Our journey to Belize began with a bit of a scare. Becca and Ryan, two of our traveling companions called us from the United Airlines check-in counter to ask us if we had any proof that we did not have yellow fever?
My mind immediately started racing and quickly settled on a response of, Double-you tee eff. Why in God’s name would we need proof from our doctor in THE UNITED STATES, a county that does not have yellow fever, to travel to Belize, a country that also does not have yellow fever? It made absolutely no sense. I asked Becca what was going on and she said she thought the guy at the United counter might be new. While Patrik returned the SUV and got his bill credited for a navigation system that had been advertised as free a week earlier, Andy and I ran up to the airline counter to see what was going on with yellow fever fiasco.
When we arrived, we pulled Becca and Ryan aside and quickly concluded that the airline attendant was, in fact, new and he was reading, actually misreading the country warnings that tenured airline attendants seldom bother to mention. I quickly put my mental plans to procure verification of healthy bills of health on hold and was at least thankful Belize does not have yellow fever especially considering it is literally the only travel vaccination we haven’t had administered.
Patrik and Claudia caught up to the rest of us and luckily had the competent United airlines attendant. While Andy’s Premiere Executive airline status from all of his work trips to China was able to upgrade one or both of us to first class on nearly all of our flights, it didn’t shield us from dealing with the incompetence of the new guy.
Our travel itinerary was a little bit complicated because we were flying to Denver then Houston, staying the night in Houston and the flying out to Belize City in the morning. The incompetent airline guy concluded on his own that he should check our bags all the way to Belize. Um, no thank you. It would be nice if we can have clothing and our toiletries since we were staying the night in Houston. We did our best to clear it up with him but we walked away from the counter seriously doubting our bags would be on the baggage claim belt in Houston.
Sure enough, two first class flights for Andy and two coach rides for the rest of us found us in Houston at 11:30pm with exactly two bags on the baggage claim, Patrik and Claudia’s. Becca and Ryan had carried on their luggage so we were the only ones sans clothes. It turns out that the plane flying out of Boise was apparently not making weight so they just decided to huck our bags off the plane and route them to San Francisco…because that makes complete sense. I find it ironic that they take such pains to treat the people with high frequent flyer program status with all the perks and yet when they have to remove two bags from the plane, they take the person with the highest points who is traveling internationally, but whatever, it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world. The only complicating factor was that we were sharing a room with Becca and Ryan in Houston so in an effort to be discreet, our lack of pajamas had me sleeping in Becca’s running shorts. We made it work though and grabbed four and a half hours of shut eye before it was back to the airport via the strange little Disneyland-like train for the final leg of our journey.
Here I am thinking I was going to write the entire Belize experience in one post and I am this far in and we haven’t even arrived in Belize yet. This is going to be a multi-post story.
Just as the United baggage attendant had promised at midnight, we received a call at 5:30 am saying our bags had just arrived from San Francisco after taking their own, solo, western United States journey. We picked them up in the Houston baggage claim area a little after 6 am and even the baggage claim employees were perplexed as to why our bags had been removed from the plane and sent to San Francisco.
We went through security in Houston and attempted to order a healthy breakfast in a food court crowded with people. Before long, it was time to board and we were finally on our way out of the country. This is the disadvantage of flying to the Caribbean from the West, it is quite the journey to get there and it often requires an overnight stay in an airport. If some airline would figure out a way to cater to the western US market traveling to the Caribbean and get them to their destination without an overnight stay, they could make a killing.
The flight went be very quickly as I was immersed in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. We arrived into the wonderful humidity and heat of Belize and immediately relaxed as a Caribbean band situated at baggage claim welcomed us with their beautiful notes.
While we waited for our baggage, I headed to Duty Free to check out the offerings. The booze was cheap so I bought a bottle of Petron Anejo and Ryan bought some wine and Baileys. In the midst of checking out, we figured out that the currency exchange was two Belize dollars to every one American dollar. That would make things easy.
I headed to the bathroom to change out of my jeans and into some clothing more suitable for tropical weather. Before we knew it, we had found our ride holding a sign with letters spelling “Hoobing” and were in a van on our way to the water taxi that would spend the next 80 minutes serving us rum punch and transporting us to Casa Rana on the north part of Ambergris Caye Island.
The ride left much to be desired as the design of the boat had us inhaling fumes from the engines (there were three of them) and the lack of windows made it difficult to take in the first scenes of Belize, but from what we could see, it was beautiful! As we would soon learn the boat’s design did had a very practical function in that you could ride in it in a rainstorm without getting wet. In the near future, we would wish we had access to this boat again.
During the boat ride, we learned a lot about Belize from one of the boat captains. One piece of sage advice given to the gentlemen of our crew was that they would not want to drink Belekin Lite House, the beer they had purchased at the dock to drink during the water taxi, anywhere in public because it is apparently a “girly beer.” Duly noted.
Another interesting tidbit was that the water was very shallow in most of the area we were driving through and that all of those sticks in the water indicated there was a lobster trap just below the surface of the water. Lobster season had just opened the day before. Our timing was good!
Around noon on Saturday we arrived at Casa Rana with Diana, the caretaker and owner of the house, waiting for us on the dock ready to welcome us to our home away from home for the next week. It didn’t even take a moment to predict that we were going to like it here.
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