What an adventure-filled day we had today! This morning, at 8:30 AM, Niki, Haley, Coi, Jamie and I met with our trusty guide, Roberto, for a day of snorkeling in the Snake Cayes off the coast of Punta Gorda. We began our adventure last night, when we embarked on a quest to make authentic Belizean coconut crusts like the ones that Juan’s wife Abellina made for us to eat during our Blue Creek adventure! Thankfully, Andrea was present to assist us with some of the hard labor (coconut cracking and grating), and Jamie and I got to have fun making the dough and folding it over and crimping the edges like pros! We also made some pineapple squash juice and put it in a big thermos. Who says four white girls can’t prepare a Belizean meal? 🙂
Roberto picked us up in his boat, not so reverently named the “Son of a Beach.” We rode through the waves for about an hour and a half, stopping once for a quick view of some dolphins! Our ultimate destination was a rather pristine coral reef that was actually geographically closer to the coast of Honduras than to Belize! Roberto outfitted us with flippers and snorkels and we spent a few minutes just admiring how stinking cool we looked. The place where we anchored the boat was pretty shallow, so all of us except Niki could stand easily and get ourselves oriented to the reef. For about an hour, we freely roamed around the reef like mermaids, checking out the beautiful sponges, coral, and fish. No sharks or barracudas or anything, but we did see a beautiful school of blue fish and lots of beautifully delicate water plant life. We also watched Roberto spear a snapper to use as bait to try and catch a bigger fish. It was crazy to watch him throw down his hatchet thing and pull up a gorgeous fish! The surface of the water was also super cool to see. It changed color from a blight azure blue to a darker, more royal blue, and you could look down and see right through to the sandy floor. Awesome.
After our time snorkeling, we headed for a little island only large enough for one building, which looked to be a circular house, and maybe also a place to get gas for boats. Roberto stopped in to chat with someone at the house, and the rest of us walked around the island and admired the beautiful conch shells and the charming sand walkway that went from the kitchen area to the main house to the bathroom and down to the water. It would be a great place for a wedding procession! On our way back to the boat, Niki and Coi each found a beautiful conch shell to bring home to the US. Roberto warned us that tourists have had trouble getting such things home to the US, but I am fully confident that they will be successful. Niki’s shell has the most gorgeous pink sheen on the inside, and it would be a real shame for it to get stuck with some customs officer in Boston. That will NOT happen.
On the way to our next island, Roberto noticed something tugging on one of the fishing lines he’d set up. Coi volunteered to reel in the catch, and it turned out to be a HUGE barracuda, almost as tall as Coi herself! The thing had some pretty serious teeth, and Coi’s homestay mom is cooking it for dinner as we speak! The only downside- – Roberto managed to hook his finger with the HUGE fish hook he’d used to catch the barracuda, and it went straight through his skin. He held his hand out to show us and we all flinched at how nasty it looked. He apologized and said that the thought it would probably be wise to head home so he could go to the hospital. We started back, but about fifteen minutes later, he slowed the boat and said that his finger was feeling a lot better and that he didn’t want to go to the hospital today after all. We told him that we didn’t mind going back, but he was insistent that the hospital wouldn’t be open today anyway (how about that, my USA friends? A hospital that’s closed one day a week?! Crazy!). So our third destination was one of the Snake Caye Islands, and it was beautiful. It looked like the setting for “Survivor,” and we briefly contemplated which of us would emerge victorious and concluded that it would definitely not be Haley, and that it probably would be Coi because she’s small and she scales trees. By the time we got to our survivor island, we were all smiles and laughter, and we took lots of funny pictures, some of which are below for your thorough amusement. 🙂 Roberto even found a snake for us to wrap around our necks so we could feel like snake charmers.
After Snake Caye, we were pretty exhausted, and I was beginning to feel some pain in my forehead and cheeks, which I unfortunately did not fully attend to with my SPF 70+. Silly Sarah. My face kind of hurts as I write this, but it’s one of those annoying pains for which you can blame no one but yourself. I compare it to getting a speeding ticket. It’s your fault, but it doesn’t make you any less mad or pained by it. Dagnabbit.
We returned to PG around 4 PM, tired and sunburned, but happy with our day and all the fun things we got to do and see. It’s so cool to know that I’m living in a place full of such beauty–beautiful people and a beautiful landscape and a beautiful sea…and it’s even cooler to be able to enjoy it with the dear friends I’ve made here! What a splendidly lucky girl I am!
Prepare to learn how to make coconut crusts in a blog to come very soon…!