hey look! It's the Fireman!" This was my job at night, during the day I was focused on my Scuba Instructor training, it took me one month to completely finish the course, along with the internship. I was subsequently hired as a Rotational Instructor at Captain Morgain's Dive Centre. This means that I could teach Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Divemaster certifications, as well as Specialty certifications such as Nitrox, Wreck, Deep, Gas Blending, O2 provider, and many more.

 A Scuba Instructor by day and a Firedancer by night, I had found a perfect niche for myself on this island. The life of a Scuba Instructor isn't easy. I commonly hear my colleagues say, "I came here to retire but I have never worked harder in my life." I find that saying very accurately describes the job of a Diving Instructor. There is no such thing as a day off, a holiday, or a weekend. The only holiday anyone gets is a visa run every 3 months. Sick days involve being out of the water but constantly in the office selling courses. Every morning I am up at 6:00am and I am usually done with the day at around 5:00-7:00 pm every single day. But, could I really call it work? I am being paid to go Scuba Diving, and teaching students is something that I would happily do for free. When I received my first paycheck as an Instructor, it came to me as a surprise. The joy of the job alone is enough to keep me doing it. Bringing students into the water for the very first time, watching the learning curve as they go from being extremely nervous and scared to excellent and skilled divers is so rewarding. The underwater smiles on their faces when they surpass their fear and the passion and addiction for scuba diving takes over is an incredible feeling. For me, I have more fun diving with students than without.

The Diving here is incredible, but only on the North Side of the island. Unlike other diving destinations I have visited, there are not thick clouds of fish in every direction, however the geographical features are incredible. The North Side of Utila is lined with steep cliffs that span down for hundreds of metres. When I dive underneath them and look up, it looks exactly like El Potrero Chico. Everytime I dive, I get a burning desire to climb the mountains that I am diving under. I see perfect climbing routes everywhere, minus the masses of coral. Utila lacks rockclimbing because all of its mountains are underwater.
Unfortunately, every good thing must come to an end. My time in Utila was incredible, and I am sure I will miss this place.  I have lived here now for over 3 months and I am ready for a change of pace. I came to Utila to settle down; to make a home for myself after so many months of being on the road. I rented an apartment with a living room and a kitchen to help to simulate the experience of a home. Clearly, I had already forgotten what I had previously learned. A true home, or for one to "feel at home" has nothing to do with location, materials, or how many rooms are in a house. It has nothing to do with having a place to call my own. A house is not necessarily a home. What truly makes a home is the community. It is the group of friends and family that are always there. Again in Utila, I found the same problem that I dealt with in previous paradises. People come to this island to stay for a week, maybe two and then leave. Their existence in my perception of reality makes an impression just in time to leave a void. I have an incredible life here, and I have learned to live and even relish travelers lonliness. Yet I yearn for connection beyond what I can find here. I grow weary of making a new circle of friends every week. My travels are nowhere near complete by any means, but they can certainly be put on hold for a few months. On Friday I fly to Miami Beach, to stay with my Grandfather for a few months. Like a fish out of water, trying to evolve to walk on land. I need to take a break and I see nothing wrong with returning to the pond to catch my breath. After I plan on returning to Mexico for the Winter, The Middle East for Spring, Europe for summer and back to Asia for Fall.

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Mary Pike on

Absolutely Amazing. Living your dream for sure

Terry on

Wow Quest! The stories of your adventures and your photos are amazing. These are memories that you will have for a lifetime, and I am happy that I can share them with you through your blogs. Thrilled you will be staying in Miami for a few months - it will be a wonderful time for you and for Jack. Sending you lots of love and best wishes always.

Ronda on

Quest sounds divine and my heart sings with deep joy for you and all these amazing experiences. Would love to talk and connect when you are mainland. Hugs and love to you!

Cheryl F on

Hello Quest; thank you for sharing the experience of ...awakening and diving both literal and metaphorical. The ebb and flow between venturing forth and coming to rest, between the new and the familiar, between strangers and friends...keep riding the surf.


Jill on

Hey Quest, we all can't wait to see you in FLorida!
Your writing is brilliant. Ever think of writing a travel book?
See you soon.
Jill from Bliss!

Journey on

Thank you for being such a great inspiration for me Q. So excited for your experience in Miami!!



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