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Madcap Sailing
Back in the Rio
Beth / beautiful days in low 30's
23/03/2015/12:51 pm, Cayo Quemado, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

We are back in Rio Dulce after a fabulous week in the Sapodilla Cays of Belize. Now tied up again at Casey Brook's dock. We will move to anchor in Buenavista bay for Semana Santa (Holy Week) and then go up to Tortugal Marina in the town of Rio Dulce (Fronteras) around April 6.

More later - It was great to be out sailing, and it's great to be back in our Rio home!

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Exploring the Sapodilla Cays, Part 4, Lime Cay
Beth / beautiful days in low 30's
21/03/2015/12:12 pm, Lime Cay, Belize

Lime Cay, lying just a half-mile south west of Hunting Cay, is another privately owned one. We beached the dinghy on the gorgeous expanse of white sand curving out to the west as a boatload of visitors motored off.

After a stroll on the hot sand, we ventured up to a stand of trees where we spotted hammocks full of drowsy young people. As I started questioning the nearest of them, she pointed to another hammock off to the side and said, "There's the owner." And so started another of the easy, informative conversations we have enjoyed in these islands.

Sandra Williams owns the cay and welcomes visitors to stay for a day or a week in her sweet cabins nestled under trees and looking out across sand and sea. In the years since her husband Lester passed on, she has built it from a home into a small scale resort. Well - resort is not really the right word. Because this is not the kind of big scale, high end place we associate with resort. This is: a kitchen with picnic tables for dining and conversation, and hammocks for nappers and readers strung from trees and roof beams. This is: cabins for 2 or 4 or 20 - not fancy but with showers and electricity. This is: an open-air living room with a breeze sifting through the trees and where it is always cool. This is: a quiet woman who tells of the way she poured her pennies into making Lime Cay a happy place where people like to visit. This is: her son, Dennis Garbutt, who runs fishing and diving tours from Punta Gorda. (garbuttsfishinglodge.org) This is: a group of students from University of Massachusetts who just finished a research project in the jungle and are getting a taste of the cays and reef before returning to the snowy north.

It was a gentle afternoon, topped off by a leisurely swim, and a return to Madcap for rum punches as we watched the sun go down.

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Exploring the Sapodilla Cays Part 3, Nicholas Cay
Beth / bathing suit and flippers
19/03/2015/12:09 pm, Nicholas Cay, Belize

Oh what a jewel this cay is! A little oval measuring less than a quarter mile at its widest point, it is ringed with velvety soft white sand, sits right beside the reef and has fabulous snorkeling on every side. And it is clean.

We floated around and over large coral heads alive with fish swimming in and out of crevices, conch studded turtle grass areas, sandy bottoms with scattered coral where schools of Blue Tangs with their smiley faces drifted by us and multi-coloured Wrasses flitted here there and everywhere, and yellow and blue striped French Grunts huddled next to the coral as we did the drifting by. We swam out where the swell from the reef made us work to stay in position, and farther in where there was so little water movement that we could hover easily.

We walked the beach a couple of times, watching hermit crabs and water crabs scuttle across sand and water, turning over lovely tulip shells and conchs to see their inhabitants quickly withdraw inside the curves of the shell, and picking up a small shard of what might be Mayan pottery left from the days when they would come here on fishing expeditions. And we met Leroy, the resident caretaker - such an articulate and caring young man who shared juicy oranges and grapefruit with us and talked about his experiences as part time special constable in Punta Gorda and part time island dweller. He lives here for a couple of months at a time, raking the sand, cleaning up the masses of Sargasso seaweed that wash ashore, and gathering up the garbage that comes in the same way. It is SO discouraging to see all the plastic that lands on these beaches. There are sandals and shoes and oil jugs and bits and pieces of broken plastic containers, but the most plentiful item by far is plastic bottles. Water bottles, soda bottles, juice bottles by the hundreds. What a terrible thing our society has done by getting so used to throw-away bottles. At Hunting Cay and others, it is just left there. At Nicholas Cay, it gets gathered up, bagged and sent over to Punta Gorda. (And I do not know what happens after that, although Leroy says there is a recycling facility somewhere near Cucumber Beach.)

Leroy is employed by Belcampo, the current owners of Nicholas Cay. A signpost welcomes visitors and encourages them to keep the cay clean. We learned that there were once 22 buildings on this little cay - built and never used. A large tiled patio looking out over the reef is partially broken down. What looks like it would have been a sheltered dining area with an expansive wooden floor and roof is linked to a nearby brick BarBQ and a concrete walled kitchen. Pathways link abandoned pilings where houses stood, and a conch shell wall surrounds the remains of the bathrooms. A sadness crept over me as I stood on that dining hall floor, looking out past the grand patio and thinking of the disappointments here. The natural vegetation was ripped away, somebody designed and built what might have been an attractive resort and it all came to nothing. Now the trees and vines try to take it back, but cement pilings, broken floors and roofs interrupt the greening. How many times does this happen in Belize? Is this what will become of the massive Sanctuary Belize development at Sapodilla Lagoon farther up the coast?

We didn't learn what Belcampo's plans might be for this cay, but we enjoyed meeting Leroy, snorkeling the surrounding waters, strolling the beaches and imagining the history - of the Mayan fishermen who came here, and of modern developers and their failed plans.

Despite the feeling of disappointment that pervades the interior, the cay felt like a jewel to us. The white sand is soft underfoot, the waters are clear, the fish are plentiful, and someone cares about it.

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