True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
There are a number of people in the world that can relate to this true happiness statement. The folks that have found themselves on this tiny off the mainland of Honduras called Utila, can relate. Before we arrived I was not exactly sure where it was, but that is how we roll.
Catherine and I are not the types that buy books on how to best tour an area. I really don’t do much research on the internet either. We just arrive and let our feet do the touring. We will hit the street and somedays turn left and other days turn right as we walk or run around where we are right now.
To get here, first, we had to fly to Roatan Honduras which is much bigger than where we are. Our friend, Jen lives here now and arranged the small plane ride from Roatan to Utila on Island Air Honduras. She use to work for Marathon Tours and Travel and we have gone on several trips with her in the past.
She typifies someone that is enjoying the present on her private island where everyone knows her name. The folks here are very diverse. You have the local Utilian’s with their thick, somewhat Irish/British accent. Others transplanted from the mainland speaking Spanish freely and then the numerous tourist/expats that are here to escape the rat race or frequent the 13 dive shops located here. They are all very laid back, happy, friendly and accommodating.
We are staying in the Birds Nest, as listed on Airbnb. It is perfect for our needs as we fall asleep to the water lapping at the shore and the sounds of local music and laughter in the distance. The seagulls/pelicans taking off from the roof awakes you unless the rain hitting the roof does not do so beforehand. It is rainy season here, but that fact really does not stop anyone including us from our daily activities.
The sunrises and sunsets from the 360-degree deck are spectacular and the Landlord, Fiona was very attentive. We could not have asked for better accommodations and being invited to her private dinner birthday party by the water was icing on top of the cake. I was pretty fortunate that this place was available since it is in high demand.
Catherine is happy as a clam since Fiona’s dog, Dusty, comes up to our deck daily so she can get her doggie fix. Dogs here are also numerous and not aggressive at all. You rarely even hear any barking which is out of the ordinary.
We have had some extraordinary meals which for us is saying a lot since we eat out all the time. Looking at them from the street you are somewhat uneasy as to what to expect but we have not once been disappointed. At the last restaurant they were cutting up the fresh catch of the day and when I ordered the whole fish the man doing the gutting held up two to ask which one I wanted for my meal.
View from our deck with the Mainland of Honduras on the Horizon
A must see area, while here, is Neptunes at Coral Beach Village. A free water taxi is provided to a secluded stretch of beach that can only be accessed by boat. There are a rocky beach and a dock for those that have come to enjoy the sun. A couple of hammocks tied to trees with great food and drinks to enjoy. Trip Advisor lists their grill and bar number one on the island and we enjoyed both.
Catherine and I went for a long walk while there, and a mile down from paradise was an area where all the plastics have washed up on the shore. I understand, some that live here, had a day-long campaign where hundreds of pounds of trash were bagged up, sometime last year. It was sad to see but this is a worldwide problem.
Very appropriate since we have been to most of the places on this sign
After the short murky ride back we walked back to a beachfront bar, Relapse, where once again we witnessed a spectacular sunset. Catherine and I have seen plenty of them during our travels but will say that I enjoy the sunrise even more. I think they remind me of the days when we would go for the early morning runs over the years.
We were able to get in some great runs during our stay here along the narrow streets as the Tuk Tuks, golf carts and motorbikes manage to dodge us along the way. The numerous speed bumps do slow them down somewhat and very few cars here but the traffic is constant. Most people walk the streets with the vehicles coming from behind but I can’t seem to bring myself to adjust to that traffic pattern. I want to see the eyes of the person that might run me down.
Yes, I did say run. My knee has a new contraption to keep it from killing me with each step. It is called the X-Trap Dual Strap Knee Support. It straps above and below the kneecap to keep it on track and so far so go. Taking my morning blood pressure meds after I run has helped a lot. Our next race is in March so that should give me the time to getting my stamina back to where it used to be.
It always amazes me how out of shape one can get when taking time off to recover from an injury. Our last half marathon was less than 2 months ago in Queenstown but in this heat, I feel like I have never run one before. Hopefully, my knee and the rest of my old body will cooperate so I can run a half marathon in Jerusalem two months from now and in Cypress a week later.
Just like many other places in the world you have to leave this piece of paradise every 3 months. Some here, came to visit and just have not left with any plan in hand. Others come and go every 3 months or so. The penalty must be paid in cash while others are looking at residency down the road.
The options are to get hired by a local company. That is the route Jen is working on. The retired expats only have to show $1500 per month retirement income. You could also marry a local as a way to stay.
As Catherine and I run all over the world we are always looking for someplace for us to settle down. This is not our cup of tea even though this little gem has a lot to offer. Not looking for a mint on my pillow and happy with the hot water, reliable internet, cable and plenty of sunshine.
Hopefully, we will know it when we see it but until then it will be soon to move on to our next adventure. Besides what I mentioned above, great health care is a must for me. It was also a bit unnerving when an earthquake was reported nearby the other night. No tremors where we were but for about two hours there was a tsunami warning for our Island. I stayed awake to see if the lapping and calming waves were to change to a tidal wave of water.
I have actually been to Honduras before some 25 years ago when I came to San Pedro Sula to build a church. From what I hear about the current unrest on the mainland not much has changed. None of that over here.
Going back to the true happiness title it also makes me think of a few other groups that can relate first hand. Folks like Catherine and I that both have health issues and at the same time have lost friends and family over the years way too early. We still put on our seat belts and don’t drink and drive but must admit I really don’t think much about the future.
I have trips planned this year and the next but we mostly take it one day at a time. We both take our present health situations seriously but don’t obsess over them either. I just got word of a fellow retired UPS pilot, Bill Parker, that started at UPS around the same as me that just lost his life. He was a devoted Christian man that was always working on charity projects around the world during his free time.
Bill Parker was part of the team that traveled into disaster areas to provide water training after the devastating rains, earthquake & floods in our world. He was always willing to step up to the plate when there was a call or need. WaterStep mourns a friend tonite and so has his world. The people of Haiti, Nepal, India, Costa Rica & Puerto Rico thank you.
Information like this makes it clear that even the best are taken way to early. I am sure another group of folks that don’t focus on the anxious dependence of the future are those that have been given a time horizon for when they to will leave this earth. Not sure how I would personally handle if ever given the news that I only had 6 months to live.
Another reason we came here was to get over my 2nd fear. That being scuba diving. I tackled my other fear of being around wild animals back in July 2016. We went to Africa to run a half marathon and while there did all the tourist things including several Safaris and staying in tents at Governers Camp. You can read about our adventure there, here.
While there I was assured that these animals do not eat jeeps or tents so if I stay inside them I would be okay. Unfortunately the same is not true while scuba diving. That fact did not help my unfounded fear of being getting eaten by a shark.
Most tourists come here for the scuba diving and so it only seemed reasonable that I face and concur my fear here. Bottom line impression is that I am one and done. It was very unnerving. I, like all others, had to do some simple underwater skills. Did not much like the one where you take out and put your regulator back in your mouth. The fear of gasping in the Caribbean sea was overwhelming.
When asked how did it go, hand to neck indicating, ONE AND DONE
I can see why others love it so much. My instructor, who started diving at the age of 5, did a great job at Parrots Dive Shop. It is a good form of exercise but I would rather just put my running shoes on and either go left or right. Also, I don’t much like signing my life away just to see some beautiful things at the bottom of the sea.
After they dropped me off the rest went out for a second dive and the description of what they saw would have made me pee my wetsuit. Speaking of which, with the tank, weights and all I was surprised how hard it was to go down. My instructor had to push down on my tank. It might have had something to do with the fact that I really did not want to do any closer to the wildlife, both alive and dead.
Now, we are off to frigid Atlanta for 3 nights then off to St. Kitts to visit my sister and sister in law for a week. They have a second home there and endless request from friends and relatives to visit. We have been to the island several times and kicked off our retirement 3 years ago there.
Utila is not for everyone but is for anyone, especially if you are the type that can easily recognize true happiness. The return flight was without incident. A storm is headed their way and it was a bit bumpy at 1000 feet. From that vantage point, you could see why the swells shutdown the ferry today.
We all, in our own way, try to find true happiness. Some have done so already and others will search all their lives. Still, others may never be successful. Catherine and I are enjoying our way of life while trying not to obsess or be anxious about the future.