Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Life on the Atoll

Life on the Atoll (20 February 2010)

We are in Belize City shopping right now in a grocery store. We are getting lots of food because we won’t see a single store for a whole week. The boat leaves in half an hour. We are too far away to walk so we have to get a taxi cab to the dock. We weave through busy streets filled with bicycles, trucks, cars and pedestrians. Then we turn onto a not so busy tree lined street and pull up to the dock. We get there just in time even though we know the boat won’t leave without us.

People load on a huge amount of gas cans, boxes, rolls of toilet paper and everyday items. Pineapples get loose and roll all over the floor of the boat. The Oceanica is our 43 foot boat which takes us 30 miles to Blackbird Caye and back. We see most of the staff and our new guests on the boat. Mr. Kent is our Captain. Wanda is our cook and some of you have skyped with her in your classroom. There is Alton who is an expert coconut open-er-upper and super fixer-upper of things. There is Rose the housekeeper and Richard the small boat captain. Security is Camille the dog. And there’s a hungry guy named Peckish who works at the nearby fishing camp.

We start off and we pass the little islands called Cayes and the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef. Sometimes there are swells when we hit blue water but today they are only 3 feet high. And there we go through Turneffe Atoll and go by lots of mangrove forests. And then we pull up to a long dock with sandy rocky beaches, a big buttonwood tree and coconut trees. Then we see cabanas on the ocean. We start hitting bumps as we head near the reef. Then we see a big palapa with a thatched roof.

We pull up to the dock and I run down the dock happy to see my island again. I startled some wish willies who are basking in the sun when I ran by. Camilla the evil munching puppy meets me with her tail which is wagging and her whole body is shaking. And it is time for teething. She lunges at me with the mouth wide open and I throw a sea grape leaf like a frisbee. Our place, the Oceanic Society owns about 50 acres of land.

I hear a RRRRRRRRRRRRRR from the generator which is the only way to get electricity until they get the solar working. If it’s not a very windy day then the mosquitoes, doctor flies and sand flies come out and bite. It looks like you have been to the doctor or need to go to one. There may be some bummers here but there’s so much more good stuff.

My favorite thing to do is to go snorkeling and fishing. Before it’s too late, we can go for a little swim. The ocean can be really warm here and you can play in it for hours without freezing. It also makes for good snorkeling but you can’t go swim at night because of the crocodiles. When I snorkel, I see thousands of fish called grunts, schoolmaster snappers, butterfly fish and yellow jack which like to hang out around our dock. After dinner, when it gets dark, my Dad and I go fishing. When it’s dark the big fish bite. We usually see two big red eyes underneath the water. We see a big body that looks like a croc. But it is only a tarpon which is a big game fish and it is like the crocodiles of the fishes. We tried to catch it but it just does not seem interested.

I spend a lot of my time homeschooling. It’s a lot like regular school but it is in your home. You also get the full attention of your parent school teachers. I do math, reading, writing and lots of other stuff like you do. I also get to learn about things that are special to me like field trips to Mayan temples for history class or my science class is about 100 yards away on the dock into the coral reef and seagrasses. And I always get to do art class by myself. You get a lot of attention by being the only kid in the class and it is also a lot of fun.

Well, that’s a day in my life at Blackbird Caye.


PS We can see both sunrises and sunsets off our little island. It is only a couple of hundred steps from one side to the other.

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