We last emailed you from Belize City at the conclusion of a canoe trip through the northern Belizean islands, which was limited only by our canoe's inability to function well in the wind and waves common at the outer reef where the snorkeling is best.
Unsure what to do next, we drove down into central Belize checking areas we'd heard about. We hiked in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, canoed local streams, and camped on the beach in Placencia, a town popular among cruising sailors. It was all great, but again short on snorkeling. So we looked for a larger boat.
We lucked out in Stann Creek Town, also known as Dangriga. A Belizean fellow named Junior rented us "Li'l Hang Man" for two weeks. Li'l Hang Man is a small, stable boat with a 15-horse motor. The boat came with free use of its namesake, Hang Man Caye, which Junior happens to own!
Thus began a fortnight of intensive snorkeling in the crystalline, bio-rich waters lying off and south of Dangriga. The area is scattered with dozens of tiny cayes (islands) formed by coral growing up from the bottom, which is typically 30-60 feet deep. The islands are low and mangrove-covered above sea level, tall and steep below sea-level. Some are shaped like rings, with deep lagoons in the middle. Dozens more are "almost-islands", that is, coral-formed underwater hills that don't quite reach sea-level but which offer the same magnificent diving. We saw lots of spotted eagle rays, nursing sharks, lobsters, moray eels, tarpon (behemoths that appear to be sculpted from highly polished stainless steel) and even squid! And let us not forget the many, many species of small niche-dwelling fish, mollusks, and crustaceans that contribute so much of the reefs' color and personality, nor the several species of corals themselves, nor the many wonderful anenomes, sponges, and seaweeds. We rarely know their names, but we cherish them all. The highlight came on the last day, when we stopped our boat next to eight dolphins, jumped in, and swam with them a while. Our new friend were relaxed, playful, and mildly curious. Ginny didn't sleep well that night, she was on a dolphin high.
Having somewhat reluctantly returned the boat we drove back to Corozal, in northern Belize, where we made friends before. We are now looking into the feasibility of fixing up a sailboat and using it for a while, with the blessings of the American couple that own it but lack time to sail it. Or maybe we'll find something nicer over the internet and buy it, which could involve a return to the States.