By Paulina Krzysik, Blue Ventures volunteer, Belize
B for Belize: country that has become our home for 6 weeks. B is for a beautiful and rich culture, scenic nature and a deep history. The country that has the second-longest barrier reef in the world. This is the place to be if you are looking for either a relaxing holiday or an exciting adventure. It may sound cheesy but it’s true!
A for Azul: the proud name of our boat that brought us diving every day. The boat that bravely fought the waves to bring us every day to our diving sites. One time, at 6 o’clock in the morning, when the water was very rough, Captain Samos sang to enchant the sea, calming it. He sang a sea shanty about the sea and love; a unique experience.
C for Camp: cast away in a remote place somewhere at the end of the world; well, at least at the end of Belize. We lived there, we sunbathed there, we dove, we laughed, we partied and we did our scientific research. There is a big wooden log in the middle of the beach camp where I carved my name. With this, I’ll be always there.
A for Advance Open Water – yes, I did my course and got another diving level cert. If you’ve never been diving before or if you want to do a dive master course, the Belizean coral reef is the perfect place. You will be amazed with the abundance of life and with its beauty. You will always want to return there!
L for Lionfish: a bad, bad fish! You’ll learn a lot about this invasive specie that has arrived in the Caribbean only a few years ago. It’s a threat to many other fish and it the upsets the ecological balance of the coral reef. However, the meat of the lionfish is so tasty. Yum!
A for Atmosphere: you have to feel it yourself. The sun, the beach, the people, the community, integrating, learning fish and coral species, diving, making jokes… unforgettable!
R for Rum: yes, we did drink some alcohol but never before diving! Coconut rum ought to be consumed at the party that takes place at the end of each week; enough so that it makes people happy and bonds them strongly.
C for Common Room: self explanatory. The heart of the camp: our dining room, the game room and the class room. We spent a lot of time there, day and night.
H for Heroes & Villains: everyone wants to be a hero but who wants to be a villain? You simply get a nomination from the group! If you do something awesome you get to win the hero title, and if you do something unacceptable you become a villain. An example of the latter: shooting friends with a water gun or not knowing how to get from point A to point B.
I for Invertebrates: Defined as an animal without a backbone. For us, we go diving and look around for these animals: lobsters, conch, sea urchins, flamingo tongue (snail specie) and others. Every animal you notice you write down on your diving slate. After the dive you have to enter your data into a spreadsheet. All of the data will soon be compiled by Blue Venture for the annual report of the MBRS (Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.)
C for Circle of Love: don’t be deceived by the name! This in an important part of the buddy check just before diving. For safety reasons you need to close down (shut down?) the scuba tank before you get on a boat.
O for Orange Tang: you always find this drink on the table at every meal.
D for Diving: who doesn’t love it?! One of the main reasons we all came to Belize. This is a hobby, this is a passion, this is a path to follow…
I for Inspiring: what inspires you? Who motivates you? People who take studies in marine biology and dedicate their work to make the marine world a better place? People who take a break from work or school and spend their spare time to monitor the health of a reef? You could be one of us.
V for Volunteer: me and others, all of us together, the group of volunteers working together to understand how important the oceans are, how important the coral reef is for the local community and the country. Volunteers gather data about the coral reef and support the local community with its effort to protect it. The satisfaction of this work… I’m telling you!
I for Insects: let’s be honest, there is always a downside about every place, even in a paradise such as our dive camp. In this case, insects are it; annoying mosquitoes and sand flies craving your blood.
N for Nachos: the snack made of fried corn tortillas covered with melted cheddar cheese and pickled jalapeño peppers. Watch out! The jalapeño peppers can be really, really spicy.
G for Generator: it has the vital role of providing us with the 3hours of electricity daily. You think it’s not enough? It’s plenty of time to charge your underwater camera and iPod. Otherwise you spend most of the time under the sun or moonlight.
C for Coconut: you just go to a palm tree and pick up a coconut. Then cut a hole with a machete and taste the fresh coconut water straight out of the fruit. Refreshing indeed!
A for Activities: you can enjoy plenty of them in you spare time. There is volleyball, snorkelling, yoga, working out, raking the beach, helping in the kitchen, reading a book, playing cards with friends, sleeping in a hammock… have I missed anything?
M for Megafauna: who doesn’t dream to see a shark, a manatee, a sting ray or an endangered turtle in their natural environment? Or maybe you fancy playing with dolphins? If you do – just go to BCDC!
P for Paulina: my name. I’m Polish and I’m happy I embarked on the amazing adventure with Blue Venture on Expedition 16. Thanks for everything! The rest is history!
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