29/06/2014 - 03/07/2014
Sush and I left Leon early this morning. At 8am we left in a minivan that would take us all the way to La Ceibe (pron: La Sabre) in Honduras. I opted for this method as it was a lot safer than staying the night San Pedro Sula - the city with the highest murder rate in the world (3 a day).
The day consisted of a 12 hour journey from start to finish. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful journeys so far. Honduras is stunning with an amazing back drop with rolling tropical mountains along the way. Once we arrived in La Ceibe we paid our driver $75 (which sounds steep but doing it the other way we would have only saved $10 and added a lot of messing about), and he dropped us off at the hostel, Estadium (or something like that). It wasn't great but not the worst I've stayed in but did have hot water! The owner, who grew up in America, clearly had the American bug. After paying $10 we ended up then paying another $5 for breakfast and then $3 to be dropped off the next morning at the ferry. It seems that this is a common trend at this end of Honduras due to the diving scene.
We were up at 8am for an omelet on toast and then went to catch the ferry to Utila, which is one of the Bay Islands in the Caribbean. The ferry cost $28 and would take an hour to get there - leaving at 9:30am. The journey was rough to say the least. There were people being sick all over the place. Once we got off the ferry we went to Underwater Vision, the dive school everyone had recommended.
It was here that I will now complete my PADI Open Water Diver qualification for only $299, including accomodation. I arranged it so that I started all of my theory (Knowledge Review questions) today just to get it out of the way as I had to follow videos. Although I'm currently 2 days ahead of schedule I want to save those days for Guatemala and Mexico. The theory was very dull and I was the only one doing it as they allowed me to do the qualification on my terms rather than waiting to start with a group.
The hostel seemed quiet so Sush, Sophie (a girl we met on the bus) and I went for a nice meal up the road. I opted for snapper! The restaurant was on top of the sea, which was a nice touch. A quiet night all-in-all so I went to bed so that I would be fresh for my next set of tasks in the morning.
This morning I met my instructor, Alicia, who would teach me how to dive and all of the stuff that comes with that. We started off running through the questions I went through yesterday. We then took a break and went to the dock (on site) and got all of my equipment together, which included the mask, snorkel, tank, BCD, SPD, regulator, fins and wet suit. From here I learnt how to put it altogether. We then went through various confined water skills (necessary before the open water). I'll spare the main details but included taking off your mask underwater, then putting it back on and then using water pressure to clear the water so you can see again - a very odd thing to do if you've never dived.
We bombed through this and had lunch. I then met Vanessa who was in a different group but was ill yesterday so joined me to catch up. We then did the Open Water dive's: 1 and 2. We did further skills and dropped to a depth of 12m. We also spotted 4 Spotted Manta Rays swimming in a majestic manner. An incredible experience. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take my GoPro down for this dive as I'd need to have my hands free. Alicia didn't hear the end of it.
Post-dives we had wings at the hostel for Wing Night before going out. The bars were good but it was shit as I had no group of friends as it was just me on the course. One downside to doing it solo.
This morning I met back up with Alicia and finished reviewing questions. We then left to do dives 3 and 4, now dropping to 18m. These would be the final dives that were necessary to be a qualified diver. Luckily for the last 3 dives I could take my GoPro. The pictures tell it better than me. Being in a small group means that you can see things easily and not with everyone on top of everyone else. Using oxygen tanks at depth causes a build up of nitrogen in the blood so it makes you surprisingly tired. After I finished the dives I went to take my final test consisting of 60 questions, the last hurdle to jump over before getting PADI Open Water qualified. I passed!
I had decent burger (first in ages) at the bar but took it easy tonight as I had to be up at 6:15am again tomorrow.
This morning is now the time to do my two free fun dives (included in the price) now that I'm certified. The first dive I saw lots of incredible things including a massive eel right in front of me, a puffer fish and many sorts of other fish.
The second dive wasn't so amazing but we swam along a huge sea wall that dropped off into the deep ocean.
In the afternoon we had lunch and went to Treetanic, which was a massive bar and it was competely hand made by some guy out of bottles and other random items.
This has, by far, been one of the best experiences of my trip. I've managed to discover a whole new world, overcoming my uncertainty for the sea, and experiencing coral reefs and fish in a way I have never done before. I am definitely going to dive more in the future.
I now leave Sush for a bit as she wanted to stay longer in Utila, which is fine by me. I'm now joined by Ofir, an Israeli girl, who is going in the same direction to Guatemala.
Next stop, Copan Ruinas, mainland Honduras, near the border of Guatemala!