Postcards from the Ledge: Chapter 2

Greetings from de islan', mon. The weather is here. You should be, too, mon.

:-)

Well, after a fun night with Tropical Storm Arthur, we exited the house in search of something open for breakfast. We found ONE place open. As did most other people on the island. :-D It was to be a relatively quiet day (i.e., no diving or much of anything, since the planes weren't flying until late afternoon, and the water taxi had only two runs that afternoon as well). That evening we wandered about town to get dinner and discovered....crabs. Hundreds of crabs litter the island. They are actually worse in population #s than deer (only they don't hurt nearly so much when a golf cart - one of the three main modes of transportation on the island, the other two are bike and foot - hits one). See second photo. This was just a baby. We saw some that were...quite larger (for Marylanders, dinner-sized).

The next day was much nicer. Annnnnd....we were going diving! Woohoo!

We went to Long Caye and Chapel Caye, areas outside the barrier reef near these islands. I was rather concerned, esp on the first dive as this was Lisa's first ocean dive - and the waves were 4-5'! First, was she feeling intimidated by this, and once we were done, how was she going to feel about getting back into a boat tossing itself a few feet above her only to slam down again? I had some strong reservations about this dive...

As it turned out, Lisa handled herself like a trooper. Wasn't phased one bit. At either the waves, the entry (her first backroll), being underneath the water in a shifting surge, or getting back out again (the waves had "calmed" down to 3-4' by that point). We did two dives and saw a lot of stuff (corals and fish), more on the second dive than the first. Our dive master (Recardo) was spot on at navigating us back to the boat (the other two dive masters....not so much; on the second dive, they all surfaced 200' away while we were right on the anchor :-) ). I took my camera down, but most of the photos were crap. Then my camera fogged up. :-( This would be a repeat problem on every dive.

The next day (urrr, today) we went to Northern Turneffe Atoll, an hour's boat ride out from Caye Caulker. Yep, over the ocean itself. But happily, the waves were 3' and less for the most part. A little bouncy, but really, not bad.

At Turneffe I think we had 1' waves. Very calm. And the diving was....I think the best I've had or seen yet in my dive career. We did what is termed "wall dives", where we drop down and go to what is an undersea cliff - covered with corals, sponges, and all manner of reef life. Oh, yes, and fishes, mon. Tons and tons of fish, more than we could possibly identify. AND we saw a couple of sea turtles while down, a spotted eagle ray, a HUGE crab (would feed a Maryland family for a week), shrimp (appetizer sized only), and a plethora of fish including black durgons, various parrotfish, wrasses, slippery dicks, damsels, gobis, squirrel, grey angels, butterfly fish of various varieties, indigo hamlets - the list goes on and on. Some we could identify, others we have an idea about, and the rest...no clue. Too many. Brain overload.

Tried taking photos of the fish and coral before my camera fogged up again. Got a few good coral ones (those darn fish kept moving :-P ). Included are a few photos from today's second dive.

On the boat ride back, we came upon a pod of about 20 pilot whales, just casually cresting the surface. Several people lept into the water to snorkel with them while the boat circled, but eventually the whales disappeared. One of the snorkelers reported, "I last saw them heading straight down in a line, one by one, going deep."

I think we are living the Discovery Channel out here.

All in all it has been a GOOD couple of days here. And we are B-E-A-T tired. Tomorrow we are going out again - this time to Hol Chan, where we hope to see nurse sharks, more rays, and a host of other animals (not so much in the coral stuff, apparently). I'll have my camera, I'll photo what I can, but I'm not holding my breath for how well things will come out. We'll just have to see.

We have decided to abort going to Tikal due to time constraints. Tomorrow will be our last dive. Friday we have several options open to us. And if the weather holds, Saturday we are going to go to Lamanai, supposed to be the 2nd or 3rd best Mayan ruins site in the region (TIkal is #1, but we just don't have the time to deal with the logistics; so...another trip).

Hope all's well back in your worlds, mon! We be talkin' to ya at another time. If not this weekend, then next week after we are back.

Later, mon. Go slow!