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  • Writer's pictureClaire Gilbert

Honduras, gratitude, and a capuchin monkey.

Dive gear, groceries, and everything I need for a month in Central America!

I have noticed, in the past few years of my life, that I’m particularly susceptible to moments of immense gratitude. Sometimes it just hits me, how fortunate I am. I feel it tingle every inch of my skin. Flowing down from the top of my head, ebbing through my arms to my fingertips, rolling down my legs to tickle my toes. I sit back in my seat, close my eyes, and just appreciate the sensation. I’m on a plane about to depart the regional airport of my hometown. I’m headed to the island of Roatan, Honduras to meet some friends for a few days. Then I’ll hop on a ferry to an even smaller island nearby, called Utila. There, I will spend a month or so practicing and improving my diving instruction. I can’t tell you that I’ll have much money to my name when I return. I see this as a good sign. Every time I’ve been in this type of situation I’ve grown and learned so much from the experience. I expect I’ll find another piece of myself on this trip. I’m fairly certain there are pieces of me scattered all over the world. It’s up to me to go find them.

Ahhhhh, the tuk tuk’s! They’re lined up to greet me, and many others, as we disembark the Utila Dream ferry. If you’re unaware, a tuk tuk is like a motorised tricycle, with a backseat and very little room for your luggage. I’ve missed this small island’s quaint lifestyle. No cars or trucks to be found here. Just tuk tuks, golf carts, and bicycles. I usually walk everywhere, however there’s no way I’m walking with my large backpack, dive gear, and groceries! Three American dollars gets me a ride to my apartment and help carrying my bags.

My room is simple, but fairly spacious. A twin bed next to some shelves to put my clothes. A very aged window air conditioning unit, shoved into a square hole someone just carved out of the wall. There is no need to turn on the lights with two large windows overlooking a small desk. The kitchen includes a stove, sink, fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and a blender. The only door inside my room, besides the entrance, is to the bathroom. I’m pleased to see a large shower and lots of shelves next to the sink and toilet. This place has everything I need! If only I could get the electricity to work.

““Holy shit!” is likely not the worst language the Capuchin monkey just two feet in front of me has heard.”

I’ve ventured out into the courtyard to find better WiFi connection. My parents would probably appreciate a message from me to reassure them that I’m alive. I look up after a few minutes on my phone and nearly fall off my chair. “Holy shit!” is likely not the worst language the Capuchin monkey just two feet in front of me has heard. Monkeys are not native here, so this is definitely not normal. It looks sad, and really freaked out. After a few long seconds of nervous eye contact, it jumps onto the table next to me and starts to inspect a wine bottle filled with water and a flower. I back away slowly. Getting bitten by a monkey would really suck, especially on a remote island with limited medical care. It get’s bored and wanders off after a few minutes. Later, I find out that the owner of the property also owns this monkey. Her name is Marcella, and she usually resides in a large enclosure. The next day I see two guys with a lasso trying to catch her. To them I say, good luck with that!

Now that I’m all settled in, my stomach reminds me that I need groceries! I also need to go pay for electricity. I empty my backpack, grab some cash, and head to the only place to get them. Bush’s is the closest thing to a grocery store on the island. If you can’t find what you need there, you won’t find it on the island. They don’t have a large selection and only restock once a week. Depending on supply and demand, you often have to learn to improvise with whats available. I brought rice from the mainland so I think I can throw something decent together with some chicken and beans. I grab a few other necessities and pay the nice lady at the front. A short walk from Bush’s, is the electric company. I always love coming here because it’s the only place around that is air-conditioned like a store in the US. I walk in, hand the reception $25, and wait for my receipt. On the receipt is a 20 digit code that I must plug into my electricity box in my apartment. This is the only way to get electricity here.

On my walk back I run into a familiar face. My instructor from last year is riding her bike home and yells my name. I run up to her and am rewarded with a big long hug and a “welcome home.” B, as her friends call her, was extremely strict during my course. She was the distributor of tough love. I learned so much from her, and hope to again during my month here. I remember after passing my exams she was the first to congratulate us and join in the drinks and celebration that night. Just like that, I was no longer her student, I was her peer. It will be a long time before I get her level of experience and knowledge though! She catches me up on all the changes since I’ve been gone and gives me a few pointers, as only she could. Then decides, since we’re so close to the dive shop, she can’t wait until tomorrow to give me a brief idea of what we’ll be up to the next few days. She starts to get carried away and I have to push her out of the dive shop. It’s her only day off and she can’t help but work! We part ways with a promise to catch up over drinks. Just like that, the “welcome home” sinks in and I really feel it. One month is going to go by too fast.

Until next time!

XOXO Claire Gilbert

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