Honduras: there’s always one.

When James and Ashley left on our fourth day on the island, I threw my I love you over my shoulder as I braced myself to run through the streets in a tropical downpour. I seriously hate goodbyes. If there hadn’t been the need to brace against the rain, I probably would have had more time to think about how sad it was that I wasn’t sure when the next time I’d see them was. I’ve never been one of those people who gets stuck to home, who wonders what I’m doing every time I get back on the plane to Sydney; but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to look my loved ones in the eye and tell them how I really feel every time I walk away. I guess on some levels, I’m still an avoider when it comes to matters of the heart. I planned my second dive accordingly so that an extreme high would follow what I knew would be one of the lowest lows of the trip. So I ran away from the goodbye and changed into my shorty wetsuit. When I surfaced, feeling that same high as the day before, the lightness in my head was attributed to more than just excitement. I was feeling slightly nauseous. At first, I worried I’d had bad air, but the truth was that I knew too well that feeling in my head and the heat rushing through my body. I was hungover. And diving hungover is not recommended. I decided to head back to the hostel and have a nap, since I didn’t have anyone to meet for galavanting around the island, and it was pouring anyway. As I laid down on my bunk in the empty four-bed dorm, the door opened and in walked one of the girls who worked at the front desk of the hostel. You’re getting a roommate. It could have been perfect timing, my family had just left and I was alone again. It couldn’t be a bad thing, right? When he came in a few minutes later, he introduced himself and promptly took himself outside to smoke a cigarette. All travellers smoke, so I didn’t judge. We got to talking, about where we’d travelled to and what we were doing in Honduras. For a while, it was a fine enough conversation, he’d been travelling around SE Asia and lived in Singapore…

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Honduras: Searching for Nemo.

It was always just one of those things I wasn’t. But when I saw that first cuttlefish; watched it spread its tentacles and change colours from white to brown and back again as it moved effortlessly through the Sydney Harbour, I knew I’d been missing something. I knew a lot of SCUBA enthusiasts, but I just wasn’t one of them. I’m not quite sure why it never crossed my mind considering my love of the ocean; the fact that all it took was one deep dive under Bondi’s rolling waves to relax me. To be honest, that trip was never a part of my plan for 2015. I was planning to go to Europe with Seamus and Elaine for a month. I had just started looking into getting the time off when my brother mentioned that he was going to be in Honduras for a wedding around the same time. We were texting every day, exploring the possibilities. That was when James told me that they were going to Roatán, so I googled it. What I found were pure white sands, turquoise waters and reviews of some of the best diving in the world. Do you want to get certified to dive? James did, but juggling one-year-old twins didn’t exactly lend itself time to getting pre-certified in Seattle and we wouldn’t have the time to do it all on Roatán. So, I would go it alone but, I would be adding diving to the long list of hobbies I’d collected through the past couple of years. It started on a cold winter’s day in Sydney. In the early hours with the heat blasting, we drove through Sydney to the Victoria Park pool where we waited as long as we possibly could to change into our swimmers and brace our sun-loving skin against the cold winter air. That first lesson was all about overcoming that weird and completely understandable anxiety of doing something as unnatural as breathing underwater. But the worst part of the day was having to go to the toilet in the middle of the lesson and peeling the saturated wetsuit off only to squeeze it back on, wet and cold. That day ended in utter exhaustion, we all sat silently staring out the window of the truck as we drove back to Bondi. Annie.  My instructor broke the silence. Make sure you continue diving, you’re a natural.  I…

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Honduras: Just don’t leave the hotel alone.

How long are you staying for?  7 days.  The immigration agent froze and looked up from my passport. Wow, really? But that was all he said. He never elaborated on his reaction, which I can only assume as surprise. I guess most people don’t stay, at least not in Tegucigalpa. Landing in Tegus was not unlike my very memorable landing in Queenstown less than a year before. The biggest difference was that rather than a play-by-play of the pilot’s actions and decisions, there was just utter silence. I assumed it couldn’t possibly be an issue if the pilot and flight crew didn’t have anything to say about it. Only after I cleared customs and was standing outside arrivals that I remembered my brother telling me that Tegus was one of the most dangerous airports in the world to fly into. Selective memory. When I did see my brother and sister-in-law finally come out of arrivals after what felt like ages, it was a little bit like shock; seeing them for the first time in a year, and for the first time away from my niece and nephew since they’d been born. The first thing Ashley asked for was an iced coffee and it felt nice allowing myself to take comfort in her familiarity of this place that I wasn’t so sure about. We loaded into a minibus and were off to our fancy hotel in Tegus. I tried not to think about the expense, I tried not to fear too much for my travel budget after only one week. But Ashley let me in on a little piece of wisdom: in Tegus you either pay, or you sleep in fear of your life. So, I shut up. Oh, and don’t leave the hotel alone.  The next two days were packed with wedding activities. It was a reunion for James and Ashley as they were reunited for the first time with the other volunteers who’d worked at Montaña de Luz alongside them two years ago. It was fun, it was busy and I was so grateful to be a part of it, to be welcomed with open arms into a ceremony at which I knew only two people. But it was also about this time that my German friend went off the radar as he ventured into the depths of the Guatemalan jungle for a few days. He’d been my most constant point of contact since…

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