Belize~Thur. May, 13, 2004 ~ Snorkeling ~ Part II
Everyone gears up and into the water we go. I rise to the surface, face the boat, and see Tulu and the mister laughing and sharing whispered words. I suspect it’s about me. Well, what did I do that was so funny? Tulu’s response is that I don’t even realize what I just did. What? Ahah!!! I went into the water without the vest. The expression on his face says it all. He is proud as a spanking new father. The vest is not used again.
Once Tulu is in the water he begins to put bits of fish in an old conch shell lying on the seabed. In a few moments time the nurse sharks begin to appear and swarm all around us. He holds onto one and we have the opportunity to touch them.
The skin is very rough. The sharks are gentle and cause no harm. We are told that it’s not a good idea to stick a finger in their mouth. Mr. Eg even managed to grab onto a dorsal fin and hitch a ride. Once again, Tulu is a proud papa. This is simply an indescribable experience and I recommend it to all.
Bar Jacks- Nurse Shark-Blue Tang
After the feeding ends and the sharks swim away the group spends some time viewing the coral and multitudes of fish. There are some very large schools of fish and the coral heads have stretches of sandy bottom covered with turtle grass between them.
Blue Tang are about the size of a dinner plate.
Shark Ray Alley is much easier to snorkel than Hol Chan. Tulu surfaces several times to glance behind us and has a perturbed look on his face. It seems the other two have forgotten the instructions and are off on some venture of their own. “They’ll learn,” he says. Their loss. He leads us on and points out Fire Coral and a coral formation that has almost every nook and cranny filled with Sea Urchins. These are not the small ones. They range in size from an extremely large grapefruit to a basketball. Instructions are don’t touch. I’m still amazed at how they are able to wedge themselves into the coral. A few Barracuda are spotted.
Before boarding the boat we are shown a grotto where an octopus lives and catch just a glimpse of a tentacle.
All too soon it is time to lift anchor and begin the trip back to San Pedro. It has been a good day with very few tour groups and no cruise ship visitors. Where the reef has a cut in it, the waves pouring into the inner sea are a little larger and the prow of the boat slams across them. It can be a jolt. This is better than an amusement park ride! Warm sunshine, wind in the face, reef view for miles on end and the company of nice people are cherished on the return trip. Pam and Melissa are dropped at their dock, the rental equipment is returned and the Janelle heads North for the Paradise Villa dock. We all unload the equipment and conch shells and carry them into the unit. Some time is spent on the porch sharing stories and arranging for a trip on Saturday.
Myra, the maid, has been in and tidied up. She does a good job. There is never a speck of sand left on the floor. The porch is swept and the basin of water kept at the top of the steps used to rinse your feet is filled with fresh water. Despite rinsing of the feet, sand always seemed to gain entry into the unit and I kept lamenting the lack of throw rugs in front of the door and kitchen sink. Myra has laid rugs and even put one beside the bed. That girl is spectacular!
After our guide departs we take a shower and I’m looking a little red but not hurting. Aloe Vera gel is applied. Snorkeling takes a lot of energy and it’s not long before we are both taking an afternoon nap. Waking in the late afternoon, I am bright red and experiencing some pain. Fried Eg…very well done. The back is very red but doesn’t hurt much. However, the little areas of skin at the very bottom of one’s sitting area are screaming like a banshee. The do rag saved the head. Thank Heaven for sundresses because nothing else will work. We take off for the grocery store to purchase a bottle of vinegar and meet Miguel, the security guard, at the back entrance. One look at me and he determines my back looks very bad. When I turn around and lift the dress enough to show what’s really the problem he kinda chuckles and tells me to find him later and I’ll be given an Aloe leaf. My favorite remedy is available. Upon return, the leaf is given; I’m liberally coated with vinegar and then slathered with fresh aloe. Sitting on anything proves to be a problem and a towel becomes my best friend for the remainder of the evening.
Rum Punch is made and we head for the porch to enjoy the last rays of daylight to find we have neighbors. Scott and Angie with their friend Cindy has been bumped from the Blue Tang, next door, due to a wedding party taking their space. They have plans to view properties for sale; Scott plans to dive and the ladies are going on a couple mainland tours. We visit for awhile then go our separate ways to find dinner. A short stroll down Middle Street brings us to the park that has a row of local food vendors. Choosing the busiest, rice and beans with stewed chicken is ordered. The chicken burrito she’s making sure looks good. The gallon jar full of onions and a few carrots looks interesting but is there something in it there that shouldn’t be? Small specks of something are floating in the brine. Closer inspection leads me to believe it must be habanero. The vendor finishes the burritos and begins making my order. Rice and beans are being heaped upon the plate to the point that it will surely buckle due to the weight. A couple pieces of chicken are piled on top and I add some of the onion mixture on too. The local standing next to me is having a difficult time restraining himself stopping me from putting so many onions on the plate. I’m getting the “Lady, you have no idea how hot that is” look. Smiling at him I say “Habanero” and he nods “Yes.” In due time, we are home and eating one of the most delicious meals of the entire trip. There was more than enough for both and it only cost $5.00 BZ. What a bargain!
The remainder of the evening is spent on the porch until such time that a pleasant weariness overcomes us and the bed is calling our names. As the head is rested upon the pillow there is the fleeting thought that seven days in this paradise is not enough.