Utila, We Will Return to You

Utila is a tiny island, the third and last of the Honduran Islands as we headed west, after Guanaja and Roatan. We left Roatan in the morning, ready for a bouncy ride. Sailing alongside Ocean Rainbow,Ocean Rainbowwith Claire and James aboard, brought us great comfort, and knowing Cynthia and Sean were sailing nearby on Arkouda, was icing on the cake. Many people say you shouldn’t travel in these waters, so close to the Honduran mainland, without buddy boats. But I love the company for other reasons. It’s fun to take pictures, chat on the VHF, and get excited for new landfalls with others.

Arriving in Utila was easy. Coming around the reef was obvious with the crystal clear water. Many dive boats, tied to mooring buoys or anchored, revealed to us where the best spots to snorkel were. We made our plans to drop anchor and dinghy over for our own adventure. We were not disappointed.

Hippyville was my name for this town. Everyone looked young, happy, relaxed, and ready for adventure. Tourism was nonexistent here except for the typical backpackers. Most of the islands and mainlands we have visited on this journey have many backpackers. This term in New England is usually reserved for those on the Appalachian Trail or some other mountain climbing adventure. Here, in the Western Caribbean, it is used for folks who arrive with heavy backpacks, find super simple living arrangements on boats, in tents, or in hostels, and float through streets looking dreamy and happy. Many are looking for kite surfing and scuba diving. Here, the many dive boats would be their day homes. And the hammocks near the docked boats would be their siesta sites.

Somehow, Bill and I just melted here. We glided down into a rooted calm. Maybe it was the fact that the anchorage was quiet. No 40 knot winds, no reef right on our bow, no fast ferry boats buzzing within ten feet of Alembic every fifteen minutes. Whatever it was, we liked it. Getting water was simple and cheap; just 4 cents per gallon at the dinghy dock (or drive up in your big boat). Restaurants were plentiful and catered to the backpackers who have only pennies to their name.

Simple dining
Simple dining

Our favorite restaurant was this tiny shop where a French guy has been making crepes for nineteen years. You can choose sweet, savory, eggs, meat, or veggies to top them. We had eggs, tomatoes and avocados and were sold on this being our favorite stop.

Tranquil Sunset
Tranquil Sunset

Sunsets were idyllic, taxis were hilarious,

Three wheeled taxi
Three wheeled taxi

the grocery store was simple and well stocked,

Simple Grocery Store
Simple Grocery Store

and the other shops were tiny buildings with goods flowing out onto the streets.

Classy display of important stuff
Classy display of important stuff

People, bikes, dogs, and three wheeled golf carts shared the streets with no particular pattern. No cars, no rules, no “stay to the right”, just a bunch of wanderers meandering in swerving paths. Nothing posh, anywhere. Just the way we like it! It made me realize that Bill and I are truly happier with simple surroundings and relaxed rules. Getting dressed up and doing anything fancy only adds stress.

Five inches gone
Five inches gone

Wandering down a street, Bill said “let’s get haircuts!” so we headed into the shop with a Barber Shop pole. Unfortunately, the guy who cuts men’s hair never showed up, so Bill had to rely on my trimming his hair on Alembic later. Looking around the shop, I was comforted by the simplicity. No products, just water in a spray bottle, no magazines, no fancy hairstyle pictures anywhere, just family photos on the wall, no blow dryers. Not even good communication, because she only spoke Spanish and I haven’t gotten to the “haircutting” chapter of my Spanish learning. But, I was thrilled with my new short cut!

Reluctant to leave, we set out at 8pm to weave through a few boats and prepared for an overnight crossing to Belize. Cay and George would be arriving in a few days and we had to get there ahead of them. As much as we looked forward to Belize and their visit, we also longed for more time on this sweet island. Another year…

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