Monday, April 14, 2014

Belize, Part IV

OK, this is the post you've been waiting for! It was hard for me to narrow down the photos and commentary on this one, so it's a bit lengthy...

Part IV:  Flora and Fauna (including underwater)

Ambergris Caye is known for its diving and snorkeling excursions. The thing to do is get a guide with a boat, get up early, and head to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley.

That's exactly what we did one morning; we beat the crowds and spent a couple glorious hours swimming with sea turtles, rays, nurse sharks, moray eels, barracuda, and lots of other fish. Our friends were the ones with the underwater camera, so all underwater photos are thanks to K and M:

I should mention that they dove, we snorkeled, so some of the photos are from their dives. I was not this far underwater. I am very happy on the surface, thank you very much.

Besides, there was plenty going on near the surface when the guys in the boat started throwing chum in the water.

(I'm in the black suit with the white spots!)
(Ted's the one shivering with his hands tucked in his armpits...)

So that was awesome. It's a little hard to tell with all those fish in the way, but that shark was a good 10 feet long. There were other, smaller, nurse sharks on the bottom. I even got to "pet" one on its belly. I also dove down to pet the rays a couple times. The shark was sandpaper-y; the rays felt more slimy.

The sharks and rays were cool, but I especially enjoyed swimming through the coral reef and seeing the variety of life there. 

And here's a quick video of the very first thing I saw when I jumped into the water:

This is a "baby" sea turtle. The mama was nearby, and she was MUCH bigger.

Again, I wish I had had an underwater camera, but many of the things we saw just wouldn't be the same through pictures. For me, the Top 3 Sightings were:
    1. an eagle ray - about a meter and a half 'wingspan', and it swam right under me as we crossed an underwater "canyon"
    2. a moray eel - our guide got him all riled up and he swam out of his hole; it was like a green ribbon in the water
    3. sea turtles - we saw a mama and a baby, and I could have just watched them eat turtle grass for an hour
K got a picture of the eagle ray from a distance. 

In addition to the ocean life, there is plenty going on above the surface. It was warm and a little humid, which meant lots of lush and LARGE plants. 

I really liked the "fan palms":

I also liked the all the birds and lizards that we saw - often in our own backyard:

We took a jungle tour from Placencia (to see jaguar, but alas, we saw none). Our guide, Doyle, told us about many of the plants in Cockscomb Basin, though, and he even had us eat a few. 

Here's Doyle, telling us about his grandma's tamales, because this plant's leaves
remind him of banana leaves, which in turn reminded him of grandma's cooking.

On our tour we saw a red rump tarantula:

This is not my photo. I got it off the internet, as I quietly freaked out.
If you dislike spiders even a little,
do NOT type 'tarantula' into a Google images search.

On that same jungle tour we tubed down a lazy river through the jungle and enjoyed the peace and quiet. I worried about getting sunburned since we were exposed for about an hour, but luckily our sunblock did its job!

Photo courtesy of M and her waterproof camera

At the end of the river we hiked to a waterfall and then slid down several natural rock slides. It was a little unsettling, as our guide had very specific instructions about how to do each slide without getting injured. In the end, we made it out with only a few bumps and scrapes and had a great time doing it.

We swam through the waterfall, and M took some photos in the cave behind it. The water was fresh and drinkable.

So there you have it - a glimpse into our Spring Break in Belize! There might be one more post of photos that were left out but seem worthy of the blog. For now, I just want to get this posted since it's been in the "Edit" phase for about a week now!


  1. Not too lengthy at all. I could have used more flora and fauna pictures, and of course, more water pictures. Don't you love the feel of the stingrays? The feel like Dairy Queen ice cream tastes!

  2. Geez, I'd never let a string ray near my face; I've seen the big hole that they can put into an unsuspecting surfer's foot!