Travel Blog: Week 13
04.02.2013 – 10.02.2013
Weather fantastic so the bird survey is on. We left at 6:30 and managed 4 points with mostly I identified heard!!! The highlight of the survey was the unexpected appearance of a manatee. We surprised it with the boat. Once it realised we were there it raised its back in a swirl of mud, flicked its tail and was off through lovers tunnel like a rocket causing a huge wake. Awesome!
We were late back so grabbed a quick breakfast before Pam, Kate and I went off to San Pedro with Sam and Fito. It was pissing it down when we left which is not the best deal in an open boat, full of trash to take to the city dump, but by the time we reached San Pedro at 11 it was gorgeous. We had 3 hours – we bought groceries for everyone, had a great lunch (cheese and ham toastie with salad – a rare treat), made use of the free wifi and did a little shopping. At the dock we helped Sam load the boat with wood (they were going to build a new bunk bed), food provisions, and ice.
The weather was glorious and I absolutely love whizzing across the water in a fast boat. We made it back for 4pm and had the afternoon off so I treated myself to a shower (oh, I so miss warm showers) and chilled.
Dinner and birthday cake and whe di gwan – tomorrow was Klavdija’s birthday AND party night.
We all had the morning off. First survey was manatee mapping after breakfast. We found manatees almost immediately but the best thing was that it was my turn to get in the water to video. A double edged experience as part of you is really excited and the other part is a tad nervous to come face to face with these gentle giants. Anyway, I got to have that experience. A manatee appeared out of the murky waters and looked me straight in the face, took a good look and then sauntered off. An after the initial heart in mouth moment I actually remembered to record the event. I had a manatee video!!
Back in time for lunch – blooming marvellous pasta AND cheese. Then out for snorkel sizing. Basically we have to guess the size if a distant object underwater so that when we see megafauna we are better experienced at estimating the size. We saw lobsters, eagle ray which came right up to me and then a nurse shark.
The rest of the day was getting ready for party night in celebration of Klavdija’s birthday. There were a number of themes – pirates, ninjas but the most popular was just plain clobber for a party.
The booze was cracked open just after 5 and it was a few hours before dinner so everyone was pretty merry by the time the pizza was ready at 8. Loads more drinking, cake eating, singing and dancing followed. We also had a special piñata strung up over the beach which we all had the chance to swipe, blindfolded, at to smash it down. After about 10 people it lost its fight and spewed its candy and condoms!!!
Really easy day as most people had a hangover.
Decided to treat myself and have eggs for breakfast
I sunbathed, read and listened to music. The only survey was manatees and we had another successful day. Loads of sightings and Roshny was the lucky one to get up close and personal and get the video footage.
Back in time for lunch and a short walk along the beach. There were the usual suspects of swimming crabs, shoals of tiny and medium sized fish, hermit crabs, brown pelicans, herons, egrets, ibis, frigate birds, plovers, and flycatchers (and yes I can now identify all of those and more – get me) BUT there was also a new kid on the block. A Caribbean Round Stingray!! It was just lurking in the shallows. It was trying to find the perfect sand bank to bury itself. I followed it along the shore for a good hundred yards whilst it swam out and back and swirled the sand around it. A few times it completely banked itself out of the water right next to where I was standing. If only i had my camera.
Dinner and manatee survey write up.
Pretty much everyone was to bed early after the excitement of the night before. And when i say early it was around 8. We are so rock n roll.
Lie in this morning.
Manatee survey at 9. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the water as clear as it will ever get in the mangroves and the current was slow. We started to see manatees almost immediately. Nik was first in the water and then i got my chance. A number of tourist boats. 1 helpful one gave me a whistle when I was snorkelling and pointed me towards the latest sighting. Bingo – I got a great video of 2 manatees nose to nose. That same tourist boat moored up along side us and provided us all with beers. A quick snorkel at barracuda patch – this time I noticed some damage to the reef caused a while ago by someone dropping anchor!!!
Back for lunch then an afternoon of data entry for all the surveys we’d recorded. I didn’t feel like bed so sat in the hammock listening to music and watching the stars. Fritz, the dog, appeared out of the darkness and gave me the fright of my life. I will miss this location. Being so close to unspoiled nature with its peace and tranquility.
The chance for another lie in but I was watching the dawn. So beautiful! We were out on manatee survey again and the manatees were being accommodating again. Loads more sightings and another chance to get in the water with them – one swam right under me. More tourist boats – not so environmentally responsible today though.
The afternoon was free, apart from an open snorkel trip, so I decided to have some time to myself and walk to rocky point. It took me an hour and a half each way as I took the more challenging beach path. Dodging the trash, the seaweed, and the squelching mud. I saw so many birds, iguanas, fish and crabs. Eventually I reached rocky point which is covered in beautiful clusters of dead coral rock.
I got back to base, showered, and relaxed in the hammock before dinner.
Tonight turned out to be party night. The Belizeans made a huge jug of rum punch and it flowed and flowed and flowed. We ended up playing “ring of fire” drinking game – never a good idea!! It was a great night up to a point then that moment struck. The sinking moment when you think I should have stopped drinking ages ago. So the next minutes were spent talking to god down the great white telephone. Thankfully I had a number of good Samaritans who supplied me with a constant supply of water and I managed to flush out my system (sorry if that’s too much info for some of you). I was in a fair to middling state my the time I climbed into the top bunk of my hut.
The morning came all too quickly and pretty much everyone got up late and not the best for wear.
I managed a small amount of oats for breakfast and then summoned as much gusto as I could to face the boat trip to the manatee survey. Thankfully I held it together and even managed to get in the water to video manatees. We stopped in the mangroves one last time for a spot of snorkelling. It was beautiful to drift through the mangrove tunnels with the sun casting dappled light through the leaves. The journey back in the boat was full of such mixed emotions. The excitement of the adventure ahead, the exhilaration of the speed of the boat over the water but knowing that was the last trip to the mangroves.
I took a walk along the beach wanting to make the most of the time left. I got back just in time for lunch, then had a snoozette in the hammock. I had more data entry in the afternoon – a real test of patience as the laptop wasn’t behaving and the spreadsheet would clear itself every now and again – arrgghhhh.
Another walk along the beach but this time with Pam.
Last cold shower for a while (hopefully) and then to the task of packing. As always a precision manoeuvre.
Dinner and some time in the hammock. I had found some drift wood on one of my walks along the beach and asked Fito, one of the boat captains but also a painter, to paint me a scene from the mangroves on it. He finished it tonight and it was amazing.
Before bed I lay on the pier and watched the stars. AWESOME!
Last day of the project and an early trip to San Pedro to be dropped off.
After breakfast, which this morning was coconut and banana pancakes made by Roshny, the boats were loaded up with another batch of trash, our luggage, all the staff (apart from Edgar the cook), all of the volunteers and Fritz. Klavdija, Sam, Pam and I were in Azul with Fito. We made it to San Pedro first – just. Another exhilarating boat ride in perfect weather. Sadly the last one for a while, so one to savour.
We said our goodbyes on the dock as this is where we would part company. Most people were going to Caye Caulker, apart from Kate who was going to Mexico to meet her mum, and Pam, Nik and I who were staying in San Pedro for one night before heading home or for me onwards. Klavdija took us to a friends place where the 3 of us could all bundle into one hotel room. There were no rooms free so Vic, Klavdija’s friend from Essex, said we could crash at his. By now this also included Klavdija who we had convinced to stay with us instead of returning to Sarteneja. We were all going to crash in one double room – Nik and I on sofa cushions on the floor and Klavdija and Pam on the bed.
It was carnival time which explained why there were no rooms. We headed downstairs to Lily’s restauant for lunch – BLT and salad plus lime juice for me. We were joined by Sarah and Fritz, who was dressed in a very smart new collar and lead. Pam went on a boat trip with Vic and his family and Nik and I went shopping. We all met up at Vic’s place later that afternoon.
The plan was to go to Crazy Canucks for a live jam session but first we needed to be painted up in true carnival style. There was green, cream and pink paint being dorbed everywhere and that included our faces, hair and legs. Suitably coloured we boarded Vic’s boat and cruised down the coast to the venue. We should have arrived in style but the tide was out so the boat got beached and we had to be pushed to safe moorings – much to the interest of everyone at the bar. We know how to make and entrance! And to top it off the paint hadn’t reached that part of town yet so we stood out like sore thumbs.
A few beers, a few dances and a walk along the beach (being photographed by tourists intrigued by the paint) and we set off back to Vic’s. a quick change and out to dinner at a newly refurb end restaurant. Amazing food and few rum punch. I was now officially pooped. Time for a shower, a hot shower in fresh water – my hair actually squeaked for the first time in weeks – then bed.
Last day of the project and an early trip to San Pedro to be dropped off.