Friday, March 12, 2010

Journey to the Blue Hole

Belize may just be the easiest vacation spot in Central America. It's a relatively short flight from the US, English is the official language, and there are plenty of restaurants and accommodations that can make you feel like you're staying in a well developed country. Or there are the more local spots that can provide you with that sense of adventure.

So now for the blue hole. This is some kind of diver's mecca, and it definitely amounts to the "Best Dive Ever" in my book.

The blue hole is actually a cave that developed during the last ice age. It's a pretty cool looking cave too, with stalactites and stalagmites (don't even ask me which is which). Back in the last ice age the ocean levels were low enough that this cave wasn't even covered in water. But once the earth starting warming, ocean levels rose from melting glaciers, and this cave collapsed under the weight of the water. The collapsed section is in the form of a hole, and now has a beautiful corral reef surrounding it. You have to travel down the collapsed hole about 100 feet to reach the cave. We dove down 130 feet. The hole goes 400 feet deep, but humans can't dive that deep without leaving their bones on the bottom. For this reason, it's important that a diver has control of their buoyancy.

While the entire dive lasted 25 minutes, you can only remain in the depth of the cave for about 10 minutes before developing nitrogen narcosis. While in the cave I saw a few sharks. And sharks are scary! Especially these ones. They are called Caribbean Reef Sharks, and pretty much look like Great Whites, except they are only about the size of a person. Once out of the cave and back to depths of about 20 feet, I saw about 50 reef sharks. I made sure I was surrounded with other people. Kind of like schools of fish that don't want to get stuck on the outside, I feel my chances of being eaten are slim when there are other meals around me. This was also my thought when I swam from Alcatraz last year. Realistically though, sharks don't eat humans. And there is pretty much no chance that these reef sharks will attack you if unprovoked. Sharks are still scary though!

Caribbean Reef Sharks

Running in Belize was also an adventure. I went on three runs. Two on the beach with my girlfriend. And one down a dirt road by myself, through a fence that I opened so I could run with the horses in there, and then holy crap, there's a guard dog coming toward me, reverse, back out the fence, close the fence quickly, and back down the dirt road to home. I think the horses were sad...

The dirt road and sad horses. It took me forever to open the fence. Not so long to re-open it.

I have always wanted to run up to the top of a Mayan or Incan ruin. Something about those long staircases just seem like a challenge. So that's what I did. Xunantunich is the tallest building in all of Belize. That might sound really tall, but there are no skyscrapers in Belize. So at 130 feet tall, Xunantunich is the equivalent of a 12-story building. I sprinted up multiple staircases to reach the top. Some had really big steps and others small. My girlfriend heard two older woman that were watching me exclaim, "Just watching that makes me feel like I'm going to have a heart attack!" Dang, I don't want to get old. I used to think 30 was old though, and here I am thinking I'm young.

After spending a few days on the mainland, we took a ferry to the popular vacation island called Ambergris Caye. There we relaxed on the beach and hit up several restaurants and bars in town, including a place where people place bets on where a chicken is going to take a dump. They take a chicken, make somebody blow on its ass (I guess that makes it want to poop?), and throw it into a roped-off area where it walks on what looks like a checker board with numbers in each square. It soon unloads on some number, and the winner gets $100. I didn't win any money, but did get to see some drunk person brown-nose the chicken as she pulled it too close to her face while trying to blow on its butt. So that was probably worth $100 or so. Good times.

1 comment:

  1. DE: Tim,
    That is pretty SICK BRO!!! Man I have got to go to Brazil! That must have been really exciting or scary I am not sure... but in the Blue hole isn´t cold I imagen being surround by sharks but being so cold that it wouldn´t really matter. What a great adventure. great for a blog. and Chicken butt hole blowing checkers... LOL