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Snorkeling trip and nocturnal river tour

December 12, 2012

Our week on the beach is coming to an end and we've had a great time - swimming, eating fresh coconuts, reading in hammocks, digging in the sand, generally chilling out in and around our cabana, and trying local Garifuna food.  [Garifuna people are descendants of Carib, Arawak, and West African people.]  We've also been on a couple of tours - a half day snorkeling trip to Belize's barrier reef and a two-hour boat trip along the Sittee River at dusk.  We went with Happy Go Luckie Tours for both trips and they were wonderful.

Getting back to our beach after snorkeling

For the snorkeling trip, Luckie and his boat mate picked us up right outside our cabin early on Wednesday morning.  We zoomed off to Bird Caye, about thirty minutes away, where we saw frigates and brown-footed boobies.  The male frigates were puffing up their red breasts to alarming proportions.  Then we made our way to South Water Caye, where we snorkeled first from the beach and then directly from the boat.  Luckie proved to be a great guide and was really good with the girls on their first time snorkeling.  They both managed just fine.  Visibility wasn't stellar and the fish were playing a little hard to get, but we still managed to see quite a few different types of fish, including lots of rays, which were the girls' favourite.

For the river tour yesterday evening, we met Luckie at the marina, a short taxi ride from town, and he patrolled us up and down the Sittee River as the sun set and for about two hours afterwards searching out wildlife.  We all had flashlights to help us spot things, but we were all pretty hopeless other than Luckie, who managed to locate all kinds of critters (all while driving the boat too).  We saw various birds, a two-foot long baby crocodile, bats, a moth almost as big as my hand, and even a giant spider (whose eyes Luckie spotted from a few hundred feet away).  The highlight of the tour was a stop in a large lagoon, where we shut off our flashlights.  The lagoon water at first just appeared inky black. but then as we circled and looked back at our wake we could see the water shimmering and shining with an iridescent turquoise-blue colour.  We then noticed streaks of the same bright colour darting and streaking past the boat, which Luckie said were fish trails.  He encouraged us to move our hands in the water and as we did so we were able to conjure up the streaks of shiny water for ourselves.  The colourful light we were seeing comes from bioluminescent plankton in the water, which produce the light in a similar way to fireflies.

To end our stay in Hopkins, this morning we spotted some dolphins while swimming and this afternoon the girls had an hour's drumming lesson with Jabbar (whose wife, Dorothy, manages the cabanas).

It was just me and dada going swimming this morning, and as we swam further out we noticed what looked like large fish jumping.  But then we noticed that they had big fins and they were really dolphins.  They were so amazing and they were huge!


We learnt a few different rhythms on Garifuna drums made from mahogany with deer skin tied on with vines and some rubber bands acting like snares.  To make lower notes, you put your whole hand on the middle part of the drum and to make higher notes you put just your finger tips closer to the edge of the drum.