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April 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Belize Diving Services, Caye Caulker, Belize

Old Caribbean living, the reality of current Caribbean diving

from the April, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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South of Ambergris Caye, which developers have successfully Americanized in just two short decades, is the smaller, underdeveloped Caye Caulker. For those of us divers who pine for the old Caribbean, it provides a twitch of nostalgia. No cars are allowed, so the streets are sand. The village is a funky, laid-back development of maybe 1,300 souls of Hispanic or African origin, plus plenty of expats, who only recently had a public desalinated water system installed. On the oceanfront main street, vendors hawk souvenirs and street food, the kind that always tempts me and is bound to make me ill -- yup, after my first helping, diarrhea persisted throughout the trip. So I stuck to the real restaurants, similar to each other, either with picnic benches or tables set on the sand, or a wooden deck in open-air roofed buildings. Food doesn't vary much: fresh fish or lobster, roast chicken, pork chops or steak served with rice, beans and frequently cole slaw. At the "Italian" restaurant, my grilled fish, smothered in tomato sauce, of course came with rice and beans. Old Caribbean food, old Caribbean prices: A whole grilled lobster with sides cost US$10, a grilled snapper filet or kabob dinner was $9. Voluminous pina coladas cost $3.

The old Belize dive operators weren't much to write home about, but Belize Diving Services (BDS) resembles a 21st century operation. Prior to our arrival, owner Chip Peterson asked me and my partner to submit our physician dive fitness forms, which he requires for folks over 65. Upon arrival, he was extremely helpful, and can supply custom 40-cfs bottles of EAN80 that I use for decompression (a safety margin for an illness). He made no attempt to sell us a "dive package;" the only requirement was a small deposit, the cost of a single two-tank dive....

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