With a soft touch the big jet lands in the dark in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. We pull out our flashlights and arrange for a taxi to take us into town. The check-in at the hotel is done by candlelight. Generators are whaling outside the few bars that line the streets in the vicinity. I meet several travelers who ask me If I am going to the Bay Islands. I told them I have been reading about Roatan. One of the travelers recommended going to Utila the smallest and least expensive of The Bay Islands. That’s all I needed to hear— Utila here I come.
After a sleep in the dark and having a tropical breakfast, I was told the entire city was on electric ration. They normally have electricity for a few hours in the late afternoon so people can cook. The rest of the city operates on sidewalk generators when needed. As always I can’t wait wait to hit the road and check out the South Sea looking Islands that are so close to the United States.
The big bus roars out of town with me sitting on the motor in the last seat on the bus. What do I care— maybe the thermal heat will take care of some of my aches and pains. The fellow sitting next to me on my left offers me a sandwich as we travel through the countryside. He wants to know if it is true that education in the states is free. One bloody wing of one new military airplane would pay for every child’s education in Honduras. At the central park five year old boys work 12 hours a day shinning shoes and selling chick-lets one at a time to earn enough to eat. School is out of the question, because that costs about $30.00 a year and most of the poor cannot even envision that much money—yet alone pay tuition.
Miles and miles of royal palms jut up next to the highway as we make our way toward La Ceiba. We make various stops to let people off the bus and pick up some going that direction. The bus breaks down— it sounded like the transmission went out. No problema! The bus driver walked several hundred yards to a nearby house and came back with some tools. A few hours later we pulled out and off we went as if we were on a demolition derby as the bus-driver crashed through the ruts and potholes.
I spot bright red Marlboro Man tin ads hanging underneath bridges, attached to some houses and placed any place they can put one up.(got to sell those cigarettes) The new white plastic chairs are a big hit as they dot the countryside and are the mainstay at all of the restaurants. I sometimes wonder if man needs a governor on himself so he doesn’t ruin anything more. It would be called a “ruin governor” and would blast off every time someone got a stupid idea of polluting the planet even more,
Arriving at La Ceiba I could see the blue Caribbean sea and made my way to an ole sea-dog from Holland, who had rooms for rent, and a tiki bar built next to his backpackers hostel. Sitting in a rocking chair, the Sea Captain filled me with hair raising adventure stories that simply wet my appetite to travel more and more.
The following morning I took a bus part way toward the Muelle de Cabotage (the docks) in La Ceiba and then decided to hitch the rest. The docks are located some 15 to 20 minutes by cab from downtown la Ceiba— so don’t be surprised when you head out on a unmarked country road. Standing there along the roadside, a bevy of young soldiers popped up through the ditch, camouflaged by tall grass, and surprised me with their machine guns. Minutes later they showed me their bullets and gave me a half of loaf of bread and disappeared into the thick brush.
A vegetable truck picked me up and delivered me to the ferry docks. At the docks I met a New Zealander who was attempting to travel around the World on his bicycle. He spent a year in preparation and had special tires, shocks, and spokes. At this point in his travels he had logged thousands of miles. He was shot at three times, robbed once, nearly run over by speeding trucks and cars several times, invited by a girl’s father to marry and been bitten by several dogs.
One bike, one small back-pack, and a lot of determination brought this traveler on the road. I admired him and only hoped for the best. He said he would be traveling for one year or more depending on his health, money, and etc. Little things like a bus ticket now take on a new dimension. That’s what I like most about travel—– it let’s you think.
Utila is World famous as a diver’s destination with over 50 dive shops and a reef so rich with fish and corals and it is only second in size to the Greater Barrier Reef of Australia. Utila Island is the least expensive place to get your PADI divers rating and you can arrange special dives to meet your individual needs— including night dives and shipwrecks.
I had my five piece Fenwick pack fly- rod with me and met another fly-fisherman from Austria. We walked to the most Easterly point on the Island and waded in the blue waters casting with the current. Using a small, blue, handmade streamer with some gold tied in the belly, I caught several small Jacks and a couple of ugly, brown, fish, which I had never seen before. At any rate it is always good to get out and wet a line.
Utila island is unique with picture postcard houses dotted around the front harbor. It has a poplulation of around 2500 folks— most of which are centered around the town of Eastern Harbor. You can walk to the beaches in less than thirty minutes and find everyting you need on mainstreet including restaurants, a breakfast coffehouse with Johnny Cakes and an owner who will call you by your first name on your second visit. With a stiff British accent: “How are you this morning VanScott?” I stayed just over the first hill at a private guest house and ate some delicious breadfruit, fried plaintain and fresh fish from the sea. .
While walking to the backside of the island, I met a man on a huge black mule who told me he had a large vegetable garden and supplied most of the town with their vegetables. The people are friendly— mostly speak English, and live on one of the quaintest island paradises in the world.
Getting here is easy, there is a regular passenger ferry, the Utila Princess, which runs 2 times a day between the mainland port of La Ceiba and the Municipal Dock arriving in the centre or “El Centro” of the town. Depending on your time schedule you can either fly direct from San Pedro Sula to the Bay Islands or go by bus which taxes approximately two and one half hours. Utila’s small Airport receives several flights a day from Aerolineas SOSA and Atlantic Airlines.
So there you have it! If you want an island experience that feels and looks like a South Seas Island, would like to get your divers certification at cut-rate prices, explore some of their rich history, and become a part of a friendly island, where everyone knows everyone—- then why not book a trip to Utila in The Bay Islands of Honduras.
QUOTE: “The temple is buried in white clouds But the monk does not sweep them away. As he opens the gate to receive a guest, All the vales look hazy with flying pollen.”
– Yi Dal (1539-1612)—–dailyzen.com
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: What fish catches Other Fish with Its Own Built-In Rod and Reel?
The Frogfish is an unusual creature because of the way it catches its food. Long threads that look like fishing lines grow out of the frogfish’s head. At the end of these threads are barbs, resembling the notched ends of a fishing hook.
As the frogfish waits for its prey, it lets these threads float in the water. Smaller fish, thinking these threads are worms, take a nibble. But that nibble hooks them on the barb and they are immediately eaten by the “fisherman.” ——bigsiteofamazingfacts.com
THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Your Temper! What good is it anyway?
ZENTRAVELER SAYS: It’s all in zee travel! Virtual or real—– who’s keeping score?
Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free.