Belize Week 12: 28.01.2013 – 03.02.2013 Monday:- Early start this morning. It was really windy but we still went out on the bird survey through forest behind camp. We went as far as the jetty, which was through the usual stinky mangrove mud, and then back along the beach path. Every now and again we stopped for the timed point surveys – I even got to name one of the new survey sites “Crooked Tree”. Most birds flew past so
Week 12: 28.01.2013 – 03.02.2013
Early start this morning. It was really windy but we still went out on the bird survey through forest behind camp. We went as far as the jetty, which was through the usual stinky mangrove mud, and then back along the beach path.
Every now and again we stopped for the timed point surveys – I even got to name one of the new survey sites “Crooked Tree”. Most birds flew past so quickly but we managed to identify a few. In one area, which sadly wasnt one of the surveys, we saw so many Orioles pulling at the dried palm leaves, probably to make a nest. A brightly coloured woodpecker and cinnamon hummingbird made an appearance too.
Back to camp for a quick breakfast before heading into San Pedro. I had arrived a week before the other volunteers and so needed to extend my visa at San Pedro. It was a 2 hr boat ride into the town. The weather was fantastic and the boat rides are such fun – I seem to have overcome my motion sickness which is such a bonus. It was just me, Sarah and Klavdija. We arranged to meet later for lunch and I headed off in the direction of the Visa office for a visa extension. What a fun process that is. A row of offices. I entered the first one and asked if its the visa office. A shaking head and pointing to the next office was the answer. Next office – still next door!! Third office – hooray. After being asked questions about why I’m staying longer than 30 days I was given a tiny slip of paper and had to go back to office 1 to pay my 50 bucks. Now back to office 3 to get the official stamp in my passport.
A quick stop at the biggest department in town – sounds MUCH grander that it was. I eventually made it to Fido’s restaurant to meet Klavdija and Sarah. Fab meal – salad, chips, fish, and calamari – which I split with Klavdija. A few stops at the pharmacy, Greenhouse, and design shop for laminates then the grocery store. I had a list of things from the others and only 5 minutes to do a quick supermarket dash. We loaded the boat with all the stuff and headed back.
We got back a little late so I missed the bird survey – I had a cheeky afternoon off, which was well needed.
Dinner and and more card games and bed.
I didn’t sleep well the sand fly bites were not giving any let up so I really wasn’t ready for an early start and manatee monitoring. It was a windy but beautiful morning. We only saw the nose of one manatee but many little blue herons leaving their roost from the previous night.
Breakfast was fab. New bananas, granola and jam
Snorkelling off rocky point. Near the surge of the reef. Fabulous corals, Eagel Ray, caribbean round stingray with no tail, French angelfish, 4 x squid. Drifted into the shore which had a beach with so many beautiful pieces of coral which storms damaged. Loads of trash too. Back onto boat – snoozed in the sun during next snorkel at barracuda patch.
Shower and hair wash – so lovely to feel relatively clean using the brackish water. Lunch as always was very welcome.
I was on Boat Marshall duties today so readied the boat for a 4 and a half hour bird surveys. We were aiming to get 8 point surveys done but due to a temperamental boat, a heavy shower and a lack of birds we only managed 4 before heading back. It was dark by the time we moored up but we had a treat – there were so many bright green phosphorescent jellyfish in water – amazing.
Dinner was extra special as I cracked out some of the biscuits I bought in San Pedro. The evening was topped off with a beer (wine for the others) in the cabin with Klavdija, Nik, and Pam whilst the others watched part of the Hobbit on Alice’s laptop. We were all in bed for around 9. Life is so different here.
I took an antihistamine to help with the itching and slept like a baby.
We all got to have a lie in today – it was party night tonight and the staff were being kind to us.
Got up just after 7. Boat Marshall duties again for the first boat trip of the day. Still had a moment to sit on the pier before breakfast. Extra raisins added to the oats today – another treat from my San Pedro trip. Breakfast just gets better and better.
Into the boat for manatee monitoring at Manatee Hole . We saw what we think were two manatees – one big one. Klavdija and Kelsey got in the water but those crafty manatees moved to wherever the intrepid snorkels were not. In the end we moved on and sought sanctuary in the shade before a quick dip in the mangroves. The journey back was AWESOME. 2 turtles, a sea snake and then first one dolphin, then two, then three – one with a nick in the dorsal fin.
And they were playful. They swam around and under the boat and gave us some fabulous entertainment for 30 minutes. Back just in time for lunch, download my dolphin photos and videos, write up my boat Marshall data and out again for snorkelling trash collection at 7 Holes.
Not my favourite task. There was so much trash caught in this mangrove dead end and the water was pretty scummy. We collected a huge bag of rubbish including, I kid you not, a car bumper. How the hell did that get there??? The water was cloudy and full of stinging hydroids – we didn’t stay long. No dolphins on the way back but Desi did play a trick on me. He hid my dry bag and said it had blown overboard – he had me going for a while but soon returned it. Very funny – I’ll get you back captain Desi.
Emptied the boat and whilst most of the others went on the dusk bird survey I had the afternoon to myself.
Party night was relatively quiet and we all ended up on the pier to watch the stars and crack open a beer that had been washed up on the shore – from the best before date we estimated it was probably about 4 years old. It was Heineken and tasted like shandy.
By 11:30 I was bushed and went to bed. I was in a really deep sleep when I was roused by the sound of “happy birthday” drifting into my dream. It was 12:30am and Klavdija and Pam had baked me a late night cake and everyone came into the hut to wish me a happy birthday. I was a bit spaced out from being woken but I blew out the lighter (there were no candles) and made a wish. We all piled into the classroom and ate choccy cake. Delicious and such a great way to see in my birthday. Back to bed.
It’s my birthday!!
We were off to San Pedro today. The boat was leaving at 8 so having slept in I got dressed quickly and headed for breakfast. I got birthday hugs from everyone.
We took a different route this time. Over the reef through a natural cut. The waves were huge and powerful but after a few hairy moments when it felt like the boat was mid air we made it due to some awesome driving. The route was quicker and more interesting as there were more huts along the beach. The huts became bungalows, which became houses, which became hotels and then resorts and then San Pedro. The weather was fabulous.
We arrived at 9:30 and were dropped off at one of the many jetties. We would be leaving around 4 so we had quite a few hours to spend at our leisure.
First stop was the Visa office for Pam and Nik. They received a much warmer welcome as the guy was in a better mood – not any quicker though! Whilst we were waiting the others joined us and everyone got the all important stamp in their passport.
Next stop to Licks. A restaurant with free wifi. We had a short time there to pick up messages and texts and to have a well needed cold drink – lime juice. It may seem an odd thing to say but we got to use proper restrooms – soap dispensers and paper towels AND a full length mirror to check the state of our hair, tan, bites and bruises.
We walked along the beach and then along the main road to find the jewellery and art shop. We spent a good hour browsing the fabulous art – the prices made me realise just what a good deal I got in Sarteneja. Similar paintings were 3 or 4 times as much. Lunch at Fido’s – strangely both Nik and I went for the traditional belizean lunch with fish. Next stop the jewellery shop. I managed to find a small pair of hoop earrings. Hopefully these will last longer than the pair I bought in the states – one lost in the boat and one lost on the each within a week of arriving at the camp. I also bought a couple of lengths of cord to make jewellery. The girls in the shop showed me how to tie the slip knots to make the necklace adjustable. We headed to the Greenhouse to stock up on bananas and presents for Kate and Klavdija’s birthdays.
We met the others at one of the jetties and had a quick dip and a birthday beer before heading to the dock to catch the boat. Everything was loaded. We’d brought the rubbish collected from the mangroves with us and now this had been disposed of there was room for all the fuel and provisions.
It took nearly 2 hours to get back and so it was dark when the hut lights came into view. With all of us helping we soon unloaded and sat down to dinner.
It had been quite a day so everyone hit their huts early and turned in.
Pinch punch first day of the month!
There is no way it’s 5:30 already – my first thought of the day.
Bird survey at 6am and I was boat Marshall again. Just to top it off it was raining!!! I got the boat stuff together grabbed binoculars and we were off to the mangroves for dawn. Not for long though. 7 minutes into the survey and the heavens opened and it looked like it was in for the duration.
Soaked and a tad despondent we returned to camp, had breakfast and took to our huts. A few hours of wonderful damp laziness followed, then lunch, more laziness, and a manatee lecture. Then …….some excitement. A boat carrying the coast guard, police, and army arrived, WITH GUNS. They were looking for beach walkers – the last visit had been covert as they were looking for John McAfee and beach walkers. Beach walkers are paid to do just that – walk the beach when they get a tip off that drugs have had to be thrown overboard to avoid detention. Apparently on the previous outing had successfully shot all the known beach walkers. Since that day none had passed by Bacalar Chico. It also meant that the locals from Sarteneja where the ones finding any stash. This would explain why some houses were much grander than others and the owners were driving expensive cars!!!!
The coast guard left and laziness swept through us again. I did do my Alcove chores (putting away the dive and snorkel equipment) swept the hut, walked the beach finding some sea beans for Nik to add to her home made necklace and read in the hammock but that’s about it until dinner. It was so windy.
Dinner was fabulous pasta with CHEESE!! (and watermelon)
The evening was spent with Klavdija, Pam, Roshny, and Nik. We drank beer/wine, ate chocolate and generally put the world to rights.
Beep, beep, beep – 5:30! Bird survey and boat Marshall again. But then again……it’s way too windy. Survey cancelled. Hoo-ray!!!! Back to bed for a couple of hours. Before breakfast I did some laundry and swept the classroom. Today we changed chores. Pam and I were now on toilet cleaning duties!!!!
At 9:30 we went out on manatee mapping – I took on boat Marshall duties as I’d skipped it earlier. We saw manatees and not just in the usual place of Manatee Hole, but in the shallows of Dusky Lagoon. A 3 meter manatee. Fito followed in the boat using the pole like a punt, so the boat was silent, but it found a cut in the mangroves and gave us the slip. Back in time for lunch not that. Had much of an appetite today – I think that not getting proper exercise is getting to me.
Toilet cleaning duties which Pam and I completely embraced. Never have the BV toilets been so clean (Mum you’d be proud of me – but I did have to laugh when Pam said she wished she had some limescale remover). I’ll leave it to your imagination what the task involves but there are 8 men and 6 women using them. In Belize the used toilet paper goes in a bin not down the toilet. The bins needed emptying too!!!!!!
Time to chill and dodge the occasional rain shower then out for a dolphin survey. This is new to BV and so thing Klavdija is trialling as dolphin sightings are becoming more frequent. The sea was rough and we journeyed beyond the reef through the cuts. THERE!!! I spotted a dolphin in the waves. It hung around a while then was gone. We patrolled up and down the shoreline but nothing. Back to base to seek the sanctuary of the fly net – sadly not before getting bitten to pieces in the hammock.
A few games of spoons (4 of a kind) before dinner which included not one but two kinds of cake. Back to the hut with Klavdija and Pam for an evening of chit chat then bed.
Bird survey again this morning but once again the weather was not in our favour and it was cancelled. Back to bed for a snooze which never makes me feel very alert.
It was Kate’s birthday today so we all went into her hut and sang happy birthday – maybe not the most flattering version though. Breakfast followed then manatee surveying swiftly after. We were out for a couple of hours. First checking out dusky lagoon, where we drew a blank, then to manatee hole. There were three. But we were not alone this morning. A boat full of tourists but despite their noisy engine the manatees stayed. The coast guard went by too. A large boat, which did not observe the “slow down for manatees sign”, with 8 officially dressed men.
Back in time for lunch and then out again for dolphin survey – no joy here either.
Today is the first day I have no real appetite for food or doing anything. The days are becoming routine and the weather doesn’t make progress very easy. We have a week to go and I’m ready to move on. I need to exercise and I need some different stimulation. Lets hope I’m more motivated tomorrow.
Well, there’s a turn up. Just been asked if I’d like a trip to San Pedro. My prayer was answered. Tomorrow is looking up.
Dinner and Weh Di Gwan. I’m boat Marshall for early morning bird survey!