When I arrived in Honduras, my first impression was that it reminded me a lot of my trips to Baja and the Yucatan with one of my old travel/dive buddies. Except I have not yet fully submerged a rental car in a body of water (a tale for another time).
No sooner had I arrived in La Ceiba, the director of the language school (my former host “pop”) told me I would not be staying at the original resort, as planned, but at an “even better” one–the aptly named Cross Creek Resort. See, to get to it, you have to walk about 200 yards from the road (mit suitcasen), through what is possibly the city dump, and over–what else?–a fetid little creek. It’s also constructed over the decimated remains of a mangrove forest. The term “bad feng shui” comes to mind.
My first stop was the dive shop, conveniently staffed by snooty British 20-year olds who couldn’t answer basic questions about upcoming dives and the boat schedule. Then, the luxurious “resort” itself. Our rooms (mine and my tutor’s) turned out to be dark little plywood-like boxes surrounded by a horde of Eurotrash backpackers (think “The Beach”).
The place definitely caters to the down-at-the-heels demographic. Turns out, the showers are defective little spigots installed about 6 feet up on the bathroom wall. The control is ON the spigot, so it can only be turned on, in my case at least, by standing on a chair. Except my room has no chair. So I managed to turn it on by jumping up and whacking the handle sideways–all those games of tetherball in 6th grade finally paid off. Very creative, I thought. The spray came out horizontally at a height of about 6 feet, doing me little to no good. However, that was okay, because as soon as I got my hair wet, the water went off anyway. The communal toilets, which are about 50 yards away from our rooms, are the type where you’re afraid to touch anything. But that was okay, too, since they (all two of them) were backed up and unusable anyway. Have I mentioned my loathing of communal toilets in general? No? Well, I loathe them.
Between 2 and 3 a.m., all the backpackers returned from the bars. That was okay, too, because the noise from my fan drowned out their yelling (not to mention retching), at least until the whole island lost power at 4 a.m. It was a good thing I packed my flashlight.
After two nights of this utter fucking travesty of a shithole (to put it nicely), the third day I decided to take matters into my own hands. After all, I’m paying the language school for the accommodations for both me and the tutor. So this thing is on my dime, and I want a nicer place to sleep, dammit.
As with most mornings, my first order of business was to find coffee.
This may sound like a simple enough matter; however, it was not so. The entire island of Utila had lost power, so I had lurched out into the bright Caribbean morning to hunt down a source of caffeine. After a few brief inquiries, the locals pointed me toward the woman with the taco stand on the other side of town, who just happens to have a kerosene stove. Voila! Coffee. (By the way, I did conduct the entire transaction in Spanish, before 7 a.m., and–obviously–without the aid of caffeine. In my book, that counts as an historic occasion.) Coffee-getting successfully executed, the next order of business was to find a new, acceptable hotel, which involved me wandering around town, making inquiries in Spanish. I had already decided all of this needed to be accomplished without my tutor knowing, and possibly protesting…or worse, calling host pop to tattle.
Utila actually has several nice-ish places. I found a much nicer place, called the Holland Inn, right in the center of town. I arranged for two rooms and went back to the “inn” to tell my tutor we were moving. He didn’t argue with me–he just shrugged and said “you’re the boss” (I really need to hear that more often), then confessed he didn’t like the Cross Dump Inn, either. He did call Host Pop to tell on me, but because Host Pop knows me, I believe he just shrugged his shoulders in resignation. Possibly a muttered curse under his breath…but, hey, I lugged video game crap for his kid. I deserve a working shower and toilet.
As soon as we checked in, I showered at the new place, luxuriating in my actual ability to reach the shower controls and get my hair somewhat clean. Between the hotel hunt and my Spanish lessons, I did not get to dive. (But I firmly believe I should’ve gotten a gold star from my teacher for my early morning extra-credit language usage.)
I’ll be diving with a dive shop called Deep Blue while here. It was my original destination, but it turns out the resort itself is on a little cay, so that’s why I can’t stay there–it was too expensive for both me and the tutor to stay there. I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to go anyway, and tell the tutor to forget the lessons and go back to La Ceiba. I was feeling very unmotivated to refresh my Spanish, to be honest. But, of course, sending him back to La Ceiba would screw him out of a week’s income.
Deep Blue’s dive operation looked like a good one–they were at least professional and, dare I say it, polite.