By Steph Remion, BV Belize Volunteer, Sarteneja, Belize. Less than two weeks to go in Bacalar Chico Dive Camp (BCDC)… Belize it or not, despite living in wooden huts, washing with cold water, and having only three hours of electricity per day, time flies around here.!
Although the wind could be perceived as our enemy here, in terms of diving, it is actually considered to be our saviour by most of the volunteers… Not only does it save us from sand fly attacks, it is also the main reason for our – almost – daily visits to the mangroves, and thus our daily ‘hello’ to the manatees. But you’ve heard about our fantastic encounter already.
BCDC is a magic place where you live according to the rhythm of nature. Once the sun has disappeared behind the palm trees, stars become more and more visible… and most of us are naturally attracted outside to sit and contemplate their majestic beauty. There is no light pollution around here… The closest big lights we can see are from Xcala, this small village on the Mexican border. Silence is pretty amazing too… if you listen to it, you might hear the sound of racoons coming to the back of the camp to search for food. There may be a jaguar in the forest too… on the way back from our first bird survey at the lagoon, Samos (el capitano, who is like a fountain of knowledge) found jaguar’s poo….
Waking up in the morning is one of the most beautiful moments of the day with the sun rising out on the horizon in front of us. Think about the most beautiful postcard you’ve ever seen… well, it is BETTER than that! Imagine the sea, the peer, the mangroves, the birds, Azul (our boat) in front of you… now imagine the red colours of the sun rising… get a cup of tea or coffee, sit there, and enjoy pure beauty. That’s how our days start here!
Now wake up for real… because hard work is starting : three dives planned. “The first one will be a fish point out, the second one will be a coral point out, and the third one will be a practice for a PIT (read point intersect transect)” say the staff. It’s hard to focus when you’re diving in such a wonderful environment…. Afternoons are usually dedicated to “science classes” : in less than two weeks we learned to recognize about 50 fishes and around 40 different kinds of corals. We are now almost ready to start the surveys. In addition to this, Karen, who has never dived before, has successfully passed her open water and advanced open water. Well done all!
Did you notice that my story revolves around the natural elements? I’ve just told you about air, water and earth….so do you want a story about fire? Really? Well… every three days, the used toilet paper is burned by one of the staff members (we have an ecological sewage system which cannot be filled with toilet paper). This is probably not the best moment of the week for the staff…. except for Luigi (our night guard) who was kissed by Nikkita at the burn pit the other day… don’t get Nikkita wrong… kissing Luigi at the burn pit was the only way she could “murder” Luigi for the murder mystery game that is underway at BCDC at the moment. Although most of the team have already been murdered, there are still a few people alive, plotting and making alliances to kill each other… But hey sorry, can’t reveal any more right now, the game isn’t over yet! And night is falling… I should get to the beach to welcome the stars!