Friday, July 29, 2011

Wonders of Belize

The first live aboard dive boat I worked on was Peter Hughes Sun Dancer in Belize, Central America. When I arrived by plane the country was celebrating their Independence Day so Customs was closed and the equipment I had shipped was not available. Since I was not able to do any work, Captain Lewis arranged for a girl on the boat and me to borrow a jeep and go to see some Mayan ruins.

Altun Ha was only a little over an hour drive away so I packed some water, sandwiches, cheese and fruit in an ice chest and off we went. I also brought some wash clothes and towels that came in very handy for wiping off sweat because it was really hot. The girl was hot too! She was very sweet and beautiful. and only wearing a tiny pair of shorts and a bikini top so, needless to say, I was having a great time. Once we left Belize City there was hardly any traffic and most of the travel was on dirt roads. On the way we saw a 3 foot alligator sunning himself in the middle of the road so of course we had to stop and take pictures and throw some rocks at it to try and get it to move. All it did was look at us. When we arrived at Altun Ha there was no one else there except the caretaker so we just wandered around and climbed the temples and explored. The largest jade carving from the Mayans was found here in a grave and, even though it is a minor site, it is spectacular.

On the drive we kept seeing signs to "Visit Maruba Resort - just a shot way past the cut off to Altun Ha" so naturally we went there after sightseeing. We parked and found a trail lined with coconut palms and it was like being in a tunnel because it was so narrow and the palm fronds were closed in on the sides and the top. We walked and walked but could not find an office or any resort buildings and finally came out in a clearing with an open air bar built like a giant Tiki hut. Again we were the only ones there except the bartender and behind the bar were bottles of Tequila but, instead of the traditional worm in the bottle, these had snakes or big scorpions in them.

The bar tender explained that the snakes are Tamagas, which translates to 15 steps because that is about how far you make it if you get bitten, and they are the most poisonous snake in Belize. He must have liked the girl too because he invited us to take a seat and have a complementary shot of his fine Tequila. Of course we did and I immediately had a buzz like no other I have ever had. He must have liked her a lot because we stayed a couple hours and had several more complementary shots. She wound up buying almost $700 worth of Tequila with snakes and scorpions in the bottles. That night when we got back to the boat she shared one of the bottles with the crew. I have some pretty wild pictures of scary looking people with bright shinny eyes from that night.

I was there to install a low pressure compressed air drive system for filling SCUBA tanks with Nitrox so when the equipment was delivered later in the week I went to work. The ventilation fan in the engine room was broken and it was August so it was very hot. I had a point-and-shoot thermometer gun with me and the coolest spot I could find in the engine room was 142 degrees F. I was using 3/4" refrigeration copper tubing to connect the compressor and filters. It was so hot that, if I did not get a bend right the first time, I had to throw the piece of tubing away and start over because it was work hardened and would just crack if I tried to correct the bend.

No comments:

Post a Comment