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Snorkeling in Utila

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Grey Angelfish
©Cristian Pi

Snorkeling in the heat and sandflies – Escape to the cayes – Why people move (Map this!)

Mosquitoes, Sandflies and stifling heat were our first, second and last impressions of Utila. We were in the Honduran Bay Islands, famous for its diving. Specifically, Utila is the bargain hunters windfall where you can find the cheapest and best diving schools in the world. So we were told.

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Jewel Caye

After the magical Caye Caulker in Belize, Utila was a disappointment. As soon as we stepped off the boat we were deluged with diving school offers. The island streets were overflowing with traffic and fifteen minutes in the sweltering heat convinced us to get a hotel with air conditioning. Shortly thereafter we escaped to Jewel Caye, which was supposedly sandfly free.

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Hotel Kayla, Jewel Caye

Other than the substandard lodging on the caye (the only hotel was run by a diving school), Jewel Caye was very pleasant. Diving of course, is the name of the game here, leaving snorkelers feeling a bit left out. Nevertheless it was enjoyable to take advantage of the great snorkeling just off the pier and relax in the cooling breezes that sprang up in the afternoon swapping stories of fish sightings.

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Coral in Utila ©Cristian Pi

Steve the divemaster absolutely had to have his fishburger the day we were supposed to leave the caye, thus causing us to miss our ferry to the mainland of La Ceiba. This is how we ended up staying at the Jade Seahorse in Utila. Made by a Californian artist, this weird fantasy land made for a good night’s stay. It also made us debate the reasons that people leave the US.

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Jade Seahorse

Treetanic bar, Jade Seahorse, Utila

I would have liked to live in New York city, but I can’t afford it. I can afford Guatemala.
– Truck driver from the US, living in Guatemala.

I do not like the US. Too many rules.
– Proprietor of Popi’s, Nebaj, Guatemala

I always knew I could do stuff that others couldn’t.
– Proprietor of Pizza Copán, Copán Ruinas, Honduras

I have no family in the US. Jose is my family now.
Lindy Ferguson, living in Merida, Mexico.

Affordability, flexibility, adventure, family – whatever the reasons, I was surprised to find the number of people leaving the most sought after country in the world to live in third world countries.

9 Responses to “Snorkeling in Utila”

  1. madhuri says:

    Did you take the underwater pictures?!

  2. Neena says:

    Hi Madhuri,
    No, the underwater pictures were taken by Cristian Pi, who we met on Jewel Caye.

  3. Sevda and Dirk says:

    Heey guys,
    How is Leon?? Nice and hot?? haaha joking Neena. Granada is really really nice. I think you two will enjoy t here very much. The surroundings are just beautiful. I have tip for you. When you come to Granada stop at Lake Opoyo. Just relaxing, probabely no flies or sandflies, nice cabins and a beautiful lake surrounded by a Vulcano.
    Thankx a again a million for the lift.

    Sev and DJ

  4. Vinay says:

    Your comments on people making choices to leave the US to live in a poor(er) country are interesting. I would be interested in hearing your further thoughts on this..

  5. Neena says:

    Hello Vinay,
    Since we are thinking of moving away from the US to another country (temporarily at least) we try to dissect the reasons we want to do so. San Francisco has almost everything we want, it is a beautiful city with access to hiking and sking, we have a large friend circle there, I love the weather, it is liberal and welcoming and the cradle of the tech industry. Its not an easy question to answer except for a vague “we want to try something different”. So it is interesting to observe why others do so.
    All my college years were overshadowed by everyone’s dreams to go to the US. It is the land of envious dreams and often dislike, but everyone wants to immigrate anyway. A reverse migration is something different altogether, moving to a poorer country from a richer one.
    Surprisingly (or maybe not so) economy seems to be the common factor in both cases, whether it is Indians moving to the US for monetory opportunuites or Americans moving to Mexico or Guatemala so they can own their dream house. But some of the idealogical reasons we heard were more interesting. Some Americans seem to have moved to Central America just to get away from their country for whatever reason. We saw some Mennonites in Mexico and Guatemala and were debating what their reasons were. Interestingly, a fascination for the culture doesn’t seem to be a main factor as most ex-pats seem to seek each other out and rarely mix with the locals. We even met some Americans that didn’t speak Spanish after many years in Mexico!

  6. abeline says:

    Dear Neena and Shreesh – I agree. Most of the expats I met left their native countries because they were not happy with the lives they were leading. Which seems like a negative choice.
    I did not know you were thinking of relocating to another country! Am curious to know which country is at the top of your list right now?
    Abeline (writing from Playa del Carmen – Mexico)

  7. Neena says:

    Hi Abeline,
    Shreesh wanted to go to Hungary and I was pushing for the less adventurous Montreal. Prague is another choice. It has to be place where we can get jobs and has to be non English speaking. We gave a lift to a Dutch couple and they suggested Amsterdam :)
    We have to go to Sicily for a wedding in September and at that time we were thinking of checking out possible alternatives in Europe.

  8. Shreesh and Neena: We look forward to your great adventure.
    As where to live, there is no ideal. Just keep traveling. You are having a great expeariance. We are traveling through you.
    We did like Miorca, Spain……

  9. Fred says:

    There is always the issue of standard of living. With modest means (by USA standards) one may live well in the Third World. For some this means cheaper retirement, for others a way to get out of the rat race of American life.

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