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Most backpackers traveling in Honduras visit the beautiful Bay Islands.  Utila is one of them, known as the cheapest place to learn to dive.  It´s a 1 hour boat ride from the town of La Ceiba.  It was late afternoon, the sun was low bringing out the colors of the sky and the Carribean Sea.  I was sitting at the bow of the speeding boat, watching the island grow bigger and bigger on the horizon.  I was ready for another adventure.

Diving is the opposite of mountaineering, but I like outdoor sports and I had to try it.  The next day after arrival I started PADI Open Water diving course.  It involved watching videos and reading a book to start with.  Later, doing 2 confined water and 4 open water dives, filled with tasks to practice new skills.  At the end, an exam, 50 questions, 1 mistake.  Easy.
Then I realized my diving was over and I decided I wanted more.  The next step was the Advanced water course.  It promised some great diving, like night or wreck diving.

I signed up and the same evening we set off for a night dive.  It wasn´t really dark on the way after the full Moon appeared above horizon.  We prepared all equipment and, one by one, entered the black liquid.  Sinking underwater in the dark was a little scary and very exciting experience.  After a few meters we switched on our flashlights and soon reached the bottom at 20m.
One great thing about night diving are the colors.  Water absorbs red very quickly, so at depth everything looks blue and dark.  But with artificial light suddenly the reef exploded with vivid red.  It was stunning.  We entered channels, narrow canyons and a cave, all formed by beautiful corals.  It looks like rocks in the mountains, but water makes a lot of difference.  It allows to float effortlessly, almost as condors suspended next to big mountain faces in the Andes.  The feeling was fantastic.

It was my best dive until we went to the north side of the island.  The reef there is equally beautiful, but is home to much more fish then the south side.  As part of the course, we spend 30 min identifying  sea life.  I didn´t see anything new, but I started to pay attention to what it is that I see.  It made me realize how much variety is out there.  Before I only distinguished between 2 types of fish: big and small or colorful or not.  I wasn´t even sure what is dangerous and what isn´t.  However, knowing that Black Urchin can sting didin´t stop me putting my hand in the wrong place when we were wreck diving.  I felt sharp pain in my thumb and I realized my mistake.  Another valuable lesson.  Look where you put your hands!

Anyway, it was an excellent dive.  The Haliburton wreck sits at 30m making it my deepest dive.  It was sunk in 1998 on purpose, to create a wreck dive and an ecosystem to complete Utila´s diverse underwater world.  It takes some skill to dive a wreck, as I learned bumping my tank entering through small doors and windows.  It only made me want to practice more.

The next day we finally went to dive in the Black Hills, according to many people the best site in Utila.  It´s an underwater mountain, where corals and countless fish found it´s home.  One of the highlights for me was swimming amongst hundreds of 3 inch long, vivid blue fish.  They were not afraid of divers.  When I found myself in their path, they swam past me just in front of my eyes, as if I wasn´t there.  It feels like being in a huge aquarium, where some of the most amazing colors and shapes the nature has to offer are on display.  Sadly, it isn´t a cheap sport and I had to move on.

It took me a whole day to get to Guatemalan border.  Roads are not bad in Honduras, but most buses would go straight to a museum in Europe.  When leaving a town they stop in various places where the guy why sells tickets gets out.  His job is also to fill the bus with passengers.  He almost pushes his victims into the bus, then runs along the road looking for more people waiting for transport.  So when I asked if the bus was going to Agua Caliente, he say "yes", and then it turned out it was going in the right direction, but I had to change.  
Later, in places where we stopped, sometimes more than 10 people entered the bus, selling anything from food to pens.  Some as young as 8, others as old as 70.  I appreciate the fact that they try to earn a living honestly, even if they are too pushy sometimes.
After crossing the border, I found myself back in Guatemala.    photos