Growing up on Lake Erie, I’ve spent a lot of time on the water, whether it be on a boat or on the beach. My father and I have enjoyed countless days fishing off of breakwaters and off of our little fishing boat. Truthfully, I enjoyed the time on the boat more than the activity of fishing itself.
Coming to San Pedro, Belize, right on the Caribbean Sea, I was excited to partake in the same aquatic activities as I did growing up. I was ready to swim in warm clear water, unlike the water of Lake Erie, which was usually cold all summer long and murky. Though I take pride in my Ohio upbringing, and the waters that surrounded me, I was ready to expand my horizons.
This weekend, the office decided to take a Sunday boat trip out on the Caribbean. This was our first office bonding activity since we interns arrived on the island. One of my coworkers had a friend who could take us out on his boat to fish and enjoy the sun. It was easily my favorite day of my first month in Ambergris so far. I can’t even be upset about the sunburn I was graced with afterward, because I was enjoying myself.
We set out at around 10 a.m. The original plan was to leave at 9:30, but we had to make sure we had the proper materials for rum punch, and you can’t spend a Sunday on a boat without rum punch!
The captains of the boat did some fishing for sardines near the shore and we set out.
I was mostly interested in soaking in the sun than anything else, but I was on a boat and willing to do anything. We stopped in one area and the fishing poles came out – I was excited to take my chance at catching some lunch.
My experiences with fishing back home on Lake Erie told me that, for the most part, fishing is a lot of sitting around. It makes me think about a sign I saw in San Pedro that read, “If fishing were easy, it would be called CATCHING,” and I was prepared for the usually unavoidable experience of waiting. My first cast ended in stolen bait, so when I recast, I was surprised to feel a tug soon afterward.
I excitedly reeled in and saw my catch.
As you can see, I was quite proud of myself – as I usually am after a successful catch. I was surprised how quickly I caught the fish. Like I said, I was preparing myself for a long, restless wait.
I have a tendency to lose interest after catching one fish, and this held true again. After making my contribution to lunch, I heard rum punch calling my name and I gave in. At the next fishing destination, I relaxed on the bow of the boat. The sun was out and I was surrounded by the turquoise water that is usually beckoning at around 4:00 p.m. while I’m at the office.
I’ve been in Central America for just over a month, and once a week I have a moment where I remember how beautiful it is here. The water is clear, the sun is hot, and I get to wake up here every day. My moment this week was on the boat that Sunday.
We jumped to a few locations and boated through patches of mangroves in hopes of catching fish. Each stop was more beautiful than the last.
The photograph above was my favorite of our stops. I stood on the front of the boat and looked around; all I could see was blue water and green trees. It was fascinating. The daily, relaxed life in San Pedro was a big city compared to the serene waters where I was standing. I don’t know if it was the sea or the rum punch, but I was the happiest man alive at that moment.
At this point I really wanted to swim, but I was promised the next stop was better because the water was deeper.
Swimming was very refreshing. We stopped and I dove right in – the water felt great. At this point I was starting to show signs of the impending sunburn. Due to my stubborn attitude, I only applied sunscreen once during the whole day and it wasn’t until after I started to turn slightly pink.
After swimming, we were all hungry. All together around 15 fish were caught, so we headed to a small beach so we could eat. After taking a short dip in the shallow water, where my curiosity
led me to touch a jellyfish, I joined my friends at the picnic and lunch was soon served.
The boatmen prepared the fish with peppers and various herbs and spices, accompanied by potatoes and tortillas. The food did not last very long. For dessert they grilled a coconut for us and sprinkled it with brown sugar. I’m not usually keen on coconut, but I ate it anyway. It was the perfect way to end this delicious meal.
After eating lunch, I was advised not to go out into the sun anymore for I had developed a pretty bad sunburn in the shape of my tank top. I spent the rest of the trip in the safety of my towel.
Everyone was exhausted after spending most of the day in the sun, so we we went home. The boat ride home was silent, I’m assuming out of satisfaction and gratitude.
It’s not everyday that we get to see how wonderful the world is. Ambergris Caye, Belize, has opened up so many doors for me. Getting to know the people and spending time in the water has been a treat. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to explore and get a sunburn in a different part of the world.