A Travellerspoint blog

Honduras

Utila, Vingt mille lieues sous les mers...

Utila, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea...


View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

AS I mentioned before my main aim by going to Honduras was to dive! Indeed all along the Caribbean coasts of Mexico and Belize, there is some amazing reef which I couldn't wait to explore in other ways than with a snorkel, this time not by going twenty thousand leagues under the sea (I wish...) but only at a maximum depth of 30 meters.

For a bit of geography, Utila is one of the Bay Islands, off the coast of Honduras, with the other ones being Roatan (bigger, better reef but also more expensive) and Guanaja (smaller but a bit far to reach). Utila is also home to more than 20 dive schools and a lot of tourists are going there to dive. Actually if you do not dive, there is little point to go to Utila, Roatan is a better option though more expensive. This was actually one of the point which I didn't like too much about the island, that there are definitely too many "gringos" and that you lose the local feeling that you can have in other places in Central America.



Utila__6_.jpg

After making my way to Utila, going through hectic towns like San Pedro Sula or La Ceiba in Honduras, I had to choose a diving school in order to pass the PADI Advanced Open Water certification. 15 years ago, when I was in high school in France (my god it's already that far away....) I had passed the french level 1 diving certification, although it was only in a swimming pool so I was hoping that they would accept this as a valid certification and that they would allow me to try straight away the Advanced Open Water without having to do first the Open Water one which is more for beginners.

Diving spots around the island

Diving spots around the island

So lying a little bit about the number of dives I had done in the sea (actually they never asked to see my French license), I registered in the Utila Dive Center, not the cheapest place to dive in Utila but one of the most serious with lots of instructors and students instructors (dive masters). The whole course was about 300$ for the certification (7 dives) + 30$ for a refreshment course (which I really needed anyway). And there we were, after practising again the basics, I was taken for my first dive to a ship wreck, down to 30 meters (100 feet)!

Actually this was a bit scary because it was my first dive ever in sea, and we were going to the maximum depth you can reach when diving for "fun" (once down at 30 meters, you cannot go up when you want if there is a problem, you first have to do a safety stop at 5 meters for 3 minutes, to eliminate the excess of nitrogen in your blood. Taking a deep breath, I then jumped into the water, only to find out that my mask did not fit and that it was impossible to clear the water out of it. Of course the others had more experience and were already going down so I was starting to think "ok, this doesn't start that well"... Fortunately the instructor realised what the problem was and going up to the surface (we were only a few meters down at that point), we exchanged our mask and I made another attempt to go down. Second issue though, I had not taken enough weights on my belt to allow for a smooth descent (I found out later that I needed 4.5 kilos of weight to compensate for the wetsuit and gear which always make you float) and I was getting stuck at a few meters below the surface, incapable of going down by myself. Once again the instructor helped me (nice guy from New Zealand btw) by pulling me down to the bottom and a few minutes later I could reach the bottom of the sea where the others were waiting, 30 meters down, near the base of the wreck. Phew!!

My camera not being water-proof, I could not take any footage which would have been really nice, but instead I have found this video of the same wreck on Youtube. This is actually exactly how I saw it, very impressive...

The rest of the dive was totally fine and we could do a few tests to see what are the consequences of the pressure when you are at this depth. For example the colours start to look different (well I am colourblind anyway so not a lot of change for me...), or we even took some eggs with us, broke them and we were playing with the yolk (the yellow part) like a ball with no gravity!

One of the other dives you need to complete as part of this course is a night dive, when you jump into the water armed with a light torch because it is completely pitch black! The wildlife at night is also very different and this was an amazing experience.

And after 7 dives in total (5 are required to be certified), I was officially an Advanced Open Water diver, which means that I can now dive in any dive spot around the world! I had definitely a great time and I am now looking forward to dive more in South America or Asia later on, if my bank account allows it...

large_Utila__1_.jpg
Captain Cookie, the coolest captain...

Captain Cookie, the coolest captain...


Everybody is quite tired after diving

Everybody is quite tired after diving


large_Utila__4_.jpg
My diving equipment

My diving equipment

Posted by manolo84 14:59 Archived in Honduras Tagged islands diving Comments (1)

Copán Ruinas


View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

After spending then a week in the wonderful and quiet environment of the lake Attitlán, I was happy and relaxed but was really looking forward to come back to civilisation. I had seen most of the places and things I wanted to see in Guatemala and time had now come to carry on down south, to Honduras.

During my travels in Mexico and in Belize, I had had several opportunities to go scuba diving but the high prices for the certifications had discouraged me slightly. Besides everyone was saying that Honduras and the Bay Islands are one of the best places in the world to dive (thanks to the coral reef) and probably one of the cheapest as well. So it is with this intention that I was leaving lake Atitlán and the very nice people I had met there, to head off straight to the Caribbean coast of Honduras, to resume my scuba diving practice that I had stopped 14 years ago.

Unfortunately even though it looks quite close on the map, I had to go back and stay in Antigua for a few nights (and recover from a food poisoning I had experienced when leaving Atitlán) then make a stop in Copán Ruinas in Honduras near the border, before eventually reaching Utila, one of the Bay Islands in Honduras.

But whilst the bus journeys are most of the time long and boring, they are also a fantastic opportunity to meet people. In Antigua, I could meet again a couple of friends I had met in Mexico a month and a half earlier (by the way Maël and Suna, we didn't even take a picture together!), which is always fun and nice, and in the bus journey to Copán, I would meet my companions for the next week to go (same thing, Thomas, Patty, Roscio and Chris, who forgot to take the group picture !? ;) )

And as I had to stop for the night in Copán, I took the opportunity to visit its famous Maya ruins, which are not the biggest ones ever, but the ones with the most preserved carvings, which actually look quite impressive. When looking at the pictures below, you also need to realise that all these statues and stelae were full of colours, which over the time faded away...

large_Copan_Ruinas__3_.jpg
large_Copan_Ruinas__5_.jpg
Another field to play the famous "Juego de pelota" (Ball game)

Another field to play the famous "Juego de pelota" (Ball game)


large_Copan_Ruinas__16_.jpg
Chris, I'm sure you are trying to say something very important here... Roscio seems captivated as well... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Chris, I'm sure you are trying to say something very important here... Roscio seems captivated as well... :)


large_Copan_Ruinas__31_.jpg
Three macaws posing for posterity near the ruins...

Three macaws posing for posterity near the ruins...

Posted by manolo84 09:48 Archived in Honduras Tagged ruins pyramids mayas Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]