As soon as I crossed the border via bicycle rickshaw into Honduras I got a nice feeling about the people. It may be simply the contrast with Nicaraguans I was noting. Don't get me wrong, I have met lots of very friendly Nicaraguans, but there is definitely something about their aura which is unsettling for some reason, in contrast to that of their neighbours. Crossing into Costa Rica from Nicaragua, for example, is like stepping into a parallel universe where everyone is suddenly inexplicably happy.
What I was less happy about was the unfolding reality of the longevity of my journey. I had left León at 4am and was try to get to Roatán, an island off the North coast of Honduras, by the end of the day. It all looked feasible on the map and I had made good time to the capital, Tegucigalpa, but the remainder of the journey looked bleak. I was going to have to stay a night in San Pedro or La Ceiba, neither of which were appealing; so in the end I just though sod it and jumped on a flight to Roatán. It was actually roughly the same price, but that is of little consolation to my carbon footprint. Sorry planet.
Anyway, I arrived in plush Roatán the same day, and immediately met up with my friend Heather - a volunteer from the turtle program last year who had since made a home for herself in Roatán as a Dive Instructor. One should never underestimate the dedication and money involved with becoming a Dive Instructor. The self-abuse involved with just becoming a Divemaster is enough to make me cringe. I love diving, but you have to ADORE diving to want to work at a dive shop. I doff my hat to anyone brave enough to embark on it.
Heather had flung her doors open to me and let me stay in a place that she was house-sitting, and so I had my very own loft apartment overlooking the sea, complete with three cats and a dog, free of charge. Unfortunately for me I spent the first week solid preparing two big grant applications for the program, which took twice as long as it should since it was the first time I had done it. I was really happy with them in the end though, so fingers crossed!
Roatán was a lot prettier and more developed than I was expecting, and the waters were pristine and well protected. The island has hundreds of dive sites all around it, and the diving was stunning. We went to a few wrecks and swim-throughs that were some of the best I had ever done, and Heather's dive company was part a high-end resort and so all of the equipment and boats etc were of really high quality. There was a cool backpacker-friendly area in West End that had some good bars and we partied quite a lot, but the place could be dead at times and it was generally pretty expensive. Utíla, I hear, is more fun, but apparently there is no established conservation effort there yet, and so the seas are in a bit of mess with lots of illegal practices going on. In Roatán they have a problem with invasive lion fish taking over the reefs, so most of the Dive Instructors now have spear-fishing licences and routinely head out to take out a bunch of lion fish. Consequently there is lots of lion fish on the menus of the restaurants and it's pretty damn tasty.
I had considered staying in Roatán for a while, but in the end I had to make a decision about where I wanted to be for semana santa (holy week or easter) and it was essentially a choice between stuck in vomit central or getting to Antigua in Guatemala to witness perhaps the most important semana santa celebrations in Central America. I opted for the later, and so left all of a sudden to Copán in Honduras and on to Antigua.