I’ve been to many places and know for a fact that the best part about trips is usually meeting locals. Which is why even though I personally tend to try to travel as cheaply as possible, I’m a big advocate for guided tours. That’s one situation where I don’t mind spending extra money because you get to meet local tour guides that are usually awesome AF! Pardon my French.
I recently went on a kayaking and snorkeling trip to Glovers Reef with Island Expeditions and it was all pretty spectacular. However, the best part was hanging out with Budge, the tour guide at Glovers Reef. I honestly can say that without him, the trip would not have been as awesome. So, of course, I sat down with him and asked him a few questions about himself.
Tell me a little about yourself?
I’m 36 years old and my name is Cedric Casimiro. I’m mostly known as Budge though – my godmother gave me that nickname when I was a kid and it stuck! To be honest, I even prefer to be called Budge – since my godmother passed away and it reminds me of her.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
Some of my favourite things to do during my spare time are playing soccer, playing Garifuna drums and playing dominos with friends. I also enjoy teaching kids how to play soccer. That’s a lot of fun.
Have you always lived in Dangriga?
No, I was born in Corozal. My family lived in Corozal for a few years because my dad moved there to work at the sugar factory, however, when the factory closed, we came back to Dangriga and went back to fishing for a living.
That sounds interesting. So you started fishing from young?
Yes, my dad taught all of my siblings how to be expert fishermen. All 12 of us! We’d leave home for more than a week and spend our time hanging out on the Cayes, such as Glovers or Turneffe, which is approximately 30 miles away from Dangriga.
What would you guys do?
Ah, have you heard of the phrase: island treasure? We’d fish for most of the day and then later in the day we’d go looking for coconuts. The Cayes used to be filled with coconut trees so we’d harvest coconuts and bring it back to the mainland.
So you’re an expert fisherman?
Well, I started fishing at the age of 13 and I did it until I was 21.
Why did you stop?
To be honest, we saw that the fish stock was depleting. I knew it wasn’t sustainable and that I had to do something else.
So what did you do next?
I saw on the local TV channel that the government was looking for tour guides and they were offering training in Dangriga. I realized that was a great opportunity and enrolled immediately.
What was the course/ training like?
For the first two weeks we were in a classroom learning the theory and fundamentals of tour guiding and then we went into the field, which involved hands-on jungle and sea training.
What did you enjoy the most – the jungle or sea training?
Both were fun but I LOVE the sea. We had to do intense open water training so we went to a site near South Water Caye and had to complete an extreme free diving challenge. In water that was about 25 feet deep, we had to dive for about 500 times to bring up a conch shell. The purpose was to make sure that we could handle swimming for well over an hour.
Wow, that sounds brutal.
Yeah, a lot of people didn’t pass. But I got top marks. I’m like a fish you see.
That’s great. So how long have you worked with Island Expeditions?
I started in 2001, however, I first worked in maintenance for 6 years. I was the guy that raked the beach and cleaned the bathrooms. I’d also occasionally wash dishes and BBQ or entertained guest by playing drums. However, I left for 3 to 4 years to go back to being a fisherman but since there weren’t a lot of fish, I applied to become a tour guide and came back here. It is the perfect job for me because I know this environment so well – I know the area like the palm of my hand.
Yeah? So what’s the best thing to do around here?
Kill lionfish! Haha. I say this because they are killing the reef and I love the reef and I want my children and everyone to enjoy all the marine wildlife that the reef supports.
There are tons of stuff to do here. I personally love SUP paddleboarding in the early morning or late afternoon when the water is calm. As for guests, I’d say what they tend to enjoy the most is when we kayak to snorkeling spots. The snorkeling is amazing here because Glovers Reef is a protected marine reserve with well over 500 patch reefs.
Wait, so why are Lionfish so bad?
Well, they are an invasive species to Belize so they are destroying the reef. It’s just ridiculous, they have no predators here, they can eat 5 times their weight, and they reproduce every 3 weeks. And each time they have babies, they have about 500. Ugh!
Oh, my…that sucks! What can guest do to help?
Guests can request to go lionfish hunting! You’d be helping the reef and also lion fish are delicious to eat in ceviche or as sashimi.
Ok, great interview. One last thing. Tell me something not many people know about you?
When I was 17 years old I caught a Goliath Grouper that was approximately 300 lbs – and I did it while being in a small dugout canoe. So what happened was that one day when I was returning home empty handed from a long day of fishing, I passed over a massive underwater sinkhole and I got curious. I decided to go check it out and to my surprise, there was a massive fish guarding the entrance. I was able to out maneuver it and kill it with my spear.
Wow, how did you bring it back though?
Well, because of my experience, I knew that if I killed it with one attempt the fish would float. So I made sure I did a “kill shot”. I then filled my dugout with water so that it would sink and pushed the fish on. After that I scooped the water out and paddled home – I paddled for 2 miles. It was brutal but I was so happy and excited that it did not matter.
Wow. Ok, Budge. After hearing that, I honestly believe that the guy from the Dos Equis commercials has some competition as the most interesting man alive. Thanks for the great interview!