Monday, May 13, 2013

Friendship (but no whale sharks) Part Two

We had a fabulous two weeks with Russ Wolf and Larry & Luke Barns in Belize. Our first night with Russ we celebrated Heather's actual birthday with cruiser friends at the Rumfish restaurant in Placencia. Luke arrived the next day on the last leg traveling all the way from Peru in January, hitchhiking some of the way. The next day his Dad Larry joined the party. We headed out to Ranguana Cay for a few days, then Wippari Cay with Walt & Honoree on "Will o' the Wisp" followed by several days anchored off South Water Cay. Lots of swimming, snorkeling, kyacking and of course eating & drinking. We then returned to Placencia the night before our big trip.
We had reserved a space with Avadon Divers 5 months ago to spend a day searching for whale sharks. One of the major spawning areas for groupers is off the western most portion of the Belize Ree, Gladden Spit, and this occurs just after the full moon in the months of April, May and June. Huge spirals of groups form up to a hundred feet under the sea and spawn. Whale sharks often gather around them to feed (not on the groupers; they are vegetarians). And divers gather to watch it all. Only a few boats at a time are allowed into the area.
This is policed carefully by the Belize Park rangers.  Each boat registered is allowed to enter twice during the day. In between you go back inside the reef to rest and have lunch. Unfortunately Luke didn't know he'd be able to come early enough to get a place. But he had a great day diving on the reef wall twice that same day with another diving outfit.
We were picked up at the town dock at 7:30am and brought out to the dive shop where we enjoyed coffee and snacks before boarding our boat to head out to the reef.
Scott was the only one of us to dive. The rest of us went along to snorkel. Sometimes the snorkelers see the whale sharks, but all we mostly saw was the divers far below in the deep blue of the ocean and their funny discus shaped bubbles rising and dissipating near the surface. We did see some big schools of fish as well. In fact no one saw the whale sharks even diving, although they did see the spawning spiral and that was cool. Not just our day but the whole season so far.
Nevertheless it was a terrific day. Russ and I
That's Heather in her snorkeling outfit holding hands with Scott
did some snorkeling during the lunch break on the shallow reef nearby and it was wonderful. And so was our lunch - fried chicken, roast potatoes and salad, followed by lots of fresh fruit.  It was at least an hour each way at full speed so we weren't back at the dive shop until after 4:30pm.
That night we were joined by Walt and Honoree, their guests Andy and Marilyn and other friends Lennie and Sue from "Winddancer" for a special dinner at "Da Barcelona Tapas Bar".  The owners Julio and
Russ poses at the bow
Angela welcomed us and it was a wonderful dinner. Angela is an amazing singer with Steve on the guitar and this was one of the 2 nights a week they perform.
The next morning was relaxing one for everyone, after the long day yesterday. We had a good walk in the morning followed by a decadent breakfast at "Da Thatch" on the beach. Of course we got some swimming in too and a little dingy exploration.
The next morning was a sad one as Russ left us to fly home. It was another great visit. Larry and Luke stayed one more night. And it was a fun one. Scott hosted a belated birthday party for Heather, including making bread and chocolate cake.
Shrimp with lots of garlic and roasted veggies

Honoree and Larry
We had the same crowd over to the boat as Sunday night, sadly without Russ - ten people for dinner, a little crowded but we all managed to fit in the cockpit, even after eating the big meal. Everyone brought something to share and it was all delicious.
Again we said our sad goodbyes to Larry and Luke the next morning.
Lennie and Sue from Winddancer

Next morning, another great meal at Da Thatch

Scott and Russ had fried dough stuffed with eggs, bacon

Our last morning all together having breakfast before Russ left
Are these guys handsome or what?
Hey Luke, you should be in there!
Scott adds in his homemade chocolate cake
And Heather's belated birthday party is in full swing
Honoree and Marilyn
Walt demos dining Roman style
Luke gets the airy bunk the last night
And Larry does his last set of dishes

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