For the past three days and two nights I have been wearing nothing but my swimming shorts, haven’t seen an ounce freshwater (to clean with), have been sleeping in a tent, and have done a lot of swimming. I was going to try and liken it to Glastonbury, but I see now that apart from the tent and the swimming the analogy doesn’t quite hold.
On Tuesday morning I joined 13 other people aboard the Ragga Queenfor a three day two night sailboat tour down to Placencia. They were Yenna and Anna, a couple of Danish English Majors enjoying their summer break; John and Mave an Irish couple currently residing in Belgium; Lucy and Ainsley, a couple who’d just sold up their house and were embarking upon an 11 month around the world tour inspired by what they called the 5 year itch; Tai and Chressie, an American couple from Washington State who were on a 3 week holiday in the region, notably the only 3 weeks annual leave that Tai was entitled to; Robin, and IT professional and his Polish (but you wouldn’t have guessed by the accent) partner Julietta; Jess and Charlotte a couple of Chemistry students studying at Bristol uni; and finally Jolina an American from just about everywhere. And it only took me 3 days to learn their names.
Also on board would be The Captain, simply known as Captain (although I think his name might have been Miguel); Reynolds, our guide and chef who was also affectionately known as Rasta Man despite the fact he had no hair; and finally the mischievous and yet charming Kevin who will insist the tattoo above his right breast is in fact not a lobster but a scorpion – the jury is still out on that one.
Day one was a relaxed sail to the reef with a couple of snorkel stops finally culminating in our arrival at the tiny Rendezvous Caye, an 80ft by 30 foot stretch of sand that would be our home for the night. We were camping, so before the nights festivities could begin we set up our tents in the very strong offshore breeze. Couples got their own tents so it was a matter of who drew the short straw and had to share with me from the remaining girlies. Ah, the poor Danes.
The remaining part of the evening was a rum intoxicated blur which I’m sure did involve a semi-serious conversation about immigration with Julietta, and finally after the Captain threw a bit of a mard because no one wanted to go back to the island to where he had started a fire, I jumped into the dingy with him and Charlotte who’s challenge it was to drive us there. Like the predictable pyromaniac I am I leapt at the opportunity to poke ember and burn things and amidst my excitement hadn’t realised that no one had joined me. But I was happy, I had a fire and with it warmth, light and entertainment, and I had found the captain’s special rum punch he had forgotten when building the fire. No worries.
Eventually my tropical midnight paradise (it was probably about 8 pm) was destroyed and I was joined by some of the others and with them half a galln of rum punch. Sometime between then and bedtime someone mentioned dawn, I must have set my alarm then, since I was up at five to watch a somewhat cloudy but still beautiful dawn come up from over the Atlantic to enlighten what would become a very hungover day.
Day 2 started with me being abandoned for breakfast until someone saw my feet sticking out of the tent and came back for me. More snorkeling and chatting, and a lot of keeping out of the sun since my shoulders got fried on my day trip in Caye Caulker. We arrived mid afternoon to Tobacco Caye a small island which was just about large enough to hold the five families that occupied it and the tourists that came to escape to it. I spent the rest of the day sleeping in hammocks and chilling on the beach. The evening was not quite as eventful as the one prior to it but there was a period of heavy rainfall which saw me getting soaked whilst I tried to fasten every one’s tents up. I say tents, they were all tents except mine which you’d only call a tent because it was made from tent parts – its actual use of being a place of shelter, preferably waterproof, was negligible.
Day 3 and our departure from Tobacco Caye was a little delayed because a propeller had been damaged the previous day, it meant we had no reverse and pulling up to dock was a rather tricky affair. Our final snorkel was pretty cool with lots of barracuda, angel fish, parrot fish, and even a trumpet fish. However by the time we reached Placencia I think everyone was ready for a shower and dry land. Although I did hear people saying that they were still rocking at their chairs for dinner that evening. The group stuck together and stayed at the same hostel and even managed to get together at the rather cool and funky Purple Space Monkey bar restaurant cafe for dinner.
Its just the one night here in sleepy Placencia – ‘the caye you can drive to’. This place is even smaller than Caye Caulker with just one road and what can be at best be described as an alley way or jitty running parallel to the beach. Yet despite this, I can still be offered ganja in under an hour.
Tomorrow I travel to Puerto Cortez in Honduras aboard the recently renamed Gulf Cruza (now D-Express). Yes, the former sounds like some sort of big ferry right? Nope, its more like a glorified speed boat. Should be fun!
GEEK NOTE: I should have brought a little ASUS Eee-PC with me. They’re so cool, and the abundance of wireless hot spots in this part of the world is quite surprising. I met a Finnish guy in Placencia with one. Very jealous. It’d also make writing these things a lot more convenient!