Utila, for all its parties, bars and quirks, is primarily a diving island, and while my dives are reserved for the final week, we have done plenty of snorkeling. There are various places on the island where the coral and fish are great for snorkeling. All of them are actually away from Utila town, as sewage is dumped in those waters (hence why few people jump off the jetties most bars have at the back). One, which we went to on Thursday, is in the north of the island, and the best way to reach it from the town in the south is to kayak, which is what we did on Thursday. As one of our weekly trips, all the volunteers, including the four new ones (making us 8), rented single and double kayaks and set off on the river through the mangroves. While it was pretty tough going, especially against the current on the way back, it was a welcome change to trekking through the mud on foot. After about half an hour of this we made it to a northern beach, or Rock Harbour as it’s known. This was home to another breathtaking Caribbean beach, and a floating dead dolphin just off shore. Here people sunbathed and relaxed in the shade. A few of us also took our kayaks out to a small coral-y island just off shore, parked up and did some snorkeling. Probably because this is the least developed beach on the island, the snorkeling was the best I’d done here, and I saw a wide array of exotic coral and fish, including plenty of ‘Dories’ (a fish from Finding Nemo). I’m sure José took a go pro of it so I’ll try and get a video up eventually.
My roommate José
Unfortunately I was rather naive in my application of suncream that day, and returned with painful red chicken legs. Fortunately the burns are now becoming a tan, which is always kind of what you’re after when deciding to go to a tropical country.
One disadvantage of living in one, especially an island, is the insects that want to eat you. There aren’t any poisonous animals on the island, although the girls still seem pathologically terrified of the tarantulas, and there aren’t even many mosquitoes. But there are sand flies. If you aren’t wearing any spray at any point during day or night, you will be bitten mercilessly, which I discovered during the first week I was here. Either they’ve got bored of my taste now, or my burns have covered the pain, but I seem to have got past that for the moment, while the new people are still suffering.
On Friday we went to one of the many Utilian bars’ 10th anniversary party. Tranquilla is probably my favourite bar because the jetty has a second storey, unlit, where you can just look up and on a clear night watch the stars. Because Utila is an island and electricity is not widespread (one night I was walking into town and all the lights went out. Only one place had an emergency generator, so it was very cool to walk the pitch black streets, avoiding the occasional motorbike or golf cart another method of transport here), there’s very little light pollution, so you can easily spot constellations and secondary stars. Anyway, the party got pretty crazy and waking up the next day for an 8am start wasn’t fun, but in the afternoon we went to the water caves. These are network of underground/water caves that can be accessed by a gorge near the airport. We didn’t dive inside, but went for a swim in the surprisingly warm water, and had our feet pedicured by the shrimp that inhabit the water. We also heard about a German guy who once tried to snorkel them, but either lost air or his light and drowned. Going there, I think common sense would dictate not to try it without t the proper equipment.
Lastly, a couple of days ago we had to feed the snakes. Unfortunately we had to feed them mouse babies, or ‘pinkies’. In a way it’s interesting watching the snake catch and consume prey, but pulling the babies away from their mother is a bit awful.
For the past 5 days I’ve also been having Spanish lessons, for $120 per 20 hours, which I think is pretty good. She talks quite a lot about her family, in English, which is slightly annoying, but I do learn things in between those conversations.
I’ve also possibly got access to a computer now so maybe I can start editing some film together.