Paget's Belize Journal


The Preliminary Trip

- It Begins
- First days
- A tourist trip
- Flying, sand crabs
- San Pedro 1
- San Pedro 2
- Braids, snakes, dogs
- Leaving Dangriga

The Actual Stay

- Help for library
- Books; departure
- Arrival; weather
- Sensations, housing
- Security, more housing
- More security, snorkeling
- Dock activities
- Day-to-day life 1
- Day-to-day life 2
- The Quadrille
- The apartment!
- Cleaning and culture
- Hurricane Irene
- Too much reality
- Hopkins Village 1
- Hopkins Village 2
- Weather
- Minimum wage
- Transportation
- Food Experiments
- The Brits; furniture
- Meeting and greeting
- Night noise, Settlement Day
- Dragonflies!
- More noise
- A good 19th
- Wrapping up the 19th
- Traveling to Mexico
- Thanksgiving in Mexico
- Cockscomb Basin
- A Belizean week-end
- Tobacco Caye
- Is it really Christmas?
- This is the life
- Christmas wishes
- Headwear
- Christmas Experiences
- Lottery
- Caye Caulker haircut
- Caye Caulker 2
- Geckos
- Red Bank
- The last few days


Oct 4, 1999 Security and SNORKELING!

Just a short note to finish the security topic for now and then on to the good stuff. The point of all this security is not physical protection but possessions protection. As I was told, "The Garifuna, they like to thieve a bit, but they will never hurt you, no."

I mean, if you left something behind, it means you're not using it, right? So you just try not to make it easy for them. Another theory, though, is to not worry too much about it, don't bother with the security bars and don't have anything worth too much. I think this is the approach I will take. That and try to get into a neighborhood where there's a nice grandma watching over things.

The good stuff is this. I went snorkeling for the very first time yesterday and it was amazing! For a middle-aged, not-very-athletic and a bit overweight non-swimmer and ex-smoker, this is more of an accomplishment than you might think. The day went like this. There was a boat scheduled to go to "the caye" as soon as a honeymoon couple arrived from Detroit via Miami. We expected them in Saturday afternoon. And since they were the only ones going out, there would be room for me to ride along to Pelican's facility on Southwater Caye (this is pronounced 'key' by the way). But they got shuffled to San Pedro instead of Belize City, lost their luggage, got upset and went to a hotel in San Pedro. I am learning pretty well to just sit and wait for the next thing to happen. So I did. By Sunday morning they were fine and came in on the 10:30 am flight. They still didn't have any luggage, but they had bought swim suits, and one outfit a piece, so were all set. They don't figure much in the story after this, so I won't bother with their names.

After lunch they just disappeared. The boat man for Pelican Resort is named Ishmael. A very handsome, young Belizean who knows it, but is so cheerful and helpful, you can put up with it. As soon as he jumps in the water to go retrieve the boat from where it is anchored (away from the dock to discourage unauthorized activities), he starts singing. A man who truly loves his work and his boat. Of course, everything that is used on the cayes has to be brought to them by boat so we had pineapples and beer and coolers full of other stuff (and we brought back garbage and broken screens and empty propane tanks).

It's a 20-30 minute ride to the keys over that blue, blue Caribbean water (well, actually the Bay of Honduras) and for some of it within site of the breakers that mark the reef itself. Inside the reef, such as at Dangriga, there is no surf and the tide change is not very noticeable. Out toward the reef, it's more interesting and there are places where the ocean floor is very close to the surface, so it's just exciting enough to notice how carefully skillful a driver Ishmael is (but of course with the appropriate casual stance, making it all look easy). A friend of Ishmael's also went along, a truck driver from Dangriga named Sam.

Southwater Caye is, I would guess, about 10 acres and has three separate "resort" facilities that can sleep a total of maybe 50 people. The word idyllic was thought up for this place. From the one-winged pelican who follows you around like a dog to the 8 foot nurse shark that comes in to the dock to visit in the evening (well, really to scarf up the guts from cleaning the day's catch, but it seems like a visit), to the snorkeling area accessible from the beach, this is truly a place for an unparalleled tropical experience. Here are a few facts and pix about the Pelican Beach facility there

On with the day. After lunch (tiny meat pies, watermelon, carrots, cookies, fresh lime juice), I wandered around for a bit, waded, read my book, took pictures, put on more sunscreen several times, waiting for my 90 minutes to be up. They still ascribe to the don't-go-in-the-water-until-90-minutes-after-you've-eaten-theory here and won't be persuaded otherwise. Eventually, got fitted for mask and swim fins. We went out in the boat to the snorkeling ground that Sam and Ishmael wanted to visit (why in a moment) with me as the excuse. I kind of liked the idea of going to the place you could walk back to land from, but no. I was pretty nervous, but Ishmael, despite his generally cocky approach to life is a patient and supportive teacher. Put on the gear, over the side, lots of snorting and sputtering and false starts (and grabbing at Ishmael--could have been lots of fun if I were younger).

But I DID IT. I saw many wonderful things. Coral and plants and all manner of beautiful tropical fish. Once we even swam along with a school of several hundred fish. Well, actually if truth be known, I didn't swim with the fish, I just sort of got towed along by Ishmael. Fun, though.

I think the fish were black durgon (tried to look it up afterwards, seems close, but snorkeling is such an immediate and ephemeral experience that I'll try to give up my need to know things and just let it be)...

So, why were in this particular location? Because conch season just opened and Sam wanted to dive for conch. That was also an interesting experience. I got to sort of brace myself and try to stay upright (after they found me a place with no live coral within 10 feet so I didn't tromp anything), waiting for them to resurface and hand me a conch they had just uprooted. "We" got seven nice-sized conch, but they didn't give me one, Sam took them all home to his wife. But we had conch soup at Pelican that night so it was okay. It was a wonderful afternoon, I didn't get sun-burned and only got a tiny bit seasick and got to feel adventurous and experience something I never imagined. I wish you all such a day in your lives.




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