Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Feb 26, 2003.-- Honduras:  3 yrs-9 months; 86,000 miles; and 47 countries

Credit to in Utila

-- Story by Chris --

Sunday, Feb. 16th: Erin’s brother Mike is due to arrive from the states tonight – he is coming down for a week holiday, and the 3 of us will go to the Bay Islands for some diving. The Islands are known to have some of the cheapest diving in the world, and the setting of small-island living, surrounded by a beautiful reef makes this a very popular place for travellers. Utila and Roatan are the most popular of the islands. Utila is smaller and less expensive, while Roatan has better beaches.

It’s so hot La Ceiba you can hardly breath in the middle of the day. The normally reliable cool breezes have gone away for some reason and it’s just bloody hot and humid with no place to get out of the heat. Well, there is one place---- the matinee at the cinema! Good thing they were playing Lord of the Rings because it’s nearly 3 hours long.

When we returned from the matinee, Chris and Simi have arrived on their Africa Twin, after longer-than-anticipated stay in Nicaragua waiting for a new fuel pump to arrive from Europe.

By midnight, Mike still has not arrived. We check internet Monday morning, and find a Nor Easter has hit in Washington DC, leaving 2ft/60cm of snow on the ground. We check email every day, and each day Mike is hopeful that "tomorrow" he will come. Once he arrives, there are 2 options for getting to the island of Utila: 6am & 3:30pm 15-minute flight for $20, or 9:30am 75-minute ferry for $10.

Weds, Feb 19th: After much anticipation and itinerary changes, Mike’s plane has left DC, and he is finally on his way!!!! He will hopefully arrive in San Pedro Sula in time to catch the 2pm flight, which will arrive in La Ceiba around 2:45pm.   It is only now that we realize, that we should have told Mike to wait at the airport, and we could catch the 3:30pm flight to Utila.  We decided to take a chance, and try to catch him at the airport.  Before we left the hostal, we confirmed that we could leave the bikes parked in the garden for free, packed our gear, then jumped into taxi out to the airport to meet Mike.

The agents at Sosa Airlines checked their manifest and confirmed that Mike had indeed made the connection from San Pedro, and would be landing at 2:45.  Although it is the 3rd largest city in Honduras, La Ceiba has a tiny airport, and they showed us where to sit and wait for Mike to arrive. At 2:40 an agent asked us where Mike was. We said we hadn't seen him, and that the flight wasn't due for another 5 minutes. They said the plane landed 10 minutes ago.  Huh?!?!  How can this be?  No one has passed where we were sitting!  We asked if there is another possible exit, and as the agent’s eyes bulged, we knew the answer! We immediately called the hostal, and left instructions to send Mike back to the airport if he arrives.  He arrived at the hostal a few minutes later, about 3pm, and was told to return to the airport for the 3:30 flight. He was tired and confused, and was sure HE was at the right place.  He wasn't going anywhere!   The staff from the hostal called us, then put him on the phone, and he quickly returned. The agents held the plane until he arrived.  It wasn't the warm welcome we planned for him, but we managed a quick hug as he got out of the taxi as the agents grabbed his bag and we scurried out to the runway.  Fortunately, the flight was far less eventful.

We landed on a paved airstrip, with no structures or buildings anywhere in sight. When we reached the end of the runway, the plane turned around and we got out. There were 3 Taxis waiting, as small groups of tourists bartered to get their best deal. It was a 10-minute $1pp ride to town. We discovered and checked into a terrific little place called the Bayview. Double room with small bathroom was $14/night, and the rooms were right along the bay. There was a small dock, and plenty of seating to just laze and watch life on the bay.

Mike wanted to get his PADI open-water certification, while Erin & I wanted to do some fun dives. After getting the rooms settled, we walked around to check a few dive shops. Prices for the OW ranged from $119-159. We chose to go with Ecomarine/Gunters, for their reputation and the good feel we got from the staff. The shop is only 100 meters from the hotel, at the next dock -- Tomorrow we begin!

Thurs, Feb 20th: Viola – 45 months into the journey! Mike’s class began at 8am, and would take 3 days for certification, plus 2 fun-dives on Sunday, for $149. Erin and I signed up for the $125, 10-dive package (5 dives each) plus a $10pp Tune-up course, since we have not dived in several years and needed a refresher. Additional dives were $12.50 each, and there is a $3pp reef charge for each day you dive.

We spent the next few days diving, eating excellent fish dinners, relaxing, and watching the sunset while drinking cuba libres. Mike was thrilled with his instructor, Kara from Canada. The OW classes range from 1-5 students. Erin & I dove with different Dive Masters each day, never more than 3 of us. They were from different countries, and all were super friendly! The water was clear and calm, and visibility was terrific. We saw an array of fish, coral, lobster, shrimp, rays, and eels.

Sunday morning was the last day of diving, and unfortunately Erin couldn’t dive as she was having problems equalizing her ears. She came out on the boat anyway, as Mike had completed his course the previous night, and we were to do our fun-dives together. The first dive site was Raggedy Caye, at the edge of the reef with a big drop-off wall. The water, usually calm at the other dive sites, was quite rough. There were 6ft/2m swells, and the bike was bucking everywhere. It took about 10 minutes for the boat to catch the buoy. Mike and I quickly got our gear on, and got out of the boat moments before nausea set in (Erin had taken a Dramamine). The currents were pulling us about, but once we got down behind the reef, things were much easier. Our Dive Master brought us down deep, 100 ft/30 meters, but we only stayed a short time as the more interesting fish were higher up. When we surfaced near the boat 50-minutes later, my air was near empty. Mike and I were tired, and swimming casually on our backs. Unknowingly, the swells quickly pulled us away from the dive boat, and Erin called out to us when she realized we were taking our time.

It was quite an effort to swim back, as we had to fight the waves and work our way to the safety line at the back of the boat. Even with the help of the line, it took a lot of effort to pull ourselves back to the boat. When Mike and I finally scrambled back into the boat, we were exhausted. It was a good thing we didn’t eat breakfast, as it wasn’t long before we were on our knees, hanging over the side of the boat, mouths wide open... This happened to a few others as well, so we didn’t feel embarrassed. One diver drifted too far, and 2 dive masters had to swim out and stay with him until the rest of us were aboard and the boat could go pick him up.

It took only 5-minutes to leave the area, and the water was instantly calm again. We stopped on the tiny island of Pigeon Caye for wonderful fish burgers. About an hour later, we did our last dive, which was calm and beautiful. In the afternoon, we returned to Ecomarine and said good-bye to everyone. We would highly recommend this place if you come to the Bay Islands.  Check out at their website.   They also just opened a backpackers hostal across the street, including kitchen facilities -- cost is $3pp for a 4-bunk dorm room, or $7 for a double room.

Monday, Feb 24th: We returned to the airstrip at 7am, and the small prop plane arrived shortly thereafter. About 12 of us boarded the plane, and we flew back to La Ceiba. Mike caught a connecting flight to San Pedro-Miami-Washington DC, and we caught a cab back to the hostal.  (DC was buried again in snow a few days later)

We arrived at the hostal around 10am, and while packing up the bikes, the staff approached and said we had to pay for parking. I’ll spare you the long version, but the manager (an angry man who never comes to the hostal) now wanted us to pay $20 for leaving the bikes in the yard, after we were told repeatedly by the staff it would be free. The police got involved, and after they gave the manager a harsh dressing-down, we left without having to pay.  It was unfortunate end to our stay in La Ceiba, as the staff had been really friendly.

We rode to the northwest corner of the country, and spent our last 2 nights in Honduras at a very relaxing hostal, called Roli’s Place.


Erin has not seen brother Mike in 4 years, and nothing's changed!


Ecomarine / Gunters Dive Shop

photo courtesy of Ecomarine

Each morning we had to wake early, but at least sunrise was spectacular!

Preparing our gear for the day's diving

Mike is going in!


Blue Chromis swimming about

HU.Utila.Blue Chromis.JPG (13474 bytes)
photo courtesy of Ecomarine

Coney Fish

photo courtesy of Ecomarine

Social Feather Duster

photo courtesy of Ecomarine

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