Roatán, Honduras

Posted on September 28, 2018

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Roatán makes up one of three Bay Islands (Isla di Bahia), Utila and Guanaj. They are situated between 25km to 50km off the north coast of Honduras.

I touched down on Wednesday and several hours later I was slipping beneath the warm waters of the Caribbean once more into incredible visibility with a beautiful healthy reef. Eight weeks in England and Ive been dying to get salty.

The dive new intern manager, a 28 year old BrazilIan, not long qualified as an instructor, came with me. We’ll call him Mr Flipflop, “I have 16 pairs, because they are so cheap and they fall apart so quickly,” he confessed to me yesterday chugging ice cold club sodas after work.

Our dive together was a full hour and we went deep, 40m, not intentionally, but I was astounded at how clear the water was. I like him. He has a good work attitude, is punctual and loves diving. I hope my first impressions are correct and we continue to joke and get on well. He’s not a big drinker and he seems to be a decent human being from the conversations we’ve had.

The boat captain who we call Capi is adorable. A family man with three kids and a hard worker. He always wears a smile and each day I’m learning more Spanish from him. I’m surprised at how much I have actually absorbed from my time in Costa Rica and how much I am learning daily.

I live in the dive apartment which is under a bakery. Each morning the smell of coffee, sweet buns and cinnamon greets me as I open my front door into the warm air. I start work at 0730 and finish at around 4.30. The road to work is not paved so you hug the side of the tarmac while walking as cars and trucks laden with workers in the back whizz past. It’s a solid 2.2km to the shop and I pass lush green vegetation, typical food shacks and an artisanal chocolate factory and shop.

So far there is another girl living with me. She’s 26, a Divemaster intern and has been here since July. Peanut (she snacks a lot on peanut butter and carries a small jar in her bag). She’s originally from South Carolina but is a free spirit who has a thirst for travelling and is keen to conquer the world and ocean. There are others arriving – three more people, all instructors, in the next couple of weeks – the space will be cramped. I just hope they are clean and tidy.

Since qualifying as an instructor I have struggled to find paid work. I’m just too green in terms of teaching experience. I’ve certified 15 people since March but the courses have all been the pre cursor to a full Open Water Certification known as Discover Scuba Diving (DSDs). Five DSDs are equivalent to just one cert, so I actually only have three full certs under my instructor number.

This placement is to help me achieve my goal of getting around 30 certifications by next March. I’m working for free in exchange for accommodation and a small stipend towards food each week. I’ll be doing something similar in Thailand from December.

The dive shop is set off the main drag so we are hidden. There are positives and negatives. We don’t really get passing trade. It’s word of mouth and we rely on businesses that we partner with to send us customers – five hotels and one big hostel. The company works a lot with students who are doing marine conservation programmes and need to learn to scuba dive. I’ve been allocated a student tomorrow. I’m teaching a rescue cert! Straight in at the deep end. Tomorrow will be classroom Emergency First Responder (EFR) course, first aid, primary and secondary care, followed by water scenarios.

The vibe in some parts of Roatán reminds me of Mexico 20 years ago. It has a laid back rustic feel on the cusp of development but not quite there yet. Half Moon Bay is the quiet end, as you walk towards West Bay it gets crazier with bars, restaurants and shops back-to-back. Food produce is fantastic on this island. I’ve stuffed my fridge with fresh broccoli, courgettes, tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic, ginger. I’ve bought sweet pineapple, red apples, bananas and avocados. A sack of rice and large bags of dried red, black beans as well as lentils. I’ve cooked every night and intend to keep my nutrients up to avoid falling ill. I sleep in a bunk bed, there is air con, which I can live without and a cold shower. The cost of living can be reasonable if you shop wisely. Eating out is hit or miss – really cheap or stupidly expensive. I’ve browsed menus but haven’t actually been anywhere yet.

I’d like to explore the island a bit on my day off. I may try to bunch a few together to get more time to do things. Tonight we’re taking clients on a night dive, which I’m excited about. Hope to see some octopus. Our prices are $35 for one tank and outside of work hours (sunrise or night dives) are $45. But discounts are offered for friends, family and regulars as well as multi dives.

I’m not itching to go out after work, quite happy to avoid drama. I want an easy seven weeks. Happy hour is wasted on someone like me. The popular drink is Monkeylala – baileys, coconut-cream, rum and coffee liquor. It’s $2 for drinks at happy hour, cheaper than a fresh coconut. Remember this is the caribbean.

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