From Belize With Love
My boyfriend and I went to Belize for Christmas and New Year’s this year! We stayed on the Turneffe Atoll, one of three atolls in Belize, in a little purple hut with a netted patio, hammock, thatched roof, and hot shower. We went scuba diving 2-3 times a day, lounged in the sun, read books, watched movies and had impromptu private dance parties in our hut after dinner.
Every morning at 6am, we woke up to sun streaming in through the windows. Life centers around diving on the island, and every day the speedboats loaded up gear for diving trips at 8am, 11am, and 2.30pm. Spending an hour underwater is a magical experience. I imagine that diving feels fairly close to flying; once you get your buoyancy down (not an easy task), you just... drift.
We dove around the reef for the week, and while it was a humbling and gratifying experience to see this underwater Dr. Seuss world, with everything from sharks playfully circling and turtles floating gracefully along beside you and getting caught up in whirlwinds of schools of every color imaginable fish - my real thrill was the topography. The ocean floor is a staggering thing - you can be skimming the sandy bottom and then, all of a sudden, swim over a 100 foot wall of coral that drops straight down, and even in water that has 100% visibility, it’s impossible to see the bottom. Canyons upon canyons upon canyons of coral and caves; this was so heart-wrenchingly cool. As the week went on, my handful of reef dives and my fascination with the ocean floor around the atoll could not have prepared me for the Blue Hole.
The day before the end of 2014, we sped to Lighthouse Atoll, an hour and a half away from our own island. We geared up and dropped into the water, giving the boat captain the ‘OK’ sign. We hovered in the water, in the middle of a 400 foot, perfectly circular drop into the ocean - the Blue Hole. I’m an earth person - I love mountains, green, and ground. So, it’s a huge testament to the sheer awesomeness of what we saw as we slipped below the surface that I desperately wished for gills, just so we could explore further with no worries to our need for oxygen. Our tanks only gave us about 30 minutes of air, and since we were diving to a depth of around 130 feet, we had only 5-10 minutes at the deepest part of the cave.
The Blue Hole is thought to have once been an above-ground cave system that collapsed in on itself a few thousand years ago. The reason why geologists hypothesize this to be so is because at 130 feet inside this circular shaft, you find stalactites, encrusted with shells and coral from their underwater home. We slowly descended to the sandy bottom, sloping as it entered the deep blue blackness below us, and then quickly swam down into that great sapphire expanse. 50 feet, 80 feet, 100 feet quickly passed us by as if it were nothing, and then all of a sudden, we were swimming in and out of underwater caves and hanging stalactites. I looked over to Daniel at one point and he signed - ‘141 feet!’ We were diving in the Blue Hole at 141 feet!!
I dreamed that night of surrender; falling - ever so gently, weightlessly - into that indigo abyss. I thought about happiness, my happiness. Contentment and satisfaction are familiar friends while based in Seattle, but I do not allow myself release from my routines - sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse. Falling over the Blue Hole was the closest I have ever come to complete and perfect release, and I will hold that feeling into this New Year as a reminder of the beauty of surrender, and the happiness it can bring.