Day 16 was the last day in Antigua. After Acatenango, Clay and I were supposed to go a surfer hostel in El Peradón but the shuttle was already full when we got off the mountain. We decided to just stay in Antigua for the last day. We killed time by walking around the city and the farmers market—only this time we actually found the farmers market. It felt like it went on forever. Every turn you took just led to another giant section of vendors. It was quite comical to see all the counterfeit brands of Nike, Adidas, Rolex, Ray Bans, and others. The people there work hard, though. I’ll be posting about an experience Clay and I had another time.
At 7PM I left for Guatemala City via shuttle. I was back to traveling solo again since Clay was flying home the next day. I arrived in Guatemala City around 8PM. Since the City is quite dangerous, I had to be buzzed into the hostel. I was let in by a metal gate and greeted by a nice woman who forced me to practice my Spanish. I don’t typically talk about other people like this, but the girl in my room was one of the oddest people I’ve ever met. I asked her where she was from and she responded “I’m not from this planet.” Initially, I just kept unpacking my bag until I fully realized what she had just said to me. Seeing where the conversation would go, I asked her “So where are you from?” She informed me that she was a spiritual transcendent from a foreign planet. It gets ever better. She said that Ricky Martin—yes Ricky Martin the singer—was her creator. She handed me a paper that outlined exactly how Ricky Martin was her creator was the master of a fallen planet with a weird name. Just by happenstance, Independence Day was playing in the room. I was now watching an alien movie with an alien. Never would I have imagined this situation. I was honestly afraid to sleep that night.
Luckily, I didn’t have to be around her for that long. My flight out the next morning was at 6AM to San Pedro Sula and then 8AM to Roatan Island. I met a lovely Guatemalan/US couple along the way that helped me around the airports and provided great company. This entire trip I had planned on staying in Roatan for diving. However, I’ve heard so many people talk about it’s neighboring island Utila that I decided to change my plans. I figured if there was enough people talking about it, I should listen. As soon as I got to Roatan I caught a taxi to the ferry. I booked my ticket to Utila for 2PM. I killed 5 hours by getting some food and drank at a local bar and then sleeping at the ferry station.
I finally got to Utila around 3-4 PM, choosing to stay at a hybrid hostel/dive center called Alton’s Dive Center. The complex is massive compared to other places I’ve stayed on this trip. It has two hostel buildings, a diving center, a bar area, a dock with a cabana, free kayaks, and a common area in the middle. I’ve met a ton of cool people here already. There’s a college out of Kentucky that sends students every year here for one month. They get college credit for getting scuba certifications and identifying fish. They gave me their Quizlet study guide so I’ve been able to recognize a ton of the fish I’ve seen in the water for the first time ever. I’ve also hung out with a few Australians. Last night we all shared some of our travel stories/videos and recommended places to each other.
I am striving for my Advanced Open Water certification while I’m here. This will allow me to dive down to depths of 30 meters/100 feet. The Advanced course has 5 main dives: 1) Deep Dive 2) Navigation 3) Shipwreck 4) Peak Buoyancy and 5) Night Dive. Today, my group consisted of a guy from Brazil, two girls from Germany, and a girl from Finland. We completed the first two dives of the course in the early morning hours. We reached a depth of 30.9 meters on the deep dive with a bottom time of 32 minutes. We spotted a loggerhead sea turtle, great barracuda, two lobsters, and a number of different reef fish. It was rewarding to be able to identify the different reef fish by myself. The human mind typically processes things slower under higher atmospheric pressure, so we completed a cognition test at the lowest point. The test was measuring how fast we could point to the numbers 1-20. Sounds easy but the numbers were in a jumbled order. After comparing the underwater results (24 seconds) with the surface results (18 seconds), my brain functions about 6 seconds slower at 4 bars of atmospheric pressure. Our instructor brought down an air-filled water bottle to the lowest point. At 30 meters the water bottle was completely flat from the pressure increases. Furthermore, the color red does not exist that far down. Red turns a brownish-blueish color. Most of the other colors of the color spectrum can still be seen, but their vibrancy is lessened or the appearance is diluted.
The second dive was a bit more shallow at roughly 14 meters. Since it wasn’t as deep, we were able to hit 45 minutes of bottom time. This dive was the underwater navigation part of the course. It’s the only part you can actually fail. We spent the first part counting our kick cycles which help us estimate the distance we’ve travel underwater. Then, we used a compass to navigate straight lines and square formations. After these beginning steps, our instructor tested our natural navigation skills by leading us out away from the boat and forcing us to lead her back. For this part, we weren’t allowed to use the compass. Instead, we had to use our memory and the natural indicators of the wave motion, current, sand ripples, and sea floor formations (e.g. sea fans form perpendicular to prevailing currents) to get back to the boat. The dive pattern followed a coral reef wall broken by various sand sections, so we found our way back easily. It was a blast for the first day. I’m actually the weakest one in the group right now because I breathe through my air faster than others. I don’t think it’s because of anxiety or stress underwater because I feel relaxed. It might be because of my asthma. I’m not sure. Time will tell. At the very least, I have plenty of room to improve! Tomorrow we finish the course with the remaining three dives. I’m really excited for the night dive because every group over the last few days has seen bioluminescents only native to the Caribbean. This island reminds me very much of Caye Caulker, only someone isn’t trying to push drugs on you every 30 seconds. Sorry I don’t have many pictures from here. I’m spending a lot of time reading the dive book and getting to know people. I also can’t take my GoPro into the water because I don’t have the dive housing. I decided to share all my videos from the planes because I thought the views were extraordinary. Thanks for watching and reading as always!
Countries I Have Met People From: