Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mardi Gras

We awoke Tuesday, both feeling the effects of a sinus cold.  This put paid to the idea of a cruise  to Shark Alley to swim with the beasts.  Instead we opted for a Beach Day, repairing to the shade of the Lanai overlooking the sea and watching the world go by, feeling slightly sorry for ourselves.  Still.  If you have to be sick, sitting by the Caribbean with a cool drink is the way to do it.

Although it was Mardi Gras, the main celebrations weren't going to get underway until 4PM, so other than kids spraying each other with what we assumed was water-soluble paints, it was relatively peaceful.  We lolled indolently, reading and dozing and watching the seabirds.  I noted that the ungainly-looking pelicans were Masters of the Air.  Not surprising when you consider that if they don't master the art of flying they will surely hit something and kill themselves, so all the ones you see sailing about are the ones who are good at it.

They knew that with the steady onshore Trade Wind breeze striking the seafront rows of buildings, a standing wave of air formed just at the edge of the beach.  By angling themselves slightly left or right, they could effortlessly soar for miles up and down the beach on the lookout for fishermen or suspicious gatherings of other seabirds with nary a flap of their wings.  I actually saw one who was doing this, tilt his head slightly and come to a halt in mid-air over my head.  He reached up with his right foot and scratched himself behind the ear, replaced the foot, tilted his head again, and resumed his flight.  All without losing a centimeter of altitude or flapping his wings!  I watched others as they landed on the water.  On approach, at just the right moment, they extended their feet downwards with their toes pointing down and webbing spread, so that the feet became speed-brakes and ancillary rudders, to help them pin-point a landing among the other birds.

Graceful pelican

We decided to wander off to the nearby airport at about 10 minutes to 4PM and managed to catch the last taxi on the street: we'd forgotten that the street was going to close for the carnival.  We checked our one bag and sat in the tiny but modern Tropic Air terminal and watched electric-coloured tropical fish in their ten foot high tank.  The agent handed us some large, reusable  color-coded boarding passes, and soon our colour was called so we strolled out to our little plane, squoze in, belted up and took off for the 20 minute flight to Corozal.  No lines, no security, no hassle.  Flying as it used to be.

Eco-friendly boarding passes

Tropic Air terminal, San Pedro, Ambergris Cay

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