Mexico was now behind me. A shuttle ride to Belize City and then a water taxi to Caye Caulker, I was now in paradise. Belize is a small country situated just below Mexico on the eastern coast of the continent. It neighbours Guatemala on its western border meaning the anglophone country also has high-levels of hispanophones. The country is home to the second biggest coral reef and also the healthiest. Among it, there are a number of small atolls and islands.
Caye Caulker is an island amongst the many keys home to around 3,000 inhabitants. Its size only allows for golf carts and bikes as modes of transportation making for a relaxed vibe. I was there to obtain my diving certification. I had always wanted to do so, and my mother as well. It gave us the perfect opportunity to meet up and spend some time close to the blue seas and sky.
We started our week of diving by heading to Frenchie’s diving center. We completed our online portion that same day and met with our instructor Sam. He was great! Very patient, very easy to understand and accompanied us every step of the way.
The next few days, we dove at the local reef. Even if we were still in learning mode, it was great to see the variety of fish, sharks, coral, crabs and lobsters! As Belize has the healthiest coral reef in the world, the view is unlike any other. Corals like bushes, sponges, twigs, hair, flowers and tubes make up the scenery, all in a variety of dazzling colours.
As we then had completed our certification, we headed off right the next day for a bumpy two-hour boat ride to the UNESCO site of the Blue Hole. With our Open Water certification, we could dive to 18 meters with a maximum of 40 meters for all recreational divers. Seeing how much more there was to explore down the hole made me want to complete the Advanced certification! We still had the chance to see the walls of the hole with its stalactites and to observe the sheer massiveness of this geological site.
After a second dive at the reef situated close to the site, we had lunch at Half Moon Caye, a protected UNESCO natural site. There, we could walk on the island to see hermit crabs and red-footed boobies! We finished lunch, went on our final dive for the day, and celebrated our accomplishment by drinking rum punch with good music on our way back.
After a day of rest, we had a final dive near the close-by San Pedro key. We dove amongst reef canyons and had fun swimming with the sharks. It all made me want to start underwater photography!
As our time in Caye Caulker came to an end, I can say it was the perfect week for my mom and I. We got the chance to catch up at the many sunset bars and cook together again. We biked around town where the rain had created big pools and which became the perfect place for my mom to go head first while on her bike (the event was met with lots of laughter). We also took some time to visit the local animal shelter run by Kenny who offers a safe sanctuary to street animals in his no-kill shelter.
After all that was done, we packed our bags and headed inland to go inside the jungle! Stay tuned for Belize: Part 2