May 24, 2011
This morning, being the intelligent and frugal college student that I am, I decided to eat my granola for breakfast. But because it was a stubborn packet I had to use a brand spanking new sharp pocket knife to open it… Needless to say I succeeded in opening the packet and a portion of my finger (moral of this story, even when being super careful you never know what a pocket knife might do… those things have a mind of their own). After eating (and thoroughly enjoying my hard earned granola) Alice and I made our way to join the rest of the group at the Dive Shop where we would be leaving to go snorkeling.
We ended up snorkeling in one of the Cayes off of Placenica’s coast. After about a thirty minute boat ride out on the boat The Great White, during which we saw: flying fish, mangroves, little cayes, and a sky of blue and a sea of green (but no submarine). We reached one of the most pristine looking places I have ever seen, also known as Laughingbird Caye National Park (which is a World Heritage site named after the Laughingbirds which nest on it). It literally looked like we’d stepped into a postcard with the turquoise ocean the white sand and big waving palm trees against a brilliantly blue and crystal clear sky. Absolutely breathtaking. And the day was only just beginning; we hopped out of the boat and into the water. Wading up to the beach made the picture a reality. We really were HERE.
We divided up in two groups and started snorkeling. Now to be honest, whenever I have attempted snorkeling I have failed miserably (swallowing practically half the ocean) but today was different… in that it was successful and an utterly incredible experience (like every day has been in Belize). We all managed to get out into the water and successfully put on masks and fins. I was aided in the swimming efforts by a life vest (so that the snorkeling would be more about the experience of seeing than that of swimming). We started snorkeling and an entire world opened up beneath us, pristine coral reefs and schools of fishies. There was brain coral with Christmas tree worms sticking out of it (and these worms would disappear of a jet of water came to close to them, so Rico our guide had fun making the worms disappear). We saw gray angelfish (which were way bigger than I thought they would be), four eyed angelfish, parrot fish, and many others which I currently cannot remember. The coral was deep purples with some oranges thrown in and giant lobsters hid in between the corals (the sea water really helped with my pocket knife cut which was an added bonus). Lisa told the group that kissing a hairy sea cucumber would guarantee that person 7 years good luck (I think someone took her up on that, though I can’t remember who). We ended our snorkel session and had a delicious lunch of BBQ chicken, watermelon, coleslaw and potatoes.
After lunch we had some time to wander around the island and do whatever. Some people hopped right back into the water and others enjoyed lounging in the hammocks. But we were all taking in the view, which was definitely reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean (Why is the rum gone? –Jack Sparrow). People took loads of pictures, and then we went back for more snorkeling (the groups switching locations). This time was a bit easier (though towards the end my breathing through the snorkel sounded an awful lot like Darth Vader’s breathing which was definitely eerie). We saw much of the same critters we saw earlier as well as a trumpet fish and a squid thingy. It was really really cool. The reefs were closer to the surface here and we were able to get pretty close to them. When we were done we hung out in the water until we had to return.
On the boat ride back, the crew cranked up some tunes (all of which had been Reggae-fied, including one that resembled the song “Yeah”). Our group went our separate ways for dinner and evening activities. Lisa, Alice, Sarah, Dan and I went for a lovely walk to the edge of the beach and were able to enjoy the tail end of the sunset.
All in all it was a FANTASTIC day.
Just keep swimming
ENST & Archaeology double major
USC Dornsife College ’14
Photos by Sarah Wescott