The past five days didn’t start out this way.
I mean Rose and I didn’t sit down and agree to try some different things now that we’re back on Ambergris Caye and in our new home.
This just the way things turned out – without even thinking about it we were trying our hand at late-night barbecue, stand-up paddling, snorkeling, a poker run, roasting coffee ….
It all started with me jumping off the end of the pier while Rose was next door brushing up on her painting skills. I’m going to say that was last Wednesday. You know how island time blurs.
(Editor’s note: Just informed that it was Thursday. Ha. Ha. Still in the heat makes me stupid mode, I guess. . .)
Some of our neighbors had gathered at Gail Neal’s condo next door to continue practicing the painting skills they’ve learned in Belizean Melody’s Thursday afternoon “lushes with brushes” painting sessions.
Meanwhile, I figured that it was a good time to break in the new snorkeling gear, while the sun was still out, the wind was low and the water fairly calm. Just the day before, I watched our neighbor, Crystal, snorkeling with a spear just off the end of the pier. In a matter of minutes she snagged a nice lion fish for dinner.
So, I geared up and dropped in the next afternoon.
The water is shallow and the bottom is mostly sea grass but when the lighting is right, it can look exquisite. I had this odd sensation that I wasn’t swimming so much as squeezing through a very narrow crease, between the tips of the grass and the top of the water.
There were a few fish around but they were months away from the frying pan, if you know what I mean.
The water had something of an amber hue to it. I think this might have had something to do with the unusually high amount of sargassum — the smelly brown-red macroalgae — that has floated on to our shores this year. It was piled so thick in the shallows that, from the air, you’d think the island had gained a fifth its size overnight.
We’ve only gone on a couple of organized snorkeling trips since arriving here. Of course, we want more. We want webs between our fingers and toes. Our thinking is: If we have our own gear, we’d be more likely to go more often. Well, this was a first plunge in that direction. Let’s hope for more.
Which makes me wonder: Do any local dive shops have frequent-snorkeler punch cards, like coffee shops do? You know, your 10th one is free …. anyone?
So I paddled back and forth, up and down, photographing the shimmering grass and little fish.
Gifted with an out-of-control imagination, I kept hoping for a modest size and friendly shark or stingray or …. or sea monster. Wait. In three feet of water? OK, would a stingray or eel have been too much? I don’t think so.
I might be better at photographing fish than spearing them. I’m not sure. But should the time come, I do know how to fillet them. That’s one of those things my dad taught me early in life.
The gear felt great. I can’t wait until the next time though, admittedly, the snorkeling around the docks is small potatoes compared to being out in the barrier reef. Too far to swim out to – and too much water taxi traffic to cross if I could – but the reef is easily accessible in a kayak.
Plenty of people here think nothing of jumping into a kayak and paddling out there on a reasonably calm day. Just secure the boat to an ankle or a buoy and snorkel around.
Rose and I have decided to give each other diving certifications for Christmas, so that is another bucket item still on the list!
More immediate is Rose’s birthday, Sept. 7. We’ll be snorkeling at the Blue Hole for her birthday with Amigos Del Mar. (Thank you, 2014 Lobster Fest grand prize!) but I still need to come up with a decent gift for the girl who already has paradise in her hip pocket.
Next up on Things We Don’t Normally Do: What’s SUP!