On the 10th March (Susan’s birthday) we woke up as bright and early as we know how (i.e. about 9am) and realised that we had no idea where the office of the snorkelling place we’d decided on was. Somewhere in between the ATM and the restaurant the previous night, we’d spoken to a woman in a little window selling snorkelling trips and agreed to turn up the next day but alas we’d forgotten where it was, and for all it was a tiny island which pretty much only had one main road and a few back streets, it might as well have been a sprawling labyrinthine metropolis for all our drunken recollection amounted to. So instead, we went to the little hut on the beach near our hostel, “Raggamuffin Tours“, which was pretty much the same deal for the day’s snorkelling. We were handed our masks. snorkels and flippers and headed out to the jetty in search of our boat – “The Ragga Man”.
“The Ragga Man” himself, was Captain Caveman – a jovial Caribbean bloke, who welcomed us aboard along with the other 10 or so passengers, and introduced us to his first mate Chilo (a young latino bloke, with an excellent line in belly dancing). It was a lovely warm, but slightly overcast day and as soon as the sails went up, we were cruising across the sea enjoying the beers we’d had the foresight to buy from the shop earlier (to the envy of the other passengers who hadn’t thought on). Susan mentioned it was her birthday, and another girl on the boat piped up saying that it was her birthday too, so we gave her one of our beers and Captain Caveman lead the whole boat singing them a joyful happy birthday.
We snorkelled in a few different locations, seeing (and touching) all kinds of great sea life – rays, nurse sharks, turtles, eels…all sorts! – interspersed with lunch (lovely cerviche) and dinner (nice curry) and accompanied by Captain Caveman’s favourite CD. He’d asked us all if anyone had an ipod or something to put their music on, but of course who brings an ipod on a snorkelling trip? We loved his choice of music anyway – a kind of latino/reggae mix including our new favourite song “Hot Tamale”. We loved it so much that the Captain said he would give us the CD after the trip, but alas we forgot to remind him and we now can’t find out who it was (despite extensive internet research) to buy the album ourselves.
After the last snorkelling point, Jill climbed back onto the boat to the concerned exclamation by Caveman “Guuurl – you BUUUURNED!!!”. Despite the day being quite cloudy and overcast, and us vigilantly re-applying the sunblock every time we got out of the water, we had both turned an attractive shade of crimson. Since the snorkelling was over, Chilo disappeared into the bottom of the boat and reappeared with a massive water cooler bottle full of fruity but potent rum punch and plastic cups for everyone. There followed a nice relaxed journey back to Caye Caulker, singing along to Hot Tamale (enjoying Chilo’s sexy dancing), drinking rum punch and chatting to the other people on the boat, making sure to cover up with our (now soaking wet) shirts to avoid further burning.
We got back to the island around dusk and as we seemed to have drank the lion’s share of the punch between the two of us (the other people just had a small cup and declined all top ups) we both had to be assisted in the jump from the boat to the dock due to unsteadiness. We hugged our lovely crew and set off back to the hostel for some clean clothes and to continue Susan’s birthday session. On returning to the hostel, we found the owner, his missus and a load of his friends all gathered around the big picnic table outside having an epic barbecue feast. They invited us to join them for dinner, but we had stuffed our face with curry and cerviche on the boat so we joined them for a beer or two anyway, yet again blown away by the amazing hospitality of the island folk.
Our wanderings took us to a Lebanese bar/restaurant where we received a lot of ridicule for our (now in full bloom) sunburn, befriended an awesome couple from Las Vegas and petted the resident dachshund. We stayed there for many drinks, doing round of tequila with our new friends, interspersed with the very potent local rum that the barman kept putting in down in front of us in honour of the birthday girl.
Everyone went their separate ways and we got turfed out as the bar was closing (we have no idea what time this was) so we headed out in search of somewhere else to drink, but everywhere else was also closed (they must have an early closing on a Sunday policy on Caye Caulker!) and we eventually ended up in a “discotheque” which was the only place open, and we were the only people in. We realised it was time to go home when Susan suddenly looked at the beer in front of her in astonishment – “Who bought us these?”
“Well I didn’t want a beer!”
“Well you just sent me to the bar and demanded I get you a beer!”
So we staggered back to our hostel and shockingly in the state we were, remembered to call by the 24 hour shop on the way for aftersun and toothpaste.