This is a series of posts about Belize that starts here.
We sat in the sand under a shade tree enjoying our lunch break before more snorkeling.
Here’s something I never knew about snorkeling: it is very dehydrating. There are lots of articles about it; it’s something about the lack of gravity when you’re in the water, apparently. Whatever the case, the public toilet on the island was half a mile off, so we all started pretending we couldn’t get enough of the water, wading in and saying things like, “Ooh, I just can’t stay away from of this beautiful water!” What else could we do?
Emily and I had become pals. We had both lived and worked or gone to school in other countries. We lived in the same neighborhood now. And we had both been observing the martyrdom, endless list of food restrictions, and other “interesting” behavior of our fellow tour members.
“Do you have any gluten-free options?” asked Joan as the pulled-pork sandwiches were being handed out. Lincoln, our boat captain, smiled and shook his head no. Joan sat back in the shade, her arm still in a makeshift sling from her fall the first day. She didn’t say, “I’ll just go hungry then,” but she didn’t need to; it was all in her body language. Neither she nor Liz had gone in the water. This wasn’t surprising about Joan, who was stick-thin and sickly looking and had fibromyalgia. But Liz was in good shape.
“Ah just didn’t feel lahk it,” she drawled. If she was hoping we would ask her to explain why, she was disappointed.
The rest of us really couldn’t wait to get back in. As we were putt-putting out to the reef area, I spoke with Vanessa, our guide.
Vanessa had finished two years of college to become an English teacher. Then she got this summer job as a snorkeling guide and she never went back. I can’t say I blame her. When she said she missed writing, I suggested she could write a blog about snorkeling and she liked that idea. I hope she does it.
We approached a boat where fishermen were cleaning their catch of conches and throwing the leftover scraps into the sea.
We jumped in, and almost immediately I said into my mask, “That looks like a turtle!” only it sounded like, “Flaploogglaga blurpple!”
And it was a turtle, an old Loggerhead about five feet from snout to tail. This is not “our” turtle but it’ll give you an idea of what she looked like.
She reminded me of my son’s ancient dinosaur-like dog, Willie, without the purple bandana.
Then there were the rays—Eagle rays and Spotted Rays—also as long as I was tall, also prehistoric looking, also a photo stolen off the web.
I wish I could say I took these photos, but as you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I take terrible photos above water, never mind below water.
But other people in my group had Go-Pros and water proof cameras.
Here I am, looking like a scene out of Jaws:
Lincoln and Vanessa kept calling out, “Over here! There’s a lobster / Garfish / Lionfish / Clownfish! Everyone would swim after them to have a look. Everyone but me. I reached an area where the sea floor must have been 30 feet below me but the water was so clear it felt like I was suspended in air. Suddenly I felt panic that I would plummet to the bottom. That passed and I just floated meditatively. Doing nothing, going nowhere. No To-Do list. I caught myself thinking, “I can’t wait to do this again!” then laughed at myself and focused on the fact that I was there, in heaven, right now.
The meditative mood stayed with me for the rest of the evening. Walking back to Jeanie’s, we were passed by a teenage boy on a tuk tuk—a motor scooter—with a fat baby balanced on the handle bars. The baby was laughing with delight as the scooter bucked up and down over the potholes. I vowed to be more like a baby—unafraid, in the moment, joyful.