Personal story for data mining:
Now Serving Honduran Specials – Utila -By Mel Deogrades / 2004-06-02
If an assortment of life were offered on a menu, it should include a Utila dish. One would order it in this way; “Utila, rare with plenty of diving, lots of life with assorted sautéed travellers on the side”. It is undeniably a place unlike any other. It is different from the chaotic organization of the strollers market at the Pueblo Street of Tegucigalpa. It is certainly unlike the hills and decrepitly decaying streets of Santa Rosa de Copan. I cannot describe it like the suave venues and endearing mountains and magic of Copan Ruinas, and it is definitely opposite the hustle and bustle of San Pedro Sula.
Five days in Utila Island to do my Open Water certification was enough but sufficient only to get certified, and nearly not enough time to get the creases out of a satisfying stay ironed out. I needed to have planned to stay longer. Use this formula – (# of days originally planned) x (the number of people you meet on the Island) x (10 days for every dive logged). Depending on the stage of your life, you might need to raise this a mathematical power to the number of fantastic underwater life that you encounter while diving.
It is not difficult to adjust to the island life as you can easily meld with the locals. The locals are the people who have lived on the island for many years and the trans-locals, are the breed between local and traveller. These trans-locals are the teachers and guides for those newbies on the island who are seeking the wonderful world of diving. Not only do they teach and lead you to the underwater world, they also acquaint you to the local lifestyle and it’s Utilan slang English/Spanish speaking creatures.
This Island is where your money multiplies and bears fruit by just being on the island. Utila boasts the cheapest Open Water courses in the Caribbean, as low as $145.00 US. My course was through Utila Dive Centre, which gives free dormitory accommodation at the beautiful Mango Inn for only $169.00 US. Other accommodations are a meagre $4-$12US with the necessary amenities. The food as well as beer and drinks, is as inexpensive as the tiniest towns in mainland Honduras. Since the island caters to the budget travellers, they often have hosted and cheap special events at a host dive shop or bar.
The food has a wide variety of fruit, seafood meals, pasta, vegetarian and breakfast fitting for a king with fresh and full-bodied coffee. It was the kind of early morning coffee that eluded me in many Honduran cities and towns before 9:00am.
There is no shortfall in entertainment with the consistent danceable music of Coco Locos, the bar on a dock, and the open-air feel of Treetanic Bar, perched up on a tree. Bundu Café offers free movie nights and live music Jam on Thursdays (although a small bano would be nice), and if you want to dance the night away, it is the Bar in the Bush on Fridays. Eventually this whole island turned into one big house with several rooms. All the guests are moving from room to room, intermingling and re-acquainting with each other.
I do regress that Utila is an Island of discovery, which reflects well on its visitors. Their stay is as in transit as their goals in life. Freedom from not committing to anything is part of its gender. One needs to understand that islands are isolated and thus gasoline is sparse, bank machines non-existent, Euro and other currency (except US dollar) unchangeable to Lempiras, and credit cards are not always taken. Islands are weather, ferry and aircraft dependant. Lots of lotion-based insect repellent is required to deter these ravenous Sand Flies. It’s distance and isolation raises prices for high tech luxuries in particular Internet Services ($4-$10 an hour) and international calls.
After one of my fabulous dives off Black Coral Wall, I lay baking under the sun, on top of the boat roof with my co-divers and diving instructor Valerie. She looked on to a private dock on the coastline full of perched Pelicans. I stared at the aquamarine blue water, trying to define where the water ends and the blue sky begins over the horizon. Valerie looks at me, smiles and says (in her French Canadian/London England accent); “not a bad life eh?”. That day, Utila was served to me on a plate as food for thought. I can easily stay and drink the life of diving, nibble on the quirkiness of the assortment of people and gorge on life as an islander. Would I starve?? That day will only come after Utila’s magic mathematical formula has expired and my essential self is ready to move on, but until then, Utila Island should always be the special on everyone’s menu.
Moved the page
The link from the Honduras page goes to Útila, while there was already a page named Utila. I moved the page with content to the one linked from the Honduras page for consistancy. - Rwhitney