Sunjam and the Utila Crew
When I awoke from my nap, I discovered that only 3 types of people exist late into a rave:
1. Passed out
2. Cracked out
3. Straight up zombies
I looked around and saw dozens of people passed out in the sand. This part of the beach had apparently become a self-designated sleeping zone. I brushed the sand off my back and gathered my bearings. Approximately 50 feet to my left, past the vodka Redbull tent, stood the main stage. I felt the constant “THUMP THUMP THUMP” of the bass and like a fly attracted to light, made my way over to the writhing, sweaty mass of bodies.
The main stage at Sunjam featured a DJ, his entourage and several photographers. Behind was a projection screen with a constant light display which was choreographed to the music. Huge speakers flanked either side and a laser blasted blue and green beams. Every once in a while, a thick layer of fog would pour out from the fog machine, obscuring everything except for the music and lasers.
At this point of the night, the party had been going on for over 12 hours. I was one of the “passed out” and to find the latter two categories of people, I had to look no further than here. Many were in a drug-induced haze as cocaine, speed, meth, MDMA and god knows what else flowed freely from the numerous dealers working that night. Alcohol was, of course, in abundance as people mixed beer, vodka and Redbull freely. Many of the people were in their own little world, dancing wildly as if a demon had possessed them: the cracked out. Others stood there blankly, eyes glazed over, with no hint of frontal lobe activity: the zombies.
And there I stood, just having woken up, sober as a baby. I looked down at my watch: 3:30am. At least 2 more hours before the first boats start going back.
– – –
We got lucky and happened to choose one of the faster boats. As we blazed down the coast of Utila, the warm breeze and changing scenery took my mind off of my current ordeal.
We reached the island 25 minutes later. It was nearly 6pm and the sun was beginning to set. Coconut trees and little shrubs dotted the normally uninhabited island. The organizers had set up fences along the northern tip where all the boats were pulling in. Straight ahead was the stage and beyond that, the drink stands. There was also a Redbull tent and a BBQ area located further inland. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures because we weren’t allowed to bring anything (not that you would want to). But the official event photos sum it up pretty well.
The island was quite small and you could walk end-to-end in about 15 minutes. Jonas and I surveyed the scene and went for a swim. This was going to be a marathon, not a sprint. We had 12 hours to go and to start drinking immediately would’ve spelled our doom. Not to mention, Montezuma was still enacting his anger upon me so I was more concerned with staying hydrated than getting wasted.
We spent the next couple of hours wandering around, dancing and swimming. My stomach was beginning to calm down and the couple of beers I drank seemed to hold everything together. The music was good and everyone was having a great time. Things were going well. And things would get better as I met the people who would come to form our Utila crew.
– – –
Traveling solo has its pluses and minuses and one of the biggest advantages is all the people you meet. I’ve never had an extended solo trip where I didn’t travel with a group of people for several days/weeks. Honduras was no exception. At Sunjam, I met Josh, Ash and Maddy who along with Lance and Tyson (whom we would meet later) would form our crew of backpackers for the coming days.
Sometimes you get lucky and everyone in the group clicks. This happened to be our case. Each person added his personality to our group:
- Josh, the blonde haired Australian, split for a few days from his girlfriend who was taking a Spanish class in Copan. Unleashed from the chains of his relationship, Josh’s true “I’m going to drink my face off” Aussie nature reared its head, especially at Sunjam where there were marked discrepancies between what he thought happened and what really happened.
- Ash and Maddy were a couple of recently graduated Brits who were traveling through Central America. You might as well called them “Dumb and Dumber” as neither spoke a lick of Spanish and yet somehow managed to stumble their way through the entire region. Maddy also had an incredible fascination with his “cock and bollocks” and made sure to let the world know every chance he got. These two, by the grace of god, also somehow managed to get PADI Open Water certified even though they resembled more like drowning cats rather than 22 year old men when they got in the water.
- Tyson, an Australian, was traveling with his sister Kara. The entire time, him and Maddy would constantly try to outdo each other with descriptions of increasingly disgusting, crude and vile hypothetical acts they would inflict upon each other. It started with “Don’t use that shower because I had a wank” and from there, spun out of control; a classic who can gross-out the other person first battle. Later, Tyson would get props from our group as he took “Rumble in the Jungle” to a whole new level.
- Lance, another Australian, would drink a thimble of alcohol and be nearly blacked out. But that’s when he was at his best. He would silently watch, with a Chershire grin, Maddy and Tyson banter. Then during a lull in the conversation, he would drop something so out-of-this-world disgusting that we would all turn our heads and collectively say, “WHAT. THE. FUCK. MAN!?!” Lance was also the leading proponent of his Utila feral children theory.
Every crew has a unique vibe. With six dudes from Australia, England and America, ours was testosterone-filled, vulgar, crude and chauvinistic. It wasn’t pretty but it was damn fun. But to be fair, we were never the type to start arguments or fights like some groups. Our banter was mostly directed towards each other and rarely did we cause a scene with other people.
– – –
Jonas had gone to meet several other people so I hung out with Josh, Ash, Maddy and another Australian named Marcus. The five of us alternated from periods of chilling out, fruitlessly hitting on girls, dancing and getting lost. The music was a mix of trance and techno but after the 8th hour or so, it started getting pretty repetitive. Being sober, I got tired and took a couple of naps throughout the night.
After my 3:30 nap, I woke up, walked around to see where everyone was and jumped in the dance pit for a bit. I got sleepy again and decided to take another nap. The sun was out by the time I woke up. It was 5:30. Time to get back to Utila. My body was covered in sand, my shirt wrecked from sweat, salt and sand. A proper shower and sleep sounded pretty damn good.
We got on a boat and headed east. The rising sun cast its warming rays over the gentle rolling waves. I looked back and heard the music grow fainter and fainter.
Sunjam 2010, farewell and goodbye.