Last night I had that most masculine of pleasures: watching other men work, with my arms folded, occasionally chipping in with some comment or other. Kraig and his wife, Barbara had locked their key in the room, and, unfortunately for them, it was the only room without a spare key. So I got to stand there on the verandah, smoking a fag, as two men tried to pick the lock, then take off the hinges. Neither of which worked. So Ian resorted to the tried and tested way to get in somewhere: a crowbar.
It was a fun end to a fun day for me, and probably a frustrating end to a fun day for Kraig and Barbara. We all did the same activity, along with the other American couple, Walt and Jenny: snorkeling.
We saw a bunch of dolphins, and tried to take photos of the dolphins. I took about 20 photos of flat sea, and got just one semi-decent photo of a fin.
And we saw what I believe was called a flying fish: this little fella who skimmed along the surface like one of those super-duper speedboats trying to break the speed record.
Half an hour on the boat and we came to the Port Honduras Marine Reserve station thingy on Abalone Caye. The whole area of cayes and sea just north of Punta Gorda is a protected area, and at this station, with their big scary dogs, is where three chaps work (two weeks on, one week off) making sure there are no fishermen or coral poachers doing naughty business. He showed us around, told us what sort of stuff they did, and then we paid him for the visit, which did rather seem like simply an excuse to get tourists to donate $10 to the ongoing project.
I managed to get a good photo of Kraig’s rainbow ponytail while I was there, too.
Then it was on to Snake Cayes, two beautiful tiny islands (West and East Snake). The first thing we saw as we approached West Snake Caye was a bunch of pelicans. Some floating around, others flying and then diving to catch fish.
We slowly motored around to the east side of the caye, and put our masks, snorkels and flippers on, and away we went. It was my first time doing this, and I panicked. Water was flooding into my mouth, I was snorting up my nose. I felt shit. I came up for a bit of air, gasping and spitting, and tried again. This time it was even worse. I tried a third time and I could feel the panic kicking in the moment my face went under the surface. I swam back to the boat. Scully, our tour guide, talked me through things a bit more and got me relaxed. There was a moment, though, where I seriously considered giving up, and it was only the thought of sitting in the boat watching the others snorkeling for the next couple of hours that got me back in the water.
This time I remembered to breath out as I went under water. The first thing I saw was a spotted eagle ray. It was if the sea was telling me that snorkeling – not sitting on the boat – is what I should be doing. It was a magnificent creature, probably about a metre and a half across, and only a few feet away from me. A few minor adjustments along the way, the occasional gasp for air, but I was fine; letting the movement of the sea move me around, with the odd flip of my flippers and I was seeing tons of beautiful fish and coral.
After an hour or so, we came around the the beach on the west side of the caye and stopped for some lunch. A traditional Belizean lunch of Tuna sandwiches, Coke, Pringles and an Oh Henry! bar.
Some hermit crabs were also eating lunch, a whole bunch of them, cunningly disguised as a bunch of shells in the photos, sucking down a fallen coconut.
Back on the boat, we pootered over to East Snake Caye for some more snorkeling. This time the water was a tiny bit rougher (it tends to get like that here the later in the day it gets), but a whole lot clearer under the water. And Kraig lent me his fancy under water digital camera to take some snaps. I should now admit that I’m not sure if any of these photos are mine, or whether they are all Kraig’s, but he said it was okay to use them.
It was a stunning day. And Walt found a huge pink shell on East Snake Caye when we stopped there briefly to catch our breath before coming home.
It was still only about 4pm when we got back to the cottages, so after we all relaxed for an hour or two, we all gathered at the bar and had a jolly old evening. One of those lovely things where we’d all had a shared experience and enjoyed each other’s company over food and drinks.