Monday, 11 March 2013

Sharks and Bikes

We have been planning to do some snorkeling while in Belize as it's home to the second largest barrier reef in the world and one of the highlights here is the abundant marine life.  Snorkling (and diving) opportunities are everywhere from one end of the country to the other.   In preparation we had pushed the swimming lessons hard before we left Canada to make sure their skills were up for this year away.   Over the past few months we've have lots of beach time to get them used to ocean waves and salt water but....   So, off we ventured for a half day snorkeling trip... you start off with an easy outing first right?   The reef is right off of Caye Caulker so the boat ride was about 10 minutes max!  And what was our first snorkel stop called ... Shark Stingray Alley.  So much for the plan, an easy trip but a pretty intimidating first open water experience!  The boys however continue to amaze us and just jumped in with no problems and no hesitation.   They were quite brave as the stingrays and nurse sharks swam around us... it wasn't deep water so they were right around us and we had to be careful not to bump into them!  It was pretty cool!  We had two other snorkel stops along the way and the highlight for those was encountering a brown eel and a lionfish. (the lionfish is actually a big nucance... it's an invasive species and eats everything so there are conservation steps underway to try to eradicate them, even though as snorkeler... they are really pretty!)

Nurse Sharks

green moray eel

That's Caye Caulker in the background

Lion Fish

Nurse Shark

But the big surprise was Sean and Liam learning how to ride a bike here in Caye Caulker!  We are not really a bike riding family and in the past when we've attempted to teach them to ride it's been in short bursts with the aid of training wheels.  Sean, for the last few summers, had out right refused to learn.  So when we spotted a bike rental place that had kids bikes here and Liam was all over it wanting to rent one we thought what a great opportunity.  He has always been really motivated to ride a bike... and it was so incredible to see him just wheel off on his own after only a few assisted trials!  Surprisingly Sean decided he wanted to try as well (on Liam's tiny bike) and he just got on and rode away... like he's been doing it for years.  No problems (well his knees were pretty tight to the handle bars... but he just managed).  All those summers trying to encourage him and get him over his fears and then just like that...  When kids are ready... they are ready... when they are not... it's just a huge battle.  So, huge transformative experiences... our boys learned to ride bikes on the sandy streets of the little island of Caye Caulker... so cool!  It was fun too because we had a bit of an audience in the local venders sitting by their street stalls and there was a bar full of people that were also watching the kids progress.   When Liam got a really good long ride for the first time... he got a huge round of applause!  So fun!

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