There is a cluster of islands of the coast of Honduras, known as the Bay Islands. There are four main islands; Roatan (the cash cow or ‘jewel of the islands’ I’ve heard said), Helene, Guanaja, and Utila. I have come to Utila, off the beaten path. An island famous for its scuba diving, the majestic whale shark, and surprising number of American (and other English speaking) permanent and semi-permanent residents.
But before I tell you of the beauties of this island (only viewed through sheets of rain as of now) I must tell you of our journey to the island….the undoing of which all started with a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar with Almonds. *Warning-this story is not for the faint of heart
We awoke at 3:30am, an hour that reminded me of my time working at a packaging company in Batavia for a 10 hour shift 4 days a week. We got our cab and headed to the bus station. Wearily got on the bus for a 3 and half hour drive, which I mercifully slept through most of. During the ride to La Cieba, where we’d catch our ferry to Utila, we stopped for a bathroom break and snacks. I got a Diet Coke, granola bar and the dreaded Hershey’s Bar. I ate my granola and drank my coke, saving my chocolate for the boat. Oh, foolish, foolish, silly girl.
We arrived at the dock for the ferry, joining the population of American hippies, native Hondurans, and other American volunteers itching for some time in the sun. While waiting to board the ferry, rain started to pour. I didn’t think anything of it. We made our mad dashes to the ferry in groups. And I don’t know what you see in your head when you think ferry but I thought of a nice little flat bottomed boat with a deck, maybe a little snack stand where I could get a coffee.
It was a little cage bubble of Plexiglas and metal torture chamber of death. When we first got on I was like “Oh! How exciting! It’s almost like a submarine!” I got a seat by one of the few plastic windows, with rows of people behind me. Once everyone was on, and the boat started revving up, I saw a man handing out plastic bags. I started laughing! Ha ha! Its just a little boat ride, a little rain, we’ll be fine. I’ve read a dozen or so books about life on the high seas, romanticized live on the ocean blue, I’m a seasoned traveler. I’ve got a strong stomach, and besides I’d read enough books to know what to expect. We started heading into the sea, and it was fun! Up and down and crash and bang. I stood up to look out into the sea and imagined I was Charlotte Doyle, Christopher Columbus, Napoleon, this Scottish Piratess I read about not the day before, Jack Sparrow. I continued to peer into the unknown. Until….I started hearing things….smelling things…..I dared to look back. Half a dozen people had their head buried in those white plastic bags. A fellow American Volunteer we had just met had turned the shade of slate, sweat through her clothes and was heaving into her little baggy.
I will not succumb. I resumed my post, dedicated to Captain to her vessel. We will see this maelstrom through, we will arrive swiftly and to double profits! She is a beauty, my brig, more than able to brave the tempest! Oh no….half dozen more bags going out. Up and down, up and down goes the boat. People are asking for a second round. Children are buried in their parents’ laps. Women are embracing each other. People are openly praying for the rapture. That American volunteer is dripping sweat off her face. And is on her third bag. Or was it her fourth? I’ve lost count. Eyes to the open sea, eyes to the open sea. Dozens of the passengers were just puking their guts out. Up and down.
This is IMPOSSIBLE. I’ve read about seasickness, sea legs, etc. a million times. Eyes to the sea, eyes to the sea.
Enter Hershey’s Chocolate Bar with Almonds. (Consumed at the onset of our voyage)
From stomach to pretty little white plastic baggy. Fortunately, I immediately felt better. But the looked down and noticed their was a hole in my bag, dripping my once delicious chocolate bar (now in liquidated form) all over me. Ok, that's TMI. I know, I’ll stop.
Oh, it was terrible. Stuck in this muggy, hot, thick, vomit filled cage of death. There was no air circulation. Just all stuck till we got there. I heaved one more time, grateful that I was vomiting chocolate instead of a burger and fries….which I’m pretty sure the dude in the back was doing. I also felt a little bit of a pansy, as I was the only one in our group that got sick.
We finally landed. Ah, the sweet divinity of fresh air and a band of locals greeting you in their bare feet. Needless to say, the events following that boat ride have been wonderful and I’m not even half way through yet. The rain seems to be subsiding, and I love the local rhythms here. More to come. And if you ever buy a Hershey’s Bar with Almonds, please think of me, because I’m not sure I can ever eat one again.