“Floyd when you come let’s go diving in Utila” I said. Of course he said ….sounds good, having no idea what diving all entails. Perhaps we should have given this a little more thought, but being an adventure lover let’s go! We found a dive shop that had room for us over the holiday break here in Honduras, and paypalled our 100$ reservation.
We booked with Parrots dive shop. All together Floyd and I payed 700 dollars with tax and a couple of days private accommodation. Due to some miscommunications we spent 4 nights in the dorms, but that worked out ok. We took the Padi open water course and received a certification. Upon walking into this I had no idea we would be diving for 5 days straight, or that the days would be 10 and 12 hours long.
From San pedro sula we took a bus to La ceiba and arrived at almost 9 pm. The last ferry to Utila leaves at 5:30 so we were not going to make it to the island this night. Of course every taxi driver in the city was trying to take us somewhere. No internet and no phone dropped in the middle of La ceiba on a friday night. I explained to a cabbie that we needed a place to sleep and hopped in having no idea where he would take us. At this point I was praying….”Not the Hilton” but whatever happens, happens. This cab driver was good at reading my MO and took us to a hostel in central (mid-market area). It ended up being the Guacamayos back-packer and a private room was just under 20$. The staff here was great and even ordered and delivered us food!
Floyd and I were up early the next day and dropped at the Utila dream ferry. The lady from the hostel took us and got our tickets too. The Utila ferry charges approximately 25$usd per person for a one way ticket. At the pier someone from the dive shop was waiting to welcome us! Here things got a little mixed up. I booked and paid 100$ each for Floyd and I in advance. We ended up owing 440$ usd that we pulled out of an 🏧 in lempiras. So the quoted 260$ usd per person had some tax and transfer fee. I also booked thru the dive shop private accommodation at Rubies hotel for 20$ a night, we only stayed 3 nights there.
We began our diving intro that evening with 5 hours of video teaching. The videos didn’t run all 5 hours but the power went out and we had to read and answer our questionnaire. I did gather some information from the videos but most of it didn’t make sense. Our instructor was Joel and he was really really the best. In the morning we had class on diving equipment and the afternoon and evening we were swim tested and donned snorkels and fins. Snorkels are actually an important part of diving because you put them in your mouth after you spit out your regulator. This way if it’s choppy out you don’t inhale copious amounts of water and panic.
The next class day we put our equipment together and took it apart. With everything being so new to us this was a repeatedly done. By the afternoon we were actually diving right off the dock. We were slowly eased into diving because our class needed to be confident enough to dive without a guide. On a foot note you can dive with a master guide without completing the open water course. Breathing under water in a regulator is a new thing. We practiced many tasks for diving in the shallow water both days.
Then it was time to dive deep! What can I say…. I’m scared of deep water first of all. However if I can see in the water I don’t panic. I think the most important thing in diving is to remain calm and hopefully breathe, of course if you run out of air you won’t be breathing. Descending to the ocean floor was a trial and error process. While descending you have to equalize the pressure in your ears. Unfortunately this was a long and annoying process for me. After descending a few feet down my ears wouldn’t pop ( release pressure) so I would have ascend a foot or two up and wiggle my jaw, swallow, plug my nose and blow…. It was a long process each time I dove and of course everyone was always waiting on me. After arriving in magical under water play-ground we again completed our competency tasks. This included quit breathing and spit out your regulator, signal your partner that you are out of air using dive signs, and wait for them to provide you with their rescue regulator. Like I said….I really hadn’t thought the whole diving thing through. Along with take your mask completely off and put it back on, blow all the air out of it (do not breathe in your nose!) while seated 40 feet under water. I actually held Joel’s hand during that last exercise because he would not have let me die.
The last day of diving we were free to hang with our buddy and play around a bit. Some interesting things I have learned from the course were about decompression sickness and how to manage how much residual nitrogen I have in my body. Sound scary? It really is. If you dive to deep for to long you’re in trouble ( this is calculated in a mathematical chart). If you come up to fast from to far you’re in trouble ( especially over 18 meters deep). If you run out of air you’re in trouble. If you lose your buddy or the boat you’re in trouble. If you run out of air without you’re buddy and you’re deeper than 60 meters you will probably drown and get the bends. It’s a super awesome sport though promise!
I really enjoyed all the staff from Parrots dive shop and Utila was beautiful. My instructor Joel was the best and I absolutely had complete faith that he knew what to do. Our instructor in training said the last day we completed a very hard dive. It was hard because the waves were huge, we had to fight a huge current and I was sea sick and trying not to vomit ( you can vomit in your respirator). I was amazed at the beautiful new world we saw and look forward to diving more! Utila is one of the cheapest places to learn to dive and there are many dive courses offered on the island.