Wednesday 7 September 2016

Island life, reef expeditions and a hurricane…

It seems like I blinked and three months went by...

After our last visa run to the US and Mexico (which you can read about HERE) we returned once more to the island of Utila, the smaller of the Bay Islands off Honduras for our fifth three-month-long stay on this beautiful Caribbean island since we first came here in 2014.

On our way back to Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras

Feeling excited to be back to our island home of Utila 
Flying over Ecomarine Dive Centre!

During our previous three months on the island in March, April, and May of this year, my husband Trav completed a PADI Staff Instructor course at Coral View Dive Centre. This time around, we were returning to Utila so that he could take up a voluntary position teaching scuba diving to students on a reef conservation management expedition at Coral View Dive Centre. 

Trav’s internship over a period of eight weeks during the summer was a fantastic opportunity for him to gain valuable experience working and teaching scuba diving as a PADI Staff Instructor.

When the expedition project was over, Trav also completed his IYT Powerboat Captain Course. I’m so proud of him - what a busy year in which he has achieved so much!

While Trav was busy teaching scuba diving, I was busy too working on my next novel entitled ‘Island in the Sun’ which I hope to publish later in 2016. During that time, when I was researching and writing about a hurricane in the story, we actually had a hurricane warning for our part of the eastern Caribbean Sea!

Hurricane Earl had started out as a tropical wave and, during my research watching the National Hurricane Centre website, I watched it progress to a tropical storm and then become a hurricane. Trav accused me of conjuring it up!

Hurricane Earl

Everyone on the island began to prepare for Earl’s arrival in earnest by cutting down trees that might fall on power lines or properties, moving items like diving equipment away from the dockside, battening up beachfront properties, taking boats to the safety of the lagoon, and of course planning hurricane parties and mixing hurricane cocktails.

With only a few hours to go before Earl was expected to hit our island, the hurricane changed course - and we got a day of wet windy weather instead. But of course other places were not so lucky and our friends in Belize reported quite a lot of damage to palm trees and property but thankfully no-one hurt.

Our last few weeks on the island were spent at a more leisurely pace, riding our bicycles around the island, getting a couple of new tattoos (me) and spending time on the dock with our lovely friends at Ecomarine Dive Centre – our home from home on Utila. We also had lots of parties on the beach and BBQ's and movie nights on the dock and we had lots of fun at carnival time. Once, I even got to swim in the sea close up to a pilot whale and her baby and several times I got to catch tarantulas in our house and put them back outside on the porch. All part of the amazing aspect of island life on Utila!

Our bikes parked outside Rehab Bar
Steve 'Daddio's' birthday beach party on Utila:
Photo by Dave Thatcher
Ecomarine dinner at Mango Tango Restaurant Utila
Trav and Steve at Ecomarine Dive Centre
Having a drink on the dock of the bay at Mango Tango
A tarantula spider in our house on Utila
With my friend Giselle on Carnival Day
Happy days out on the Salva Vida with Trav and Ecomarine

My new tattoos came about because a guest tattooist called Jeff Dott from the USA came to Utila and, after seeing his work, I decided to finally get my 'mermaid and diver' tattoo done on my thigh and, to cover the scar on my foot, a 'marine' montage with a shell, a starfish, a sand dollar and a sea turtle.

Getting my new tattoos - no pain no gain...

Leaving Honduras for the USA in late August

We left Utila in late August when our three month visa once again expired and we flew to the US. We stayed for a week in Florida on the east coast at Lauderdale by the Sea – a quiet little seaside town that is a bit of a throwback to the 1950’s. We rented a little self-catering apartment opposite the beach and we chilled out for the whole week.

On the beach in Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida
Our small rental and pool in Lauderdale by the Sea
The small town of Lauderdale by the Sea Florida

It was such a treat to go to a big US supermarket and to see the huge variety of foods available. After our long stay on a small Caribbean island that only got supplies by boat twice a week, we could hardly believe our eyes. We bought steaks and sausages and cheese and vegetables and lots of other fresh yummy foods.

It was such a treat to buy a variety of fresh foods in the US!
Trav at the BBQ

We enjoyed shopping for food and cooking for ourselves in the BBQ back at our apartment. We did eat out a couple of times however and we took walks on the beach and lazed around in the sun at the pool and we slept - we did a lot of sleeping to make up for the sleep loss on Utila - where we were woken every morning by our natural alarm clock of ear-piercingly loud cockerels crowing outside our bedroom window at around 4.30am!

A view of the beach from Aruba restaurant
Having beers and burgers and enjoying live music at Whisky Tango Bar in Fort Lauderdale

Revived and refreshed, we set off on our next adventure by flying from Fort Lauderdale to Vancouver Canada, where we were to stay with family for the next two weeks. My Uncle Ed (my mum’s brother) and his wife Dawn have, over the years, often invited us over to stay with them at their home in Hope, British Columbia, so we thought we’d take them up on their kind offer at long last and visit.

Canoedling in British Columbia Canada

So do pop back soon to catch up with our exciting first ever trip to Canada!

Janice xx