Surprise! I’m in Honduras!
No, this was totally not in the plans, but after a few completely underwhelming days in Antigua (more on that another time) I was invited by a new friend to travel to Utila, Honduras and decided that I couldn’t pass up the offer.
So, one grueling 19 hour bus ride across the border later (plus a 1 hour ferry ride, lovingly nicknamed the “Vomit Comet”) I found myself in the tropical island paradise of Utila.
To be honest, I had no idea of what to expect from this little slice of Caribbean life. I hadn’t planned on visiting Honduras during my trip, and had absolutely zero prior knowledge of the geography, currency, or things to see and do as I arrived at the Guatemala-Honduras border.
As for Utila itself? I had NO expectations whatsoever. No images in my mind of what it may look like, or hopes or fears about what I might find there. And truthfully, I sort of like arriving in a new place in that state. It makes it easier to avoid disappointment if it’s not a place that I enjoy much, or makes for an unexpected and amazing discovery if I do love it.
And what did I find in Utila? Let’s just say that I’ve been here for 8 full days now, and don’t feel any rush to leave.
I’ve actually been up to something pretty cool since I arrived here and was hoping for that story to be my introductory Honduras post, but turns out my body had other plans for me and decided to become a mucusy, swollen, infected mess a few days ago. So, the surprise will have to wait until after I’ve healed and continued on with it!
I started feeling a bit stuffy and congested around day three in Utila, and brushed it off as allergies or a minor cold. Nothing to stop me from having an amazing time, right?
Well, that WAS the case, until a minor stuffy nose turned into chest congestion, coughing, wheezing, sinus pressure, ear pain, and to top it all off, a serious infection in both eyes. I finally threw in the towel with pretending I wasn’t sick when I woke up and my left eye was completely swollen shut, my eyelashes sealed by a thick green mucus.
I found my way to Utila’s public clinic (where the power was out and the doctors wore jeans and T-shirts) and waited on a bench outside in the hot, humid air for my turn inside.
After a quick consultation and a fee of 150 lempira (6.80 USD) I found myself with prescriptions for two immediate injections (in my butt, no less…they hurt like hell), 10 days of antihistamines, 5 days of antibiotics (3 times per day), 3 days of eye drops (2 times per day), and a cough syrup as-needed.
Like I said: mucusy, infectious mess.
The nail in the coffin? Seven days of no alcohol, coffee, sugar, or swimming.
Oh, so no swimming or drinking on an island that’s all about swimming and drinking? Psh, no problem at all!
The thing is, I don’t feel well enough to travel to a new location right now, and I still have a few things I want to do here in Utila after I’m feeling better. So my plan is to wait it out; chill out, rest, take my medicine, and heal.
In the meantime, a week of no fun means plenty of time to catch up on blog posts (which I’ve been severely neglecting…sorry!) and fill you in on exactly what I’ve been doing here in Utila for the past week:
Soaking in the sunshine.
My daily routine consists of waking up, eating some breakfast, laying in the sun, diving into the clear ocean water below the dock of my hostel, eating lunch, swimming some more, tanning some more, eating dinner, and going out to the bars.
Tough life, right?
My life revolves around the sun here: laying in it, taking refuge from it, and watching it sink below the horizon in a pink and orange display every evening.
Every day at sunset, the entire hostel gathers out at the water’s edge to watch the sun disappear into the edge of the world. People sit and drink beers or float in the warm sea water, talking and watching and waiting. It’s a ritual, and one that I never tire of taking part in.
Exploring the island in a golf cart.
One of my favorite activities so far here in Utila? Renting a six-person golf cart with five new friends and exploring the island!
This day was SO much fun. For just $10 per person, we received 5 hours of roaming around Utila in our cart, exploring every nook and cranny and getting lost on the muddy back roads.
We bumped along unpaved paths, tree branches scraping the roof of our cart and mud flinging up at us from the tires, bouncing and laughing and keeping an eye out for unexplored territory.
We came across a few secluded beaches (most of them disappointing and littered with trash, sharp rocks and extremely unfriendly-looking urchins; Utila isn’t known for its beaches), family farms, thick jungles, and even the island’s little airport.
When we returned the cart, we were covered in sweat, sea water in our hair and mud on our bodies, and the cart was densely speckled with dirt and muck. The shop owner just shook his head and laughed as we rolled up sheepishly, pretending not to notice how much of a mess we’d made.
Utila is a party place, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t indulged a bit here and there.
There are a few signature bars where everyone seems to flock to, and I’ve spent time at three of them: Skid Row, with its infamous four-shot challenge; Treetanic, with its colorful and artistically designed grounds; and Tranquila, with its deck over the water and notorious Tequila Tuesdays.
I need to take it easy for the next week since my antibiotics are pretty strong, so I’m looking at lots and lots of hammock time, reading, writing, and maybe exploring more of the island. Once I’m healed and healthy again, it’ll be time to wrap up my stay in Utila and map out the rest of my route for my trip (since, clearly, my original route has been abandoned).
The upside is this: I can’t think of many more places in the world where I’d rather rest and recover from an illness!
Have you ever been sick abroad? How did you handle it?