It began with a one hour delay at Heathrow due to a faulty air conditioning unit. A night spent in Boston airport, where upon my shower gel was confiscated after going through the third in a long line of a redundant security checks. A one hour delay in Miami because of a late plane, or communication problems, or a lazy traffic controller, or a renegade seagull getting a bit over-zealous with it’s flying style and getting sucked into our engine (admittedly, I wasn’t really paying attention to the announcements at this point in my trip). And to cap it all off, my bags had been left in Boston by American Airlines, resulting in a confused, jetlagged, and slightly smelly Rob feeling more than somewhat isolated in Belize City Airport. I’ve got to say, I’ve had better trips.
Fast forward several days and I have commenced my role as the new Principal Investigator on Frontier’s Belize conservation project based on the Caribbean gem christened Caye Caulker. My bags were located and returned to me on the island, and the grey clouds and intermittent rain that followed me around for that demoralising first day parted into beaming sunlight that can be aptly described as only marginally on the pleasant side of scorching. All in all a very quick turn around, and I am now able reply to the frequently heard greeting “What’s good brother?” with a confident “It’s all good brother”. Let my year in the Caribbean begin.
My first event of note in my time here was the Lobster Festival. The locals have all made me very aware of how lucky I am that my first weekend on the island coincided with the start of the lobster-fishing season. The reefs on Caye Caulker are home to the Caribbean Spiny Lobster – a chief export and famous delicacy of the region – and to maintain the population, it’s fishing and harvesting is only permitted for several months each year.
To commemorate the initial harvest, a shindig….no, more of a soiree….hmm, no not that either…..it’s a street party if I’m honest, where Rastafarians and Latin Americans with oil drums cum BBQs grill, steam, jerk, kebab, deep fry and ceviche (yes I did just use ceviche as a verb) the lobsters to mouth watering perfection. The air is awash with the aromas of seafood à la West Indies. And what would a street party be without some music? I’m talking bass so loud that it kind of ruins your conversation. Bass that sometimes actually belies the quality of the song playing – but who ever let over-loud speakers ruin an event?