The thing that I noticed about Utila that struck me as refreshing was the absence of the Culture of Safety. It sounds trivial, I know, but it’s a reminder that our national nannies have taken a lot of the fun out of life.
We flew from La Ceiba, Honduras to Utila on a 10-person, two-prop plane, a 15-minute trip that was smoother than our beaten-up plane was expected to arrive. There’s an airstrip on the island, sort of a half-paved, half gravel thing. Greeting us at the airport was the guy we rented our golf cart from (there are few cars/trucks on the island, and none for rent) and our travel agent. As we took the 10-minute drive through the heart of the island, that absence of safety takes hold: families of four, without helmets, often with babies, whizzing by on mopeds.
In America, this would get a person jailed or publicly beaten to death. In Utila, it’s so common you don’t even find it odd after a few minutes. The street is about a car-lane wide and is a comical artery through which walkers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, moped’r’s, four-wheelers, golf carts and tiny, three-wheeled taxis fly through, with no real sense of any rules of the road – somehow, it just works.
One thing we haven’t seen – neither a good or bad thing – is very many people like us: the tourists here are either much older or of the 20something backpacker-hippie-trustafarian types. There is an absence of fat people on Utila – while eating at the Bundu this morning, I commented that I may be the fattest person on the island. Also while eating at the Bundu on the outdoor deck, I watched at least a half-dozen 9/10 beauties walk by – there is an abundance of young, beautiful women of all hues on Utila.
Our house, which is on the eastern shore, is a two-story beauty with a rooftop deck. We have about 150 feet of white sandy beach, though the water itself would be impossible to navigate without water shoes – all rocks and coral. There’s an uninhabited island about 150 yards off our beach, and two of my fellow travelers have already walked out to it.
The first morning here I was up at 5 to watch the sun come up, and although I’ve seen the sun come up in some beautiful place around the world, I’ve never seen so beautiful a sunset as the one I saw from the beach that morning (check my Twitter feed on the right for plenty of pics of the same). Natural beauty has never been particularly inspiring to me, but I was awestruck by that vision.
We’ve been here 48 hours, and it already feels like it’s been a month. It took about an hour to get used to the rhythms, habits and minor customs on the island, and I can see myself moving here sooner rather than later. I’ve already been eyeing commercial and residential property for sale. The knock on Utila is that there’s not that much Culture – more of a place for hedonism than for enrichment. Call me shallow, but if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.