by Chris Miller, Blue Ventures volunteer, Belize
We are two weeks into our expedition here in Belize and so far have already experienced one of the best celebrations in Sarteneja – the Easter Regatta. To celebrate the regatta we had a stall in the town alongside SACD (Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development) to promote the work that Blue Ventures does to help the local community and conserve the reef. The stall ran two activities aimed at children; the first, a workshop showing how to make kites out of recycled newspaper and palm tree leaves; the second, a game that involved throwing rubbish picked up from the area into a hoop. Many children came to have a go and a lot of the locals took great interest in us and what the organisation does.
After our first week in Sarteneja doing lectures and learning about the reef and conservation methods we were ready to leave our homestays and head off to the Bacalar Chico dive camp. Due to the number of us we had to make two boat trips to get everyone there, the first leaving in the morning and the second early afternoon. The first boat trip went well and they managed to arrive on time to set up camp. The second boat trip was not as uneventful due the engine breaking down in the middle of the sea. The coast guard were then called from the satellite phone and within half an hour they were with the boat ready to begin the tow. Eventually after a much prolonged trip everyone made it to the dive camp just after sunset and we all spent the first night of many in our new beds – after coconut rum!
Luckily despite the boat being in need of repair we were still able to dive with the help of a local dive shop who supplied us with a boat and two brilliant skippers: Bradley and Fito. The first few dives have been amazing, so far we have seen barracuda, loggerhead turtles, groupers and much more. However, there are unfortunately quite a few lionfish around which we have seen on many dives. Other than the awesome diving and snorkelling the food is great, the weather is hot and the boat is fixed. Tonight is party night!