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The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for Seaside

Mad women, premonitions and manatees

Upon finding ourselves unexpectedly in a different part of Belize we mulled over our options in a spartan yet perfectly acceptable Chinese restaurant in Dangriga. The guidebook, coupled with a look around town indicated nothing to detain the passing tourist there, so we made haste to the bus staion to correct the offset in our intended location of the day.

We took the bus southwards to Placencia where we met an American woman who suggested to us that we might like to stop at the town of Hopkins en route - it indeed sounded interesting, and she seemed a little batty, but nice enough, and conveniently had a place for us to stay on the beach.

Hopkins was lovely - a very relaxed little Garifuna town on a long sandy beach. Our accomodation was fine, if rather eccentric and the owner cooked for us, which was great.

The only downside was that our host talked at us incessantly. Utterly non-stop. She didn’t converse, she just rambled endlessly, mostly about her misfortunes. It was rather tiresome at first, but provided amusment after a while.

On our last morning we had tentatively planned to take an inflatable kayak into a nearby mangrove lagoon. It didn’t look a very sturdy craft so I had slight reservations about paddling through crocodile infested waters in it, but when both Fe and I dreamt about being eaten by crocodiles we wimped out.

It was a fine still morning, so I sat on the beach and watched the sea. After some time had passed some curious lokking black lumps surfaced 100 metres offshore - manatees - the leviathan of the mangroves! We finally succumbed to the crappy kayak and paddled out to say hello (manatees are herbivores and whilst they may be able to suck us to death, I think it unlikely).

We were treated to little ugly heads bobbing up around us, blowing lightly as they surface, then fine views of their big rounded backs as they rolled, and occasionally their great big single flippered tail would pop up.

The boat was indeed a piece of junk, but who cares? We paddled with manatees!

Transportation quandries

After being abandoned at the roadside by a broken bus en-route to San Pedro Sula we were keen for an easy passage to Belize. We planned to leave Honduras on the Gulf Cruza, alledgedly a 45 passenger boat, and cross the Caribbean from Puerto Cortes to Placencia in Belize.

The Gulf Cruza was broken, but another vessel, about half the size would take us. Hmm. When that boat cried off due to insufficient passengers our only option was a even smaller boat going to Dangriga.

Now, ordinarily for a 60 mile sea crossing I’d be slightly nervous about going in an open fiberglass boat, its only safety feature being duplicated outboard engines, but we were desperate not to spend another night in Puerto Cortes or endure the long bus ride to the shorter crossing in Guatemala so threw caution to the wind and jumped in.

All went well, but I’m glad we don’t need to do that again.

It was this big…

Although we have now been lucky enough to see the largest fish in the sea (yes, we’re still going on about it!), whilst sunning ourselves in another Bay Island - Roatan, their annual fish festival took place and we were able to admire their huge catches - the biggest fish they caught was a 270 pound Blue Marlin - these are massive fish (as the weight might suggest) and have a long pointy nose (like a swordfish) - certainly wouldn’t want to have met one of those whilst diving! The thing that amazed me most about these fish was their eyes - they were bright blue, but looked like fake glass eyes, weird. Unfortunately we had left our camera at home on this occasion, so no photos - I’m sure google will provide though.

The rest of our trip to Roatan was pretty uneventful, if rather expensive - the North Americans have adopted it as a tropical resort, hence the prices have risen accordingly. We managed to save a few bob by walking to the “world’s second most beautiful beach” (according to our hotel owner) - it was lovely - white sands and crystal clear water, and definitely an improvement to Utila’s lack of beach, however it was spoilt somewhat by the large number of resorts and hotels that have been built along it. Oh how ungrateful we are in paradise!

Pictures of our whale shark

Here are some pictures of our whale shark adventure of a few days ago. We didn´t take them - a terribly nice American chap whose name I forget did and he kindly passed them on.whale-sharks-and-dolphins-005_410.jpg


Deep Sea World

We have now almost finished our stint of diving in Utila (we will have done a total of 13 dives in 6 days!) and we are now “Advanced Open Water” divers, although not sure how advanced we actually feel!

We have been very lucky in all the exciting animals that we have seen - yesterday we saw some seahorses (I requested them, and our instructor provided - he´s very impressive!). They were very cool and bigger than I thought they would be. Our second dive yesterday gave us our second highlight of our diving to date - we got to swim alongside a male Hawksbill turtle for a good ten minutes - he was amazing, and didn´t seem bothered by our presence at all - just slowly moved on his way along the coral wall.

As part of our Advanced course we got to dive a wreck, which was interesting, and a little creepy, we did a deep dive down to 30m, and also a night dive which in all honesty was a bit disappointing as it was mainly an exercise in avoiding kicking everybody else, or the coral. Don´t think I need to go diving in the dark again for a while!

Tomorrow we are heading off to another Bay Island - Roatan - for a few days before making our way to Belize.

The biggest fish in the sea…

Today was one of the most exciting days of my life.

Having been told by our instructor yesterday that ¨you´ll be very lucky to see a whale shark this time of year¨ we were very excited to come across one this morning on the way to our first ever open water dive (that makes us not only very lucky but possibly one in a million by the way!!).

The skipper was very adept at getting us in the right place to get off the boat and snorkel with this amazing animal - we saw three individuals in total - the biggest being seven metres - huge!

We managed to get in with it six times (although I missed one whilst throwing up, oops!). A couple of times we were wondering where it had got to, until we looked directly below us, and there it was - amazing!

They are quite slow moving and very pretty -  with spots all over their backs. We´re hoping to obtain pics from someone who was lucky enough to have housing for their camera (Keir you couldn´t post yours out to me could you? Hrmph, you swine!).

Chris would like to add two points - whale sharks are planktivores and therefore do not eat people. Number two, the feeding sharks attracted huge numbers of black terns, sooty terns, least terns and the occasional noddy.

None of this would have happened if it weren´t for Hurricane Felix causing upwelling and also ridding the island of tourists which meant we got on a resort boat we wouldn´t usually have been allowed on, so thanks to Felix and our bravery at staying on the island!

By the way,we also had fun on our two open water dives - saw a yellow stingray, some parrotfish and a trumpet fish. Oh and we just passed our written exam (I got 100% of course, hehe!).

Diving, exploring and relaxing in Utila

Before all the Hurricane Felix commotion we had embarked on diving instruction to gain our PADI Open Water certification. We’d spent two days learning and practising in shallow water, when we were ready to jump into the deep water the dive shop had to be shut up and packed away so we have had a couple of days to explore the island and relax (and eat the the food we’d bought to weather out the storm).

This morning we tried to walk to a bay on the north of this island, yet failed - we ended up in a mosquito ridden mangrove swamp and were forced to retreat. We are starting to learn that Utila is not an island for walking.

This afternoon we read our dive books and watched hummingbirds from the veranda - a rather beautiful species called a Green-breasted Mango frequents the feeder outside our room.

We start diving again tomorrow morning. We are in a class of two - just Fe and I - which is great. Our instructor is a terribly nice chap called Dick. You don’t meet many people called Dick these days.

Hurricane Felix is coming

As you will see from our little map, we are on the small island of Utila in the Caribbean Sea. Hurricane Felix, currently a category 5 hurricane, is forecast to come our way early on Wednesday morning. Yesterday it was forecast to hit us dead on but it looks like it will hit the Nicaraguan coast first - this is good for us, but bad for Nicaragua.

We have a great place to stay, owned by Germans, which is high up the hill, and in a sheltered valley, so we´re going to close the shutters and enjoy our books.

More news when the internet is fixed after the storm (might take a while)!

Food or Sea?

Whilst eating our lunch on a Caribbean beach, I noticed Chris had finished and was gazing longingly out to sea having finished his small portion of food (I´m sure most of you know how important food is to him). Much to my amusement I successfully guessed the dilemma he was faced with - if he went for a swim it might seem a bit rude since I was still eating, it also meant (more importantly) that he might miss out on the chance of scavenging some extra food from me. He decided to stay and this decision paid off as he was able to successfully beg some scraps from my plate!

We bothhad a very pleasant post-lunch splash around afterwards!


Our return to Honduras has brought us to the seaside town of Tela and our first Caribbean beaches, which we duly took to yesterday and in true British tradition managed to get nice and sunburnt, oops! The beach just along from the main town is beautiful - empty, palm-tree lined and the sea is as warm as a bath - all very nice and we spent a good hour splashing around and practising hand stands in the water (which I was particularly bad at).

Today we went to the Jardin Botanico Lancetilla, the second largest tropical gardens in the world apparently. It turned out to be a bit of a challenge to get to as the bus in the guidebook didn´t appear, so we attempted to rent bikes although they weren´t too safe looking (or small enough for me), so we resorted to a taxi. The park was quite nice though it was very hot (still acclimatising to the tropics). We cooled down by swimming in the river and were immediately surrounded by huge numbers of small fish who seemed to find us very interesting, although they wouldn´t let us catch them. I practised not being scared since as Chris pointed out, I will be actively seeking fish once we´re diving - hmm trying not to be too wimpy about such things. One day I shall learn braveness.

Tela also has a local weirdo who comes up to the windows of cafes/restuarants and stares at you. Creepy. We will endeavour to keep you up to date with the weirdos we meet!

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