Arrival to Utila, Honduras marked the end of traveling and the beginning of five whole days in one spot! Utila is a budget island, full of backpackers and is known for offering some of the cheapest PADI diving courses in the world. It’s also known for being home to many whale sharks during certain months of the year.
Francesco and I checked into Cooper’s Inn, a budget place that has bare bones accommodations (bed, fan, shared bath for $6/person) but was clean and secure. There was definitely a relaxed feel and the owner went out of her way to make us feel welcome.
The guidebook warned us in advance about tension between the locals and the tourists/expats that have invaded the country and turned it from a fishing community to a tourist destination. There is also a lot of worry about the environmental impact of tourism and all but one of the dive schools and many restaurants are foreign-run. Two years ago, rental scooters and ATVs made their island debut. There is one main road along the waterfront and walking it leaves you constantly in fear of being run over by a tourist who couldn’t be bothered to do a 10 minute walk to their destination. It definitely made things a bit more stressful than I was expecting!
I did notice the tension and animosity on the island, and so did many other travelers that I talked to while there. I’m used to the occasional catcall or comment and even though I never felt unsafe, this attention had a completely different feel. I had some experiences where people where rude and outright vulgar and was definitely thankful that Francesco was by my side walking around, especially late at night.
Luckily, nothing too serious happened and the majority of our time in Utila was wonderful! We met some great people, enjoyed the sun, got some great running in and Francesco even got a rad new haircut.