Wow. It’s been far too long since I last updated, huh? I would say I’ve just been super busy, but I feel like that’s only half true. Although I have been doing quite a bit of work on my DMT course, I’ve also been having too much fun. Good thing that’s not possible. When I last blogged, I had just decided to stay for DM training and was beginning to get into the swing of things here. Since then, I have really settled in and made this my home. It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been gone for over a month (so crazy). At that point, I realized that I kind of live here now. Perhaps it’s not how I thought things would go on my first stop, but I love it. These days, I think in Lempiras, rather than Dollars, and I now think believe that $25 is a shit ton of money. It is here. I can eat lunch (Baleadas or Pastelitos) for 20-30 lps, which is between $1 and $1.50. I am officially cheap…or just officially a backpacker. I actually spent $245 lps on dinner tonight and I’m still mad about it. I finally moved into a private room a week ago and it’s been so nice. My stuff is everywhere and I no longer have to share a bathroom. This is luxury in the backpacking world, friends. If I lived in this place back home, you would all ask me if I was living in a crack den. Down here though? It’s an upgrade.
The state of my room and things currently. Or every day. There’s no need for organization here. Suits me nicely, don’t ya think?We can call this my dresser, I suppose. The makeup I don’t ever wear (mascara twice a week is about it) and the jewelry that I wear daily is all kept here. I must say, I wish I would have brought more of it, actually. It’s the only thing that keeps me feeling like I didn’t “just wear this outfit yesterday.”
Since I moved in, I’ve felt so settled here in Utila. It was almost instant. It’s a good kind of settled though. I have this new life filled with new people and even a few new routines. Yep, I said the R-word. Depending on when I wake up in the morning, I go get a gallon of water at the tienda we call “7-11,” grab a coffee at the (amazing) joint next door, do my morning message catch up on Facebook, then head back over to the shop to study or to just hang out. I should probably admit that this is not true for the past several days or so, however. Holy Emily, friends. I’m not sure when I decided to party like it was my 21st again, but it happened. I don’t think I’ve been out that much since I first moved to Athens for college. Not only that, but I’ve been up late too. No really, I have. Me, the girl who goes home from bars by 11PM back home…has gone missing. I saw the sun come up the other day for crying out loud. Why? No good reason. Didn’t need one. On the other hand, if I’m on the morning boat, I reel it in and put on my responsible face. I have to be on the dock by 6:15AM ready to go. As a DMT or any other staff member, you’re required to be there early to setup gear for the divers, who arrive at 7. I have no idea what’s in the air here, but somehow, we make it happen. We put the lack of sleep and hangovers to the side, and morph into professionals. Well, for the most part. I never could have pulled this off back home. I would have been fired from Moxie within weeks. Something about this island just keeps you going.
If I’m not on a boat and I’m not studying for a test, then I’m doing one of the other 900 things that are required to become a DM. I have a checklist sectioned into several different categories, which I live by. I look at it every day, along with the dive board (more like a schedule) and figure out what I can get checked off the quickest. I have to assist X amount of courses, properly demonstrate 24 skills, swim a timed 400M, snorkel a timed 800M, float for 15 minutes, create an emergency action plan, map a dive site, lead a dive…the list goes on. As of now, I’ve completed the first test and only have one to go. It’s heavy on the physics though, so this should be interesting. I was also evaluated on 20 of the skills, and somehow passed. I am currently assisting an Open Water course, so there’s another check. While all of this is going on, I’m also racking up dives. I have to hit 60 and I should be at 40 by Friday – that is, if my ears cooperate. The #1 problem here for people trying to complete their DM is ear infections that keep them out of the water for days at a time. It’s incredibly frustrating when everything you’ve got left to do is actually in the water. I’m diving for the first time in 4 days tomorrow for this exact reason. Oh, then there was the whole jellyfish thing. Apparently, I don’t react well to them. About 2 days after being at a site that was infested with these things, my legs broke out in an itch and an irritation that I cannot put into words. It was almost like having the chicken pox. It was horrible. I went to the Spanish-speaking “Nurse,” and gathered that I was having a reaction to some sort of mosquito on the island. I spent 375 lps (about $18) on “meds” and nothing happened. Later that evening, I realized that I was affected everywhere that my rashie didn’t cover. I remembered the jellies from a couple of days ago and thought I’d Google it. I was right. I was having a delayed reaction to them and a nurse on an island (as in, surrounded by water) couldn’t tell me that. A few days later, they’ve almost all disappeared. Clearly, I just react terribly to anything that bites or stings. If that’s my biggest problem down here though, I’ll take it! In order to prevent it from happening again, I will have to start wearing a full-length wetsuit. It’s not really an issue, other than the fact that I really enjoy not wearing a wetsuit at all. The water temperature is so perfect here, most people don’t need one. If it’s my only defense against those stinging bastards though, sign me up.
Me and the girls goofing off during a photo shoot (ish) last week. This is the universal “I’m Okay” sign in diving. Lounging on Captain D Josh, our dive boat. Lounging is kind of stretch here though, given the 90-degree heat and the fact that I’m wearing a rashie and fins. You get the point though.
So, that’s the latest from Utila. The course is a ton of work, but I think I’ve finally left the overwhelmed stage. I’m just “in it” right now. It keeps me focused and busy, but still allows for enough down time. Life is still absolutely fabulous. Although I miss SO many of you, I can honestly say that I don’t really miss “home” like I thought I would. I really love the fact that I don’t have a permanent address or any return date. I was so fearful of that and so many other things before I left, but those fears have just disappeared. For the past couple of years I’ve been preaching the whole “face your fears, you’ll surprise yourself” thing, and I must say- it’s been so rewarding doing it for myself. It’s kind of beautiful how that works out, isn’t it?
My next update should be coming from DM (or almost) DM Emily. Promise to update as soon as that happens. Once again, thank you for reading, commenting and (most of all) supporting. Tons of love from Utila! X