Published: August 10th 2010August 8th 2010
Swimming with the Sea Cows
We found ourselves in Belize almost by mistake. Like all good travel, you only plan your next destination when you have to leave the current one. In this case we were on our way to book our bus to Palenque and found ourselves saying "Belize City". The ticket was written before we had time to change our minds.
So on a 5am "luxury" bus (never, ever, under any circumstances, believe the hype about C American tours) with leg room for anyone under 5ft, we made our way to the border, onwards to the ferry terminal, and finally a boat to Caye Caulker. We were on the beach before midday and burnt by 1pm.
To keep costs down we took a beach hut for 4 people with Frank and Alex. However, after finding out mochila terrorists set explosives in Frank's bag each time he gets to a new room we opted for the extra cost and relative tidyness of a double the next day.
We booked a snorkel excursion that promised manatees, nurse sharks, sting rays and free flowing rum punch on the trip to shore (remember, never believe the hype) and went back to the beach.
Harmless ... honestly Mum.
We know we've spent our budget and we know we should be eating from the supermarket, but lobster is in season. One of us had lobster every night, sometimes we both did!!
Ragga Queen, with captains Ramsey, Rafael and Jacob on-board, looked after us in fine style. As we moored for our first snorkel, Ramsey pointed out the manatees ... we couldn't really see them and we'd heard they are shy and swim off when apprached so expected little. But when we got there, they didn't budge, not even with Paul poking a camera under their noses. We can't quite see how sailors mistook them for mermaids (though weeks away at sea has made sailors consider many things that they wouldn't while ashore) but they are graceful and beautiful in their own way.
Back on the boat we tucked into the tasty lunch awaiting us as we moved on to Shark & Ray Alley.
As soon as we dropped anchor they surrounded us. Nurse sharks and rays as excitable as if Steve Irwin had been reincarnated. As soon as we dropped in though they dispersed, but never fully went away. The rays seemed to like having their
Paul & Ben settle into the first of many.
backs and bellies stroked and would glide past so as to just touch you. Solo Nurse sharks would get curious and check out anyone drifting away from the group. Paul found himself face to face with one for about 5 seconds until the pathetic shark backed down and changed its direction. To be truthful, Paul was more stuck to the spot, mesmorised by the approaching creature, than standing his ground. A sharp intake of breath was needed when it altered course, but at 3m depth, hanging on to the seabed it was not really possible and he came up spluttering!
The third excursion needed a whale shark to top the previous two, but didn't deliver. Never mind, the inexhaustable supply of rum punch on the way back helped us get over it! With Raggamuffin, you can believe the hype.
One more day on the beach, then into the hut to avoid the storm, then onto the beach, then back into the hut to avoid more rain, etc. and all too soon it was time to head for Tulum in Mexico, via a open top boat to Chetumal, in a rainstorm, with no hut to hide in.