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#38320 - 04/30/01 09:51 PM Ax's Final days in AC....
Axeman Offline
Ok Folks this is the last of the "Axeman goes to AC Story" series..

I hope I've brought you back to the place you love...if only for a short time..I know that if I only brought a smile to your face I've done what I set out to do...If I've forgotten anything and anyone please forgive me..you all have played a part in my adventure...weather it was answering my questions before during or after I got there!

23 April... After my exhausting trip to Blue Hole..I decided to take a day off and just hang around AC for the day...ride through the back roads...soak in the true depth of how the real people of AC live...those that provide us with all the nice things you see in town, the drinks we drink, make the beds we sleep in, clean the rooms..all that stuff...what I found was humble, proud and sometimes struggling people trying to live a day to day life...
Never in all my travels did I EVER not get a return smile or a wave back...Many who live in the back roads of San Pedro have humble homes, some as a result of Keith have little more than sheds put together from the remains of houses that were literally blown apart from 3 days of constant pounding they took.
Now I'm not trying to get on a soap box , but..if you have the time and maybe even the resourses to help, try to stop by the Lions
Club and donate...even a few dollars goes a long way for building materials, and basic support and medical needs...ok enough...

Breakfast this day was at Celi's store front window, a great guy named Shawn was waiting for his johnny cakes, the grill was still heating up..so we talked...and talked...his story was not unlike others I heard...left AC years ago for the US...got tired of LA Calif. and finally came back to the place he could not get out of his heart. (Sound Familiar?) His was a tale of gangs and rough street people...stress and being subjected to what we all go through in our lives. The calm I felt from him was almost intoxicating...I too had begun to feel it myself...after only 5 days...The simple breakfast was biscuits, ham and cheese and coffee..after paying, we made our way to the steps on the reef side to watch and enjoy the passersby...During the our stay I watched the marvel that is the true spirit of Ac...
Several people stopped to talk..one or 2 in need of a libation..without thinking Shawn gave them a few dollars to buy our favorite (belikin). He gave without judgement or contempt, disapproval..no sign of regret...only the desire to help another human being who truly was in need. This is AC...They have known disaster and loss and need to a degree many of us can not even imagine...
My favorite local pup wandered up, compelling me to also share my breakfast with his smileing eyes, ate well and drifted off to sleep at my feet.
With work soon to start Shawn bid me farewell..he was off to the Reef Bar, owned and run by Carl...at great place to stop, I found out later...Good Fish samwiches and VERY cold Beer...

I wandered for a bit...up and down the beach visiting with those I had met...the sun was just begining to warm the night chilled sand.
I realize now that I've left alot out...my memory and log keeping at this point in my stay started to wane....
At some point I ran into my Buds Rick & Cheri' and we planned our nightly cavorting...Looked like a night for Fido's, Barefoot Skinny, and the Hideaway...
With that plan worked out we went to see R&C's land in the process of being cleared.
They chose a wonderful spot north of the hand ferry..and across the road from the reef...The view, once the house goes up will no doubt be incredible! I have to say a small ping of envy hit me as we walked through...to call this spot home..ya..that would be a dream come true, for them a reality.
For the first time I felt the true heat of the jungle, for the trees blocked the everpresent trade winds...it was thick as fog, surrounding me and made breathing slightly labored. I got a glimse of what it might have been like when the first settler stepped foot here to clear the land.

Haveing done that..R&C prepared for the trip back to Dallas, a sad moment for all of us after such a short time together...We hung out at Holiday...drank a Belikin...sat with Trevor and his lovely friend Lisa...and tried not to become caught up in the emotion of seperation. We all took pictures to preserve this precious moment in time..knowing it would never be exactly the same.
The time had finally come to ride to the Airport...it was all too quick, too soon to end this communion of souls. We all rode in silence, Rick, Cheri', Mona, Wayne and I..trying to maintain our composure...As luck would have it the plane was delayed so we had an hours respite from departure...
We chose to spend our last moments together at Cafe Ole', a quaint coffee shop, along with a young local boy that R&C had kind of adopted. We all drank and made small talk till it was time...walked to the plane and bit our fellow travelers farewell, till we meet again....soon I hoped. I felt a sense of loss with their departure...
Wayne and Mona and I made our way to La Margarita for lunch, I had the Combo, they shared a mixed Fagita...The burrito's were the best ever...

The following day I was once again diveing...this time Cypress Canyon 87' 47min Total Dive Time
This was by far the roughest water we had been through so far, add 8 divers and all the gear and trouble is not far away...We had 3 new divers on this trip and I was feeling protective and very alert. Up to this point all had gone well...the tide changed, so to speak. One of the two outboards developed a miss in the channel and we barely made the dive site.
Once suited up we hit the water...I had trouble clearing my ears for a minute or two..then all was well...These canyons are very majestic, with coral heads riseing 10-20 feet in some places...
As we reached the bottom we were greeted by a completely trusting Nassau Grouper and One VERY Large HUNGRY Black Grouper..I decided to feed him some of my special fish food...unfortunately he was alittle overzealous and managed to enjoy more than just the offered food..he got the skin of my little finger...there goes that fingerprint!...hehe...no blood was drawn and we're still buddies..lesson learned here..wear gloves when feeding large hungry groupers :-) He continued to follow us the entire dive like a Lab puppy...guess I tasted pretty good...
To our suprise we encountered a Huge Loggerhead Turtle..he was slow enough to catch and I was able to hitch a short ride..much to his dismay! ( I learned after I got home that this IS VERY BAD..they can go into shock and die from fear!) I was appalled and will not soon forget this lesson!
Soon after this we sighted 2 nurse sharks in the deeper canyons below and even saw a large eagle ray..he was so graceful and aloof, not letting us close. Two more smaller turtles appeared soon after. Just as we were about to turn for the boat one of the new divers began a panic surface move...he had been leaking air constantly and his buddy had not noticed. His gauge read 500psi but had 0..George handled it like a pro...calming the boy down, holding him and making sure he was ok. We surfaced and reboarded the boat with much difficulty as it had become rougher...
The trip was not over yet...we headed for the dock and once again the motor died...only this time we were too near the reef to turn out and too underpowered to abort our course...we turned with the rolling waves and into the reef. Thankfully to water was deep enough to cross but we did have one wave break over the stern...
We limped home wet but undamaged, the newer divers thought it was a blast..I found it disturbing.( For the record, the motor was replaced as soon as we got back with a newly rebuilt one, and George was not at the helm at the time..another man was.)

The next dive was a repeat for me but still fun..Tres Coco's...60' 50min
Had a very fun guy named Mike , a dive instructor from Wisconsin with us...so the dive went very well and we had a blast!
Our next dive was by far the most fish filled one..HOL CHAN...40' almost 60' Total dive time!
This reserve has BY FAR the most fish I've seen in all of my AC dives!!! Every reef fish in the book was present except the larger sharks...Was a wonderful array of colors and large schools of all kinds!!!!
If ya miss this dive you've missed alot!!!!
Only the Half Moon Caye Wall topped it for action....The current in some parts is strong so be rested up..!
Mike and I were staying at the Coconuts so in the tradition of AC I gave him the Tour of "La Isle Bonita"...
We ended up at the Traditional Wed. BBQ at Celi's...Superb as always...if ya do'nt make it there for this, be sure to try the Conch Soup..it is to DIE FOR!!!!

The next morning my planned dive was called off, so Mike and I once again hit the bikes for a tour! We found an area that showed the true impact of Keith...it was heartbreaking...my soul went out to those who survived the onslaught.

We returned humbled and quiet to our comfortable hotel....

My next trip was to the famed Shark Ray City,
even though this is a snorkel trip only I have to say it was the most fun...I've interacted with Dolphins in Cozamel, but nothing prepared me for the intense interaction with 7-8 nurse sharks and 4-5 sting rays. These animals are truely the gentle giants of the reef....even while we fed them, they never once threatened me nor did they even bump me. I found them completly at ease with me and almost impossible to disturb. Several times I took hold of the Largest of the group, turned him/her over, rubbed it's belly...with not even a minor reaction. They are completly docile and gentle as lambs. The Rays tended to rise up from the bottom and slide up my body with their silky skin hopeing for a sardine....they too were non aggressive, almost shy, completely at ease with me in the water. They love the interaction and continued to return for attention.
This is a trip you MUST not miss for any reason..if ya don't do anything else...do this and you'll have captured a moment few could put into words, nothing compares to it!

My Last Dive was to Victoria Tunnels 106' 47 min Total dive time
Ok folks...if ya like dark tunnels and the rush of being closed in uderwater..this is the one for you!!! I loved it...there is nothing like the excitement of heading into to a completely black cave and slowly working through it with lights only! The Blue Hole Rush hit me again...the adreneline pumped big time...the absolute absence of the surface adds an element of percieved danger I live for. Once again a persistant Barracuda showed up..this one was more aggressive than any other we'd seen..he would not go away..he made several close passes, both in front of and behind George and I. This was the first time I felt threatened the entire trip, this was HIS home and I was the intruder! Finally he cruised off in search of food smaller than us. Probably better tasteing too!
As often happens, we again we're visited by a huge black grouper who acted as if we might be a potential date...She followed us the entire dive, never getting more that 2-3' away at any time!
This is a spectacular dive folks combining canyons and a long tunnel, do not forget your light! The coral was in very good condition and the vistas superb!

This dive prepared me for one of the best nights in AC!

As always I returned to Coconuts and it's beautiful beach bar to have one of Margies Tasty Margaritas...Nothing else hits the spot after a great dive!

Mike and I headed to Celi's for the Thursday BBQ...I refuse to miss this...Then we were in for the time of our lives...FIDO'S and Barefoot Skinny!!!!
A guest Guitarist played with Skinny, the mood at Fido's was riotous...everyone seemed fired up that night! Skinny played some of the most incredible sets I had seen the entire trip!!!! While at the bar we were visited by two British Airbourne Rangers..who had just gotten done with 3 weeks in the Jungle..and needless to say were READY to party!!!!!They started at 11am and had quite a lead on us...Before too long shirts were being lifted and bottoms exposed, must have been some kind of paratrooper mateing ritual!!! Everyone seemed to take it in stride...this is unheard of in AC ( the removeing of ones clothes in public) but concidering what they had been through acceptable, and not offensive. No children were present thank god!
I ran into 3 stunning ladies who I met days bbefore, Sara, Grace, and the Lovely Miss Jennifer, they invited me to sit with them them and enjoy the music and even got me to dance...I'm shy at first..takes a few beers to get me wound up...and wound up we all got!!!The Punta Rebels came on and the entire place started rocking to a fevored pitch! They got each lady who was willing to come up and learn the PUNTA!!! Now this got everyone even more fired up...Everyone not either unconsious or dead was up danceing..in fact one gent was so fired up he lost his bathing suit..completely...That drew laughter and howls from Everyone!!!!
We closed Fido's down and continued to the Best Thurday night danceing spot known to man or beast...THE JAGUAR CLUB...if you miss this on Thursday..well... shame on you!..I don't think I've ever danced so much in my entire life...the crowd was out of control there..in a good way that is...As all good things must end..the club signaled it was time to close and we were off on the final leg of our riotous evening....Like lemmings we went where most overheated ,alcohol soaked adults go...to the water...sans clothes...it was time to return to our teenage years and go skinnydipping....
All I can say at this point is...thank god the PICA PICA were asleep!!!!The cool water was refreshing and woke us all up..I felt more alive than I have in years!
In closeing I want to thank all of those who shared their time with me..you have changed me in ways you will never know...to share your heart and love for a virtual stranger with no reserve, has left me brimming over with an endless supply for my fellow humans...I will never be the same....
Till we meet again....Mark AKA Axeman

[This message has been edited by Axeman (edited 04-30-2001).]
Life May Be a Beach...I prefer Reefs...

#38321 - 04/30/01 10:37 PM Re: Ax's Final days in AC....
rickcheri Offline
OK, crying again...thanks Mark! We also truly felt a "communion"...we had an awesome time!! Will do "crocs" next time!! Please try and plan it...u too Wayne and Lisa, and RAmona and....too long to type w/one finger!!Itmost definitly changes the "spirit" you're a wonderful writer!! I would never have guessed to read those kind of words from an "AXEMAN"!!then again, kindred spirits are like that at times... C p.s. our "adopted" son's name is Del Rio...and where you took the ride...Probably San Pablo/San Pedrito...the little "shack" back there is Willie's!!

[This message has been edited by rickcheri (edited 04-30-2001).]

#38322 - 04/30/01 11:36 PM Re: Ax's Final days in AC....
Gary Offline

Thanks for your trip report. Your kind and honest words, will help many people understand why we keep returning to Ambergris Caye. Glad you enjoyed yourself!


#38323 - 05/01/01 12:01 AM Re: Ax's Final days in AC....
rickcheri Offline
Thanks for everything... You will be on of the clan!!!!!! We will see each other on the island again, like we said before this was the best trip we have taken to the island with many more to come.. Thanks for the companionship and fellowship,,,, Take care and we'll talk with you soon, Rick and Cheri

#38324 - 05/01/01 09:49 AM Re: Ax's Final days in AC....
diann Offline
What an incredible experience, and place!! I tried to read all of your posts very slowly, as to allow me to 'stay' there with you. And to think family and friends were worried before about me never returning?!?!??! I'd better not let them read this!!!! Thanks again for sharing your soul.........

ps....you write very well, for a wild man
can't wait to see the pix!!!!

#38325 - 05/01/01 11:22 AM Re: Ax's Final days in AC....
one of the best all-around reports i've read. mark, you really captured the essence. it will stay with you all of your days.

#38326 - 05/01/01 11:35 AM Re: Ax's Final days in AC....
Debbie Offline
Your writing ability is incredible. I was right there with you. Thank you so much for sharing and allowing us to live it through you. In my mind's eye, I could see every detail. I go in about 38 days. I can't wait, and you have, of course, made me much more anxious. I was most interested in your sighting of a huge Laggerhead turtle. How cool!!!! I'm a big turtle fan. I'm so happy that you had an unforgettable experience.

#38327 - 05/01/01 06:08 PM Re: Ax's Final days in AC....
lmarquis Offline
Mark: arriving in four days for first visit. I have really enjoyed your reports. So, how was the weather? You mentioned rained very briefly. Any other comments? I am out of my head excited!!!!!


#38328 - 05/01/01 06:28 PM Re: Ax's Final days in AC....
Axeman Offline
I'm glad you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

As far as the weather, It was always sunny...a few days it looked as if it would rain, but none fell..There were NO bugs at all! The breeze blows none stop there so you hardly feel the heat...but BEWARE if you are fair skinned you will get cooked FAST!!!!
Be sure to say hello to Jan at Cannibals and stop by and see Trevor at Ramon's Resturant.
He a great guy!!! And ladies he knows this town!!!! And I hear he's quite the ladies man... Also if your gonna dive go see George at Coral Reef dock...Near the Offshore Express..he's a great diver!!!
Have fun you all..I really wish I could have stayed for a month...at least...you will too if ya take the time to talk to the local people...
Life May Be a Beach...I prefer Reefs...

#38329 - 05/01/01 09:31 PM Re: Ax's Final days in AC....
Mary and Scott Offline
Mark...you truly wrote from the heart! It absolutely reinforced what we felt after our first trip to AC...while the folks that live there may not be "rich" in the sense that we judge wealth,they are,in our minds,the wealthiest of people for knowing what is truly important in this world. AC is truly a mind opening experience,and you captured it in words for all to enjoy. Peace. Thank you.
Mary and Scott

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