Can’t say I’ve ever been on a helicopter sea safari before, so I am amazed at how much wildlife one can see when skimming the reef a few hundred feet above the surface of the water: manatees, sharks, rays, tortoises, and the occasional fisherman who looks up to wave from his peeling-paint boat. There are also the homes and docks of St. Georges Caye, startled birds in the mangroves, and the dolphin enclosure at Spanish Lookout Caye, where I see a dolphin jump for a small crowd of people on their beach.
It is amazing. Especially the view of Belize City, whose “sprawl” looks very contained from the air, a small city indeed, completely hemmed in by ocean and greenery. Then I rush from the heli-pad to municipal airport, where I wolf down a plate of rice-n-beans before climbing into the cockpit of a Cessna 206 bound for Gallon Jug, buckled in right next to Daniel, the pilot.
The expanse of forest â€” only six to eight hundred feet below us â€” is a vast carpet of canopy, dense and tight-knit, broken only by the odd Mennonite clearing or bird-choked lagoon. Daniel offers a shouted history lesson, often taking both hands off the wheel to emphasize his point. “That’s where the British gathered their lumber!” he says pointing with all ten fingers. “This is the beginning of the Rio Bravo Conservation area!”
Then there’s the airstrip at Gallon Jug Farm and we have landed. In the middle of the jungle.
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