This was my third trip to Belize, my first solo trip. My husband does not dive and did not really want to go this time, so it was my adventure.
Flew from Philadelphia to AC on October 16. Not enough time to visit Jet at BZE. It seemed the lines were longer than usual, including one labelled "Interrogation". Fortunately, did not get interrogated. Tropicair flight...saw roseate spoonbills in wet areas by airstrip as we landed.
Rode to The Tides Resort (run by Patojo and Sabrina Paz)and met Dave, in charge of office and finance stuff and Butch, who was tending bar. My room was the Blue Hole...very nice with AC, small frig, view of beach and pool.
I was hungry so I started walking and foraging for food. Papi's is nearby, but it was closed until a later hour. I stood for a while, gazing longingly (picture a dog staring sadly at empty food bowl) at the door of Papi's, but gave up. Walked down the beach. There was a political rally underway. I was told that PM Musa was there but I did not see him. I was still hungry and finally made my way to Estel's, where I met her son and snagged a delicious chicken burrito. Back to eat my burrito and have a Belikin on the porch in front of my room.
Next day, October 17, breakfast on the dock. The room rates advertised continental breakfast but breakfast was always way better than continental: pancakes, fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, etc., different each day. (The dive shop and hotel office are also on the dock. Very nice swimming area at the end of the dock.) Met Patojo and he described our two dives of the day. (I believe Patojo is the brother of the owner of Amigos Del Mar.) Out with Martin and Guillermo to Victoria Canyon and Tackle Box. Beautiful sea life including a turtle. Good visibility. Water seemed extraordinarily warm even for CA. Then to Lily's with some of the other hotel guests/divers for awesome clam fritters. Walked to the grocery store and that is when tragedy struck...no One Barrel! Caribbean Rum turned out to be OK substitute. Back at the Tides, met some other guests (fishermen/geologists) and talked with Butch and Patojo. Patojo has amazing stories of when he was younger and also of present day. At this point, Hurricane Wilma was beginning to make the news. Patojo said we would do two dives the next day and then learn whether the American Embassy was recommending evacuation. Apparently the rule is, in the case of evacuation, all the tourists are to be evacuated before the local residents.
October 18 dove Esmeralda with Guillermo, who kept fish snacks in his wetsuit. The yellowtails followed him like a pack of puppies. Also saw sharks and other cool stuff. Then to Tres Cocos. Again, fun dive. Wind had picked up by the time we surfaced. Hurricane Wilma now had her own theme song on the Weather Channel.
Decided to do a night dive. It was wonderful. Everything underwater looks and acts so different at night. An annoyed octopus changed colors a couple of times, trying to convince us that he or she was something other than an octopus so we would leave him or her alone. Weird to see herds of crabs crawling across the bottom. A wonderful dive.
October 19, awoke and went for a quick swim in mirror-smooth water. By the time I had dressed and come down for breakfast, waves were rolling OVER the dock and the sky was one of those weird colors that tells you something unusual is going to happen. Weather Channel is reporting that Wilma is a very strong hurricane. Others decide to stay for a while, but, discretion the better part of valor and all that jazz, I decided not to take the chance. Did get to meet Sabrina Paz, Patojo's amazing wife. She and I reminisced about New Orleans and then she went into action and miraculously managed to get me on a flight home. While waiting to leave, I hung around with the others and listened to the radio. Patojo and staff were reviewing possibility of getting his (extremely heavy) compressor onto to dry land. It was also interesting to see all the boat owners transporting their boats around the island to the safety of the mangroves on the landward side of the island. I later learned that there was not too much damage and the wonderful Tides Resort was OK. Great news as I am already looking forward to going back.