After my first experience of snorkeling a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to get back out and do it again as soon as possible. So yesterday I went on another trip to Snake Cayes with Bill and Robin.
I skipped the bit where the guide showed us around the Port Honduras Marine Reserve, and just sat on the jetty watching a stingray instead. When we’d motored out to the cayes, and the boat had slowed down, my snorkel, mask, and flippers were on, and I was away. There was no panic, no second thought, I was just in there and snorkeling straight away. I hardly came up about the surface of the water the whole time. A couple of days of rain had made the water a touch cloudier than last time, but I still had fun.
I swam about halfway around the island. I followed a couple of angel fish around for a while, as they swam around the coral. All the time, I had my head down, looking directly below me. Then I looked ahead of me. Then to the left, and the right. I’d drifted into the middle of a smack of moon jellyfish (yes, that – apparently – is the collective noun). At that moment, their beauty was the last thing on my mind. I was in a stingy minefield, and I knew not how I would escape unharmed. I had to move careful. There was no room to get up the power to dive beneath them to safety. I bobbed in the water and gingerly took off one flipper then the other. I put my hands into them and used them as gloves and paddles; sweeping aside the jellyfish. One came at me from the right; I turned my head and, using my snorkel like a bull’s horn, bashed him aside.
I was out of the frying pan, but just feet away from the fire. Jellyfish behind me, but a greater danger in front of me: a Portuguese Man o’ War. The momentum of swimming away from the jellyfish was throwing me right towards his long stingy tentacle thingies. I was done for. There was no way out. Well, there wouldn’t have been had the last couple of paragraphs been true.
What really happened was I looked up, saw the smack of jellyfish a few feet in front of me, slammed on the brakes, spun around and swam away, gulping for air. When I looked back behind me, I noticed that they weren’t jellyfish, rather a bunch of small, transparent pieces of plastic floating in the water. It was, though, a good thing that I turned around when I did, ’cause Robin, who was in the boat, said I was swimming right in the direction of a man o’ war, and it was only about 20 feet away. Fascinating creatures they may be, but I have no desire to be that close to one again.
I like to think, though, that the jellyfish and man o’ war part of this blog entry would be a good story in the adventures of “Kinkajou” Robinson: idiosyncratic tropical explorer, on yet another daring mission to tame the savages, battling through the flora and fauna of British Honduras for Queen and Country. All in day’s work, Your Majesty; and yes, I’d love a cup of tea.
We stopped on West Snake Caye for a bite to eat, and I watched a crab struggle with the waves lapping onto the beach, as he desperately held onto a fish with one claw, and tried to eat chunks of it with the other.
We then went and did some fishing of our own. This activity can be adding to going to a bullfight, seeing the Pacific Ocean, kayaking, snorkeling, cave-swimming, as another first for me. I’ve never particularly had any interest in fishing. We dropped anchor, and I was handed a rod with a tiny fish and a weight on the end. I was instructed to let the line out until it went slack, then turn the reel thingy a little, so that the bait was just a couple of inches off the seabed. And it wasn’t too long before I felt a tug on the line. Oooh, exciting! I reeled it in. It felt heavy. I kept on reeling, I felt the fish pulling, but eventually a snapper, only slightly bigger than my hand came flapping on the line out of the water. Our tour guide Armando unhooked it and threw it into a cooler to flap around for a few moments before it died. I felt guilty. But I did it again. All in all, I caught three snapper that were worth keeping; threw a couple back into the sea, caught an ugly catfish, and a couple of others that I forget the names of. Not once did I try getting the fish off the hook, though. That looked like a grim task. It was hard enough for me to push the hook through the eyes of the bait fish.
Armando took us to see a little island that was for sale (US$40,000 for about a quarter of an acre), and then we returned to shore. Despite having some Mexican sun lotion with the number 80 on the front, I still got a bit burned. Must be factor 80 cooking oil, not sun cream.
In the evening, Bill, Robin and I went to a place called Emery’s for dinner. Never again will I complain about the service in cafes and restaurants in Berlin. Emery’s was just unbelievable. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion. It all began well enough – table, chairs, menus – but very rapidly tailed off. The waitress who brought us the menus when we initially sat down didn’t return for twenty five minutes. She serviced other tables, but she didn’t return to us. I could have laughed in her face when she finally came over and asked if we were ready to order. I think she was high on horse tranquilisers.
“I’ll have a cheese burger and fries, please.”
“No, beef burger. With cheese.”
“No, cheese. On a beef burger. And a Lighthouse beer, please.”
“You want a drink?”
“Yes, a Lighthouse beer.”
A further twenty minutes had passed before we got bored of spitting feathers and went up to the bar and got the drinks direct from the bar man. The food finally turned up, although I had to wait five minutes for her to bring me a knife and fork. Bland would be the charitable way to describe it. We finished up, decided against waiting for her to bring the bill, went up to the bar, paid, and for the first time in aeons, I left no tip.
Another fun-packed day was at an end. I read about two pages of Moby-Dick, then drifted off to sleep, imagining “Kinkajou” Robinson fighting a big whale. (Which, of course, isn’t true. It was just a more poetic ending that saying, “I brushed my teeth, itched my insect bites, and sweated and snored through ’til morning.)