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Beach Life
Here present the greatest experiences from the worlds` most fabulous beaches. Neither words, photograps nor films do the world`s places justice - they must been seen, heard and touched.

You betta Belize it – Belize in Caribbean

2005-01-02
Like a hot knife through butter our boat sliced through the shimmering Caribbean. Our destination, Caye Caulker, a small tropical paradise nestled in the coral reefs of Belize. In the water Carlos literally embraced one of the sharks ………
Photo. The color of Belize's agua. © Josh Cutler.  

Upon arrival we were immediately surrounded by a village of pastellic hues. Every other building was painted a bold shade of yellow, pink and orange. Just walking through town felt like a trip through a technicolour candyland. The vibrant green palm trees and crisp azul skies added the final touches to paradise.

Caulker's motto is "Go Slow" and the entire population of 800 locals abide by that philosophy. There are no paved roads, no cars and no stress. Enormous pelicans gracefully coasting overhead like living, breathing kites add to the ambience. The only ones in any rush here are the tiny lizards that scurry past us as we lazily swing in our hammock.

A soothing coastal breeze prevents the island from boiling under the intense Central American sun. This is definitely the tropics, the sun here means business...You better "Belize" it!!!

Photo. Belize motto.
© Josh Cutler.

There are no paved roads, no cars and no stress.

The main reason Marna and I came to Belize was to experience its enormous coral reef, the second biggest on the planet. We hired a local guide, Carlos, to take us to some of the reefs highlights. Carlos was an amazing individual...like a cross between Jacque Cousteau and Crocodile Dundee... We couldn't have asked for a better individual to show us the hidden secrets of the reef.

We gathered our gear and boarded our boat...the appropriately named S.S. Gypsy.

Photo. S.S. Gypsy.
© Josh Cutler.

Our first stop was the Hol Chan Marine Reserve...an immense underwater biosphere. It was like a coral metropolis...thousands of organisms competing for space in this densely packed interspecies conglomeration. Fiesty moray eels slither among multicoloured sea anemonies, as fluorescent purple lobsters scurry under a glob of brain coral the size of our boat! The food chain was definitely on display for the patient snorkeller.

We moved further down the reef...coasting through the aqua marine waves...

As the boat anchored, Carlos signalled us to jump in the water quickly...a turtle!!! The loggerhead coasted along without a care in the world. It appeared oblivious to Marna and I swimming inches from its upper shell. We had seen a couple in Maui...but we never imagined we could get this close.

Photo. Small boat. Belize is a real tropical paradise for swimming, but look up for the sharks!
© Josh Cutler.

The next stop on Carlos's magical mystery tour was the appropriately named "Shark Ray Alley". From the second we anchored, six foot sharks swarmed around the vessel hoping for some "chum" scraps to dine on. I have to admit, after seeing one of these beasts inches from the boat I was filled with a sudden sense of fear. Here I am...going to jump in the open ocean filled with dozens of these unpredictable wild animals. I could see the headline now: "Backpacker Devoured by Hungry Swarm of Sharks".

I'm glad I took the "plunge"...It turned out to be the highlight of our trip so far. In the water Carlos literally embraced one of the sharks and tamed it long enough for us to touch it. The two of them looked like old buddies. He flipped the beast over on its back and calmed it enough to open its mouth and show us the numerous rows of piercing teeth.

Further down the reef, spotted sting rays the size of a dining room table coasted right below our feet. They glided through the aquatic landscape unphased by our presence. These creatures are massive...I never realized just how big they can get.

Just when we thought life couldn't get any better a pod of dolphins flipped around our boat as they splashed and played. What an extraordinary finale to this "unbelizeable" day.

The following day, Carlos agreed to take us to another amazing destination...Swallow Caye...Here, nestled amongst the mazes of mangroves is a chance to see a side of nature that few will ever experience. Our boat coasted through the untouched scenery until we reached a quiet lagoon, totally surrounded by a twisted mess of mangrove roots.

Photo. Mangrove Island viewed from plane. © Josh Cutler. 

We were told to make as little noise as possible... It was important to be calm and quiet to attract the reclusive and very shy manatee. We waited and waited.... Then suddenly, bursting out of the water was a gigantic figure, the size of a cow! It wasn't alone... moments later two more manatees flipped around the water's glassy surface, inches from our boat!

Our patience paid off...pretty soon they were popping up everywhere... Unbelizable! For a nature lover seeing such a rare peaceful creature in its natural habitat truly warms the soul.

Photo. Bright storefronts on Caye Caulker. © Josh Cutler.

Photo. Traffic on Caye Caulker, Belize. © Josh Cutler.

One thing our guide book failed to mention about Caye Caulker was the sheer awesomeness of a Belize sunrise.

Photos. Sunrise in Belize. © Josh Cutler.  

Photo. Josh and Marna enjoying the afternoon on St. George Caye, Belize.
© Josh Cutler.  

Four mornings in a row I awoke with the local roosters to witness a glimpse of G-d's paint pallette. Smeared shades of orange, yellow and pink graced the horizon in perfect harmony. Colours looked like they were right out of heaven's paint box.

Photo. More sunrise. © Josh Cutler.  

As the sun pierced the clouds it highlighted their every dimension.

The morning sky appeared like it was caught in a raging wild fire. For a brief moment in time my eyes tasted a glimpse of the divine.

Some people believe the Midwest is G-d's country... I believe Belize is where He goes on vacation.....

Josh Cutler, 4 November 2004

Additional information

Presentation of the author:
Josh Cutler has been interested in travel as far back as age 5. Growing up, he would spend countless hours reading and rereading the world atlas. While most other children played with Star Wars figures and Big Wheel Bikes, Josh's favourite toy was his globe. His country of origin is the USA (from the Philadelphia area). He currently lives in Ventnor, New Jersey.

His first travels led him to Mexico and Central America. Then, at age 25 he quit his job and spent months exploring Western Europe and North Africa. It was a life altering experience to live out of a back pack for such an extended period of time. As much as he saw...his hunger for travel and exploration seemed to grow larger.

Photo. Josh Cutler is an adventure traveller, photograph and freelance journalist from the USA.

 

Josh's other passion was travel writing. He has had several articles published by Lonely Planet and Globe Trekker."My greatest joy is experiencing different cultures, religions and lifestyles...then being able to convey my visions through words and description to those back home."

 

Josh has visited over twenty countries including Peru, Morocco, Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey, Belize, Guatemala and most of Europe. For further information, assignments, articles and photos, Josh Cutler could be contacted on e-mail:NYCutler@aol.com.

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