THE BIGGEST LIE on Utila is, apparently, "I'm leaving tomorrow" and, despite my aforementioned disdain for the island as a whole, it had a magnetic pull which was difficult to break free from. Not due to the place itself, rather the people I made friends with while there. Stefano, a tall, thoughtful Italian, had been the main man keeping me sane. We'd met on a boat out to a dive site on the south of the island; I always watch other divers kitting up, note their equipment choices, and hazard a guess as to their diving ability. You learn to do this as a working Divemaster. Stef was as good as I'd guessed, his diving effortless. I respect a good diver. Being 37, he was as exasperated as me about the average age of the single females we were surrounded by on Utila. I lost count of the number of times we moaned about this. But we got on with it. The Third Amigo was a mop-haired Glaswegian named Maxy. I'd assisted Juicy on the Open water, Advanced and Rescue Diver courses. Maxy had been on all three, and was a pretty good diver, too. I was obviously pleased he's decided to take his Instructor course elsewhere, after getting some more varied experience. But what I liked about being around Maxy was the Scots banter. Never short on a laugh with him, and I'd pass by his place on the way to the beach, always seduced by his first question of the day "Fancy a spliff, wee man?" That's my boy. Tempy had been the other in my core trio of mates. Intelligent, beautiful and generally good company, she made my time on that godforsaken patch of rock bearable. She took me into subterranean caves on the island one morning, lighting our way by candles as we got further inside. And then she made me swim in the black pools inside, bats whirling around our heads; despite my primal fear of the Cave Monster which was obviously lurking below the surface. I preferred our deserted beach on the north side that afternoon, if I'm honest. Call me chicken.
I'd tried to leave the day previous. Maxy and Stef had gone down the dock to say goodbye at 6am. Thankfully another friend of ours, a German named Thomas, had been leaving too. So their early start wasn't in vain. I packed that night, and drank a lot less than I did on my previous Last Night At Tree. Next morning I was up at the crack of dawn. I headed for the dock, and was halfway down the road when Maxy and Stef came walking towards me waving their hands at waist height. "No ferry....you missed it." I swore. Mainly as I'd have to carry my heavy pack back uphill; another night out with these boys was no bad thing. I looked at the local on the wall nearby and he shook his head "Gone. Tomorrow." Then the lads started laughing. I joined in, and we headed for the boat. I asked if they'd put the local to it, but they said he'd just joined in unprompted.
Reaching the boat, I was fighting back the tears; I was really going to miss these two. They'd made me a very amusing leaving card about our time on the island. I was touched. Stef pulled out a monster joint for breakfast. Stoned at 6.30am on a rough ferry crossing? Thanks, fellas. I'd asked Tempy not to come to the dock, as I hated goodbyes, and always got upset. But I was pleased to see her cycling down the jetty. It was the nicest send-off I've ever had. As the boat pulled away, I was biting my lip. But as we headed out to sea, I felt relief to be on the road again. It's always easy to get stuck somewhere, and harder to get going. If the island was mainly Spanish-speaking, and the diving a lot better, I'd likely still be there. But it was definitely time to go. Besides, we're going to meet up in Nicaragua to dive with hammerheads...so something more to look forward to there.