Sinking

Tuesday 17 April

Still a little shakey from the night before, myself and Mike finally begin our training as scuba divers.  We watch very borning videos that put the fear of god into us, before attempting to suit up and get into the water for the first time.  All the gear: no idea.

Now I’m stepping outside my comfort zone to do this.  It feels very unatural.  We are not designed to breathe underwater.  I’m not designed to breathe through my mouth.  32 years of instinct and I’m told that my nose is useless.  I get the idea, try my best, but still keep ending up with mouthfulls and nostrilfulls of salt water.  horrible, dirty salt water.  Who actually said this was fun?

I struggle with it for the rest of the day.  Sometimes it works, other times its an epic fail.  I can’t seem to adjust to the notion of just breathing from my mouth, and as a result I panic, let the water in, then choke and splutter to the surface.  Lord knows what I’m going to be like 30ft deep.

I’m done in by the time we hang up the gear for the day, and both Mike and myself decide we need a drink.  Perhaps we will fare better in the morning, but it doesn’t help when everyone else we meet bangs on about what we’re not doing right and what we should be doing.  There is an odd crowd on this island.  I shall refrain from going into detail lest I offend, suffice to say they are not my kind of people, and this isn’t my kind of “sport”.

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Freedom!

Friday 11 November

We’re off!  Get me away!  Yes!  The ferry is horrible again, but nonetheless it is bringing me to the sweet, sweet mainland, and finally off the devils own rock.

A heavy day, night and day of travel lies ahead of us.  Mike, myself and two friends we met in Antigua are undertaking something of an odyssey to Leon in Nicaragua.  It will involve a one hour ferry, a three hour bus ride, a night in a petrol station and a twelve hour bus ride.  Eventually we hope to make it to our destination alive and in one piece.

The travel passes pretty well without major incident.  Staying awake all night in a petrol station is an interesting experience.  An odd collection of locals glare at our merry band with a mixture of interest and possible threat.  San Pedro Sula is not a place to hang around generally.  The all night “On The Run” chicken diner come petrol station is safe enough though, and we make it to the Tica bus tired but intact.  The only issue was the security guard telling us we couldn’t play cards…(?)  With his job that slow, perhaps it isn’t so dangerous after all.

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Beaten. Totally beaten.

Thursday 10 November

Another day on Utila.

I was going to just leave it at that, for comic effect, but I decided to go into a little detail about how this island has actually beaten me.  I shall refrain from labouring the point.

I’ve been very ill for four days.

I didn’t even manage to pass my basic open water scuba diving thing.

That “nice” Australian girl I spent yesterday evening with sucked the face off another Australian in front of me tonight.  Right after I bought him a drink.  Actually no.  During.  I was at the bar buying them drinks, and when I returned the deed was happening.  I should really have told him that I was with her last night and I’d started to develop an itch.

I walked home a beaten man.  Fuck you Utila.  Thank goodness I’m getting the ferry tomorrow.  It’ll probably sink.

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Perspective

Tuesday 08 November

“The greatest day of a mans life!” someone shouted at me from across the bar the other night.  This was after overhearing I had done my first open water dive.  One of the greatest days of my life recently was farting in bed and it being only that.  It appears the Imodium has done the trick.

Since lying in bed all this time I have in fact discovered I am staying on a building site.  My window opens (by opens I mean there is no window) onto the main street.  From this wonderful vantage point I can’t see anything, due to the mosquito net, but I do get a rich cacophony of the best Utila has to offer.  Regardless the time of day or night, my senses are treated to owls and cockerels having a sing off, spluttery motorbikes that haven’t had a service in a decade, screaming locals shouting abuse at each other, appalling music on repeat, and dogs joining in just for the fun of it.  I seriously think it would be quieter living with a drum playing baby in a corrugated iron shed at the end of a runway.

Now the beauty of being bedridden is you can have an excuse to mess around on the internet, and catch up on the old blog.  For the first time, dear reader(s), you are with me first hand, experiencing things as I do.  I am happily bang up to date with my warblings.  For your information I just put some camera batteries on charge and poured myself some water.  It’s just like being with me isn’t it?

I did drag myself out of the pit today to visit Utila’s Iguana Station.  This has by far been the best thing I have done since arriving here.  It was fascinating to learn about these wonderful creatures, and see the program the Station has for conserving them both in the wild and in care.  I even managed to touch the leg of a Tarantula.

Actually that last part was a lie.  I looked at it in a box from a distance.

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Recovering

Monday 07 November

Slowly but surely I’m making my way back from deaths door.  To be honest it wasn’t that bad, certainly not compared to what happened to my bowels in Russia.  That needs a whole blog to itself.

It affords me yet another day of doing nothing.  I wander down the one street, taking a few pictures as I go.  It really is a pretty unremarkable place.  The lack of photographs will either echo that, or the fact I’ve been so damn lazy.  I decide to take a stroll along to find Mike’s new home.

Getting away from the dive centre nonsense isn’t that hard, and you can start to at least attempt to acknowledge this is an island community in its own right.  Slightly off the beaten track you find residents homes, small churches, schools and businesses.  It makes you wonder just what the locals feel about this invasion of outsiders, constantly taking over their island.  Some perhaps thrive on the money it brings in, capitalising on tourism; while others look at you with contempt.  “Utila wasn’t always like this…”

Buildings can be divided into two types.  Those that are still standing, and those that aren’t.  Most are made from wood built on concrete stilts.  Every house appears raised off the ground in some way.  Many have rotted away, and are nothing more than empty shacks for the wind to whip through.  Occasionally you spot dwellings that have had substantially more money spent on them.  Is it little surprise to find American owners swinging from the porch bench?

On land, the mode of transport appears to be dominated by some kind of motorised vehicle.  By the looks of things, anything goes so long as it isn’t a car.  Mopeds, quads, tuk tuks, motorbikes, golf carts, motocross bikes…you name it, its tearing up and down the one street with wild abandon.  Nobody seems to bother either with age, or if you have any qualifications in driving these machines at all.  You could as well be a nine year old who won her licence in a raffle.

Quite a fair peg off the main street I find Mike’s riding stable home; with Mike nowhere to be found.  Evidence he has settled is displayed by the two young children swinging in his hammock in the saddle barn, so he’s probably off slaving in a field somewhere.  I linger long enough to watch two men whip the crap out of a manky old horse to try and teach it something.  I pity the poor beast and shuffle home.

Errrr.  That’s about it.  Again.  Perhaps something really exciting will happen tomorrow.  Perhaps I will be able to eat more than a banana.  Perhaps I’ll get hit by one of these damn motorcycle children.  Stay tuned to find out.

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Rough as a badgers arse

Sunday 06 November

Mike left very early this morning for reasons quite clear.  He has basically fallen in love with a girl working at the dive centre.  He has concluded that he must not shit on his own doorstep.  The enterprising young man has managed to find himself work and lodging at a stables down the road.  In exchange for being allowed to hang up a hammock, he will groom horses and cut sugar cane.  This enables him to spend a little more time on the island to see how things pan out.  Ahhhh the things we do for love eh?

Which leaves myself somewhat alone.  I’m swiftly moved to a dorm room, still by myself due to the fact I’m coughing and spluttering my germs everywhere.  I’m still really ill, and although its stopped coming up, its still leaking out.  This blog was never going to pull any punches so I won’t apologise for the gory details.

I spend the day sweating profusely from fever, within yards from the toilet.  I manage to eat some super noodles and keep them down.  I fall asleep early, listening once again to the horrible music and neanderthal drinking games booming out from the place across the road.  The only good thing about today is that it’s over.

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