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Sittee River leads to Sanctuary

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After a night filled with home-smoked fish and chicken, and grouper served on curried local lentils, cooked up by Tony Marsico at Barracuda Bar in Hopkins, Belize, Mark and I and the girls, made our way up the Sittee River. We were on our way to the home of our friends, Horace and Sharon Andrews.

Sittee River is home to a little over three-hundred residents.  Its a sleepy town in the midcoast of Belize.  Its homes are scattered along the shore of the  river and thousands of healthy mangroves line its banks.  The river marks the end of the town of Hopkins,a Garinagu community that hosts some of Belize’s beach-side resorts.

“We are heading across the cut from the river, over to Sanctuary Bay.” said Sharon.  “Its a nice view of the mangroves and we can check out what is going on over there.” (Sanctuary Bay is home to a new, under-construction, high-end yurt resort.)  The river has seen its share of recent construction too: a new marina and development along the Sittee Point reflect the growing interest in the area as a tourism destination.

Provisioning at the Sittee River Marina, we loaded up with snacks and drinks.  Almost as soon as we were back in the boat, Mark and Horace threw in lines to troll for fish. “We get a lot of snook here.” said Horace.

Great for sport and even better for eating.

Horace loves fishing they way that I love breathing.  The Sittee and the ocean that surrounds the point are abundant with snook, barracuda, snapper and grouper. “We came to fish to eat.” said Horace.  He and his family would head out every week for local fish. “We trolled, cast and even speared fish.” The life-long skill turned business has earned Horace a reputation as an expert guide of the area, and a laid-back, albeit serious fishing instructor.  To watch him is to see the beauty that is intense passion; you cannot help but appreciate his skills .

Horace led us down the river over the cut and out to the lagoon. Sharon explained, “The mangroves here are home to the fish.  They are extremely important to all the wildlife here, as the fish feed the birds and the water is kept clean.” Sharon is an active paddle-boarder and has spent her time learning the river.  She is sensitive to the environmental value of the landscape.

The source of the Sittee is in the Maya Mountains.  Its waters flow into a lagoon and then out to Sanctuary Bay.  The beaches of the bay are loaded with old corals in imaginative letter and brain shapes- the worn skeletons of their former lives as elk horn and brain corals on the reef.

The soft sands of the beach made for a perfect walking break, and then we popped back into the boat to seek our more fish.

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For guides of the Sittee, fishing and snorkel tours with Horace contact: www.belizebyhorace.com

Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons

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