I do have at least one more good story from Roatan. The week after the IDC I was in a bit of a funk trying to figure out what to do with myself. My entire life up until that point had been planned out until some point in the future. College after high school, divemaster insternship after college, IDC after divemaster, but suddenly the IE was over and that was the end of my plans. My entire future suddenly became a blank slate. And with all the nonsense that I already alluded to that was going on, I finally decided it was time to leave. So that last week I didn't go into the dive shop for various reasons, but just bummed around the intern house. You can imagine that would get pretty old after a while, living on an island with unreliable electricity. Roatan is the sort of place you go to dive, and diving will entertain you for an eternity if you're like me, but once you cut out diving, the list of things to do is pretty much limited to sunbathing. I realize some people get pretty into sunbathing but it just didn't cut it for me after a couple days. So I did what any any person who can't stay out of the water would do, and grabbed my fins and snorkel and went to explore the reef.

We lived in this little area called Brick Bay, it was nothing but houses and a resort called Natale's, which was becoming more and more of a ghost town every week. By the time I left they had a single guy running the entire place for just a couple hours a day. So with no dive shops in the immediate area, I swam out to find a spectacular, untouched, pristine reef. Everything was alive and thriving. I snorkeled around for ages in awe of what a goldmine this place was, and no one even knew. I got it into my head to find a lionfish and before long, there he was, and a giant at that, just hovering inches above a patch of coral twenty feet below me in that lazy lionfish manner. I didn't have my spear with me but a plan was already formulating in my head to come back the following day.

The next day I gathered up my spear, a mesh bag, and scissors, and headed back down the winding dirt road to the beach. Natale's beach has a large, pool area that is blocked off from the rest of the ocean by a wide wall of coral. During low tide the water level drops below this wall of coral blocking off water flow to the pool entirely, allowing it to heat up to bathtub temperatures in the heat of the midday sun. To get to the reef you have to swim across the pool, stumble over the wall of coral and try not to get thrown down by breaking waves, and finally swim just far enough past the break. Before too long I found my lionfish, sitting lazily exactly where I had found him the day before, roughly twenty feet below me. Now I've never quite gotten the hang of free diving; I just can't for the life of me hold my breath for any substantial amount of time. I dove down below the surface, hooked my thumb through the surgical tubing while pulling my spear back, aimed, and fired. I got the little sucker first try, but lionfish, especially the ones that size, are extremely powerful and can wiggle their way off a spear point easy peasy unless you manage to pin them and really thrust the spear in. I did not have the breath to do this and so let him wiggle off while I dashed to the surface for air. After a breath I looked back down and saw that my prize had swam into a lionfish-sized cavern in the coral and was waiting there until I left. Except that wasn't going to happen.

I spent the next half hour taking gulps of air and diving down, trying to egg the guy out of his hiding place. He was at a perfect angle so as not to be reached by my spear, and just sat there smugly. It was half an hour before he made the fatal decision to settle into a more comfortable position and instead ended up on the end of my spear. Sorry buddy. I swam to the surface and immediately set about de-spining and de-heading the thing. I stuffed the headless fish into my mesh bag and continued on my snorkel. A hundred meters farther out I found a porcupine fish, a bloated funny looking species that always seem to be smiling. We played a friendly game of hide and seek for a while and then I swam on and encountered a green moray eel. Despite that movie, "The Deep," morays only look threatening. They don't actually go up and bite divers heads off. Sure they will get a little aggressive if you have food, but they typically just keep their distance. Well I had food on me and so Mr. Moray decided to follow me around in hopes that I would be so kind as to share. I had been diving enough by this point to know that I was in no danger, but morays have always freaked me out, and I was in no mood to play tag with a creature that looks like a bloated pukey green snake with a mouth full of razor sharp incisors.  I blame Flotsam and Jetsam from "The Little Mermaid."

I brought my catch back to the intern house only to realize that I had never cleaned or filleted a fish before in my life, not to mention a poisonous lionfish. We always brought our catch back to the chefs at the resort's restaurant and they would bring back ceviche. Well luckly I live in a world in which such things as Google and Youtube exist, and so got online and found myself a nice how-to video. Half an hour later and I was eating a delicious lunch of fish fingers.