Week 1, Captain's Log: Hello, Heaven, It's Me, Margaret

It is hard to believe that it has only been a little over a week. Courses have begun and have been completed. People have come and gone. I have moved in and out of the dorms, and I shall try my best to recount the week in full, but in the likelihood I do forget something, I do know this: it has been wonderful.

This is Utila Dive Center (the classroom during my time here)

As part of the Open Water class through Utila Dive Center, I was staying at a dorm at the Mango Inn. While most of the power on the island runs on diesel, I did discover that the Mango Inn runs on solar. (Bonus!) Here is a little peak at that place Note: there will be many photos of animals throughout this. There are a lot of dogs and cats running through the streets, but there are also so many crabs that come out at night.

It was here that I met my roommates, Kip and Debbie, two Denver nurses, with whom I was very lucky to live and dive with for the week. Almost immediately after meeting, we started our Open Water course together. This class is the thorough basics of diving— what gear is required and how to check it, how pressure affects the body and how to prevent squeeze (issues with releasing pressure in the body), how to descent and ascent responsibly, and how to dive responsibly (for yourself and with creatures).

In this course, we dove about 5 times, the best of which was our last dive, around a coral wall and small boat wreck. During this dive, I started to feel a bit more comfortable and stopped thinking about the fact that I was 18 meters underwater breathing from a canister. I started to feel the sense of flying and started to notice more and more creatures— flounders, sergeant majors, rainbow parrot fish, a sunfish, trumpet fish, scorpion fish, blue tangs, angelfish etc. Toward the end of our dive, our instructors and assistants (Logan and Red, Chris and Kat) gathered us in a circle, toward a patch of sand, where we all kissed the sand with our regulators as our final grad ceremony.

Congrats UDC Open Water Divers! (Kip and Debbie on the right of me)

Here are a few photos from my wanderings around the island.

I have to stop and talk about Rethink cafe, a vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free friendly little haven. This shop is owned by two of the GoECO instructors (Suzie and Dani). I stopped in and found so many plastic-free supplies and education encouragements. On that note, I want to say that I am wildly impressed with Utila, in that I have yet to see a plastic straw; the default here is a glass and a metal straw. Amazing! (And more rants about plastic to come. I promise.) It was at Rethink that I began to spend my mornings. How could I not, with a view like this?

I am, of course, not the only one with this idea and soon met David and his companion, Luna, two wonderful new friends and breakfast buddies.

I can’t count the number of people I have met who came for vacation and never left- seems to be a trend. Here’s hoping that return flight sticks.