Memories in Belize: Week 1

I just finished a two-week trip in Belize.  My boyfriend, Justin, and I chose to go to Ambergris Caye for the first week of our trip and then decide from there what would happen next.  We found a great little place on Airbnb away from the large tourist resorts in a private home.  Diana welcomed us to our private room and told us about herself and a bit about the island.  She was a generous hostess and great resource by directing us to her favorite shops, restaurants, and activities.  On the day of my arrival, Justin arranged a SCUBA and snorkel discovery trip.  So, I had my first SCUBA experience and then my first snorkel experience swimming with sting rays and nurse sharks.  It was awesome.  So, I decided to get my open water diving certification.  I had no idea that Belize was so known for its diving.  Most of our adventures required only ten to twenty minute boat rides to reach pristine reefs and dive sites. What a truly incredible experience.  On my second dive, I saw reef sharks; on my third dive I saw turtles.  Dive four was a night dive; dive five was a cave dive to 85 feet.  And then we ventured to do the Great Blue Hole.

The Great Blue Hole is a large sinkhole in the middle of the ocean about 45 miles from Belize.  We had a small group on a large boat equipped with tasty snacks and cool drinks for the two hour ride.  As we approached the dive site, I could see the reason for the name – a ring of light-colored, sandy reef and turquoise waters perfectly encircled a vast dark blue disc of inky water.  The boat anchored, we put on our gear, and jumped into the water.  The man floating next to me said he had waited to do the Great Blue Hole his entire life.  He said he knew he was finally ready and that this would be his 50th dive.  Then, he asked me how many dives I had under my belt.  Five, I said.  His eyes grew wide with horror as he asked me if I was concerned about the depth.  I didn’t even know I was supposed to be concerned.  So on my sixth dive, I dropped to 130 feet below the water’s surface, a depth at which narcosis is possible. We dropped so quickly I didn’t realize we had reached 130 feet until my dive master warned me to stop descending.  For the most part, all I could see around me was blue – and my fellow divers.  Then, I turned and saw the amazing rock formations.  We swam through stalagmites and stalactites six feet in diameter that had formed when the cave was empty of water – just a void in the ocean that later filled with water and, apparently was the playground for a group of 5 reef sharks we saw swimming in the distance.  Because of the depth, our time at 130 feet was very short, and soon we swam back to the boat to do two more dives that day.

The next dive took place in the Aquarium – an area swarming with uncountable fish and marine life.  Our dive master led the way carrying a spear this time.  About halfway through the dive, he propelled the spear forward and killed a lion fish.  The lion fish has no natural predators and is slowly overtaking the reefs of Belize; so, anyone can kill them at any time.  With the lion fish on his spear, the dive master began pulling at the fins and making the dead fish bleed.  Then, he waited, and soon a reef shark swam toward him and ate the lion fish right off his spear.

After witnessing this amalgamation animal and man, we surfaced, swam to the boat, and drove to a tiny Island called Half-moon Caye.  The island is the breeding place for the Red-footed Booby Bird, which is protected.  We took our lunch of stewed chicken and rice off the boat and sat on the dock hovering above turquoise water that teamed with fish.  When we dropped rice into the water, the fish would swarm and eat it, a delightful bit of entertainment.  When we finished we walked onto the white sands of the island and followed the trail to the lookout point for the Booby nesting look-out point.  We walked under the tree canopy of palms laden with coconuts while large iguanas stared at us skeptically.

When our time on Half-moon Caye finished, we headed back to Ambergris Caye, where our time was also coming to a close.  We enjoyed the rum, the Belikin beer, the lobster tail burrito (with a side of lobster), the beach, sun, sand, and water.  Then we hopped on a shuttle to enter the jungle at an eco-resort known as Pook’s Hill Lodge.  More on this in Belize #2.

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