Saturday, May 19, 2012
Just another day in paradise. Woke up about 5 am, but had trouble feeling wide awake so I drank coffee in my room for a but. Had breakfast (Huevos Rancheros, at Sobre de Olas) and drank more coffee. Walked the few steps (~100 metres) to Frenchies and get my gear ready for another trip to the reef in front of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. A thought 16 lbs of lead was too much yesterday despite my being, uh, heavy ("overweight" is apt. I couldn't zip the back of my XL wetsuit). And the wetsuit was a 3 mm full suit, so I was pleased to be able to ask for "just" 14 lbs of lead today. Different group than yesterday--six in total, plus Greg as divemaster. Here we are getting ready to go in the morning sunshine: Greg is the man on dock in board shorts. First dive was nice and easy. Plenty of nurse sharks, snapper and grouper to watch. Surface interval was back in San Pedro. I walked around a bit. The new Tropic air terminal at the San Pedro airport is big--and two stories! Wow. I have not spent much time in San Pedro since a week visiting friends who lived there, back in 2001. The whole town feels larger and more crowded. For the second dive, I traded weight belts with a skinny guy who dove without any neoprene. He said he needed more than his 12 and I thought I could get by with 12 despite outweighing him by 50 lbs (and all fat) plus having the 3 mm full suit. Yes, getting confident. And justified. No problems descending. Yeah for me. A highlight early in the dive was seeing a manta ray. Only my second ever. This one was small, by manta ray standards, but still big for a ray. He left me swim fairly close (~7 metres). Wished I had my underwater camera. We saw several more nurse sharks and observed mating behavior by a group. One large female and three medium-sized males. Fun to watch. They were busy with each other and so did not seem to mind my approaching close to watch while remaining nearly motionless. Yes, my buoyancy was good today! Even when my tank finally got to 500 psi, I did not need any more weight. The safety stop was easy. I was rather proud of myself. After not diving at all since 2010, and only one 1-tank dive that whole year, I feared that my skills would be atrocious. Unusual for me, I was first on the boat after the second dive. No reason, it just worked out that way. I took the opportunity to snap a few photos of my dive buddies getting their gear off in the water and climbing back aboard: As we prepared to return to Caye Caulker, we spotted a boat with engine trouble. The crew stopped to help. Fuel line problem our skipper could fix: While he did that, we chatted with the passengers on the distressed boat: They seemed very relaxed. They were soon on their way back to the island. We soon arrived back at Caye Caulker ourselves. I took a shower in my room, then walked down to the Rainbow restaurant for lunch (snapper--tasty!). After the large meal at 3 pm I was tired and so took a nap for a couple of hours. When I woke up, I assembled my dirty laundry (not much) and took it to Marie's on middle street. I then walked about a bit, following up on my strolls yesterday but without the camera. On a seemingly deserted street someone called my name. It was Mia! Dr. Revels is the ornithologist at my University. She is in Belize with some friends from Arkansas and happened to be on Caye Caulker today to snorkel. We chatted and made plans to meet for dinner at Wish Willy. Alas, at supper time when we all met up there, it was closed. The chef, Maurice, has taken the day off to run errands in Belize City. Oh, well. Maybe next time.