So here goes, the first of our updates, this one scribed by me…James. So far we have both spent a considerable about of time sat in two hammocks hanging from the end of our own private pier, so much so that my spine is staring to take on the characteristic U- shape. Never the less we have managed to accomplish a few things of note and I will do my best to recount them below.
We landed in Belize City and made a quick escape out to Caye Caulker by Water Taxi. We were chauffeured along the way by two gentlemen referring to themselves as Chester and Lulu. The latter collected us from the dock in a Golf Cart, the main mode of transportation on Caye Caulker. Caye Caulker is a sleepy little island with a heavy Caribbean influence that can be tasted in the cuisine, heard through the uninterrupted Reggae and witnessed via the leisurely pace of general day to day activity (I have been advised to "go slow" on more than one occasion by a concerned local). The Island was split horizontally by a Hurricane sometime in the 60's with a channel of water andReggae Bar marking the divide, the north end being relatively uninhabited aside from the indigenous salt water crocodiles and the south housing a population of approximately 1500 locals.
After a quick cat nap hunger got the better of us and we headed to 'Wish Willy' which our guidebook claims to serve the best seafood in Belize. To say they were a little unprepared for guests is an understatement however we were beckoned into an outside area (which looked conspicuously like somebodies backyard) by a large convivial chap with long flowing dreadlocks and a big booming voice, we assumed for no good reason that this was Willy himself. Inside 5 or 6 young men gathered around a BBQ and slaughtered fresh lobster in front of our eyes, this was to be our meal for the evening along with a frying pan full of delicious fried rice, aubergines and two bottles of Belizian stout.
After breakfast we set off to navigate the island by foot, along the way we carefully noted a pig roast being prepared and came across Mara's Place whereupon we booked a beachside cabin for the following evening and onwards. A few Belikin Beers at the 'Lazy Lizard' bar along with an 'all you can eat' pig roast buffet and Day 2 was in the history books.
Checked into our new lodgings and settled into hammocks at the end of the pier with our Kindles for company. I completed what I promised would be my last management book for a while and also managed to get through 'The Importance of Being Earnest' which made me chuckle out loud more than once. After a few hrs of this we hit the water with our snorkeling gear. Remaining very close to shore the wildlife was limited but we did stumble across a squid and a couple of beautiful bright orange starfish. Beers on the porch then dinner of lobster curry and rum punch courtesy of 'Jolly Rogers Grill' along with much discussion of the impending night snorkel for which we were both more than a little nervous. On the way back to the cabin, as we stood at the end of the pier to look at the stars, Hannah pointed out a large eagle ray silently gliding towards and then under the pier beneath our feet.
Kicked things off with fresh cinnamon rolls and coffee at Glenda's. Followed this up with several hrs of hammock time, our only interruption to purchase Tamales from a passing street vendor.At around 5pm we reported for duty at the questionably named, Tsunami Adventure Tours, in readiness for our 'night snorkel' along the reef just off the coast. We placed our lives in the hands of Daniel and 12 year old Alvin, our tour guides, jumping nervously into the middle of the ocean in the black of night. As soon as our heads were underwater all of those nerves disappeared and we were rewarded with sightings of several color changing Octopus, Lobster and a bright green Moray Eel briefly leaving its layer to swallow an unfortunate Lion Fish without chewing once. The ocean is a very different place at night but back on land I put aside my heightened respect for marine life long enough to order and devour a whole BBQ'd snapper.
More snorkeling, this time during the day at 4 different points along the reef; Ho Chan, Shark/Ray alley the Coral Gardens and one other which escapes my memory. The highlight of the day was unexpected, we swam with nurse sharks, eagle rays, gigantic groupers and a green turtles which were all amazing but the Coral Gardens took the prize. A collection of weird almost 'otherworldly' coral and underwater plants left me wondering if someone hadn't slipped something in my tuna sandwich. I spent at least 10 minutes just staring at one particular outcrop of golden yellow tubes, formed from even smaller tubes all swaying back and forth with the current. Joining us on the trip was an extremely well-travelled Indian family who gave us some great recommendations for Chile and Bolivia. During conversation one of the elder gentlemen in this party revealed that he ran the largest intensive care unit in California, I mention him because his ineptitude with a snorkel was striking. On the frequent occasion I surfaced to demist he could be seen coughing, spluttering and swallowing concerning volumes of seawater. He pressed on admirably and only sat out the last dive; I assume he is more gifted in the field of medicine.