Chapter 2: Arrival

Published: October 6th 2017
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Chapter Two: Arrival

From my iPhone, quickly Bluetooth paired to the Sony music player In Casa Brisa, Corinne Bailey Rae sings in Choux Pasty Heart, “Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose.” The weather has made us losers this afternoon. Immediately after I came to that realization, God sent a lightning bolt too near for comfort to Cayo Espanto, momentarily drowning out the sound of pounding rain that reduced visibility to fifty yards or so. Our roof served as drum heads for the onslaught of water which, thankfully, fell straight down influenced by not a breath of wind. The downside to that was that the interior of our beautiful lodging was heavy air, open on four sides to the 100%!h(MISSING)umidity, stirred by a pair of ceiling fans that struggled to keep up.

But I am getting ahead of myself. I think I should relay this chronologically for full impact.

After arriving in Belize City, being met just after immigration and customs by a smiling Cayo representative with a Russell/Raff sign, then efficiently handed off to another smiling handler who checked us in for our connecting Maya Airlines flight and who then saw us through another layer of security to a typical island waiting lounge, the weather was unremarkable and the vibe was positive.

Walking across the tarmac to the Maya Airways ten-passenger Britten Norman BN2 no-aisle aircraft, the skies, albeit overcast, again held. Immediately cleared for takeoff we made the fifteen-minute low altitude flight across the water to San Pedro Town. The skies tore open just in time to get us wet as we dashed from a dry spot under the wing to another tiny dry spot under a narrow eve which bordered the outdoor baggage claim.

Again, a smiling Cayo representative held a sign with our names and, after asking for the claim check for our single checked bag, asked our driver to fetch an oversized umbrella to keep us dry (too late) on the short walk to our minivan taxi.

I welcomed the minivan in the rain. Most everyone else who arrived at about this same time was being driven off in “gator” type vehicles with canvas bikini tops and open sides. They, unlike us, were all getting very wet.

Driving the half-mile or so to the pier, it became clear that the rain had become our unwelcome traveling companion. The bumpy gravel road hosted deep potholes whose bottoms hid beneath brown water. But, the real surprise greeted us at the dock where the final leg of our transport waited: a ten-passenger fiberglass outboard-driven open runabout that sported a canvas roof that had seen more than its share of weather.

With a smile from our Cayo staff, we were each handed Frog Togs.

Frog Togs are plastic pants and hoodie/windbreakers which one slips on over whatever one is wearing at the time (which for us was wet clothes). The walk from the van to the boat, however, revealed just how inadequate these garments would be in what had now grown into a full downpour. Thankfully our escorts came equipped with heavy duty garbage bags to encase our suitcase, my backpack and B4’s tote bag. The bags arrived at Cayo Espanto much dryer than either B4 or I did as the rain pelted us so hard that we had to face astern to avoid painful horizontal sheets blasting our faces as we made our way across waters where visibility was near nil at times.

Upon arrival, gone was the advertised “Downton Abbey” style welcome with Cayo staffers smiling as they lined up on the pier to greet us. No one in their right mind would have lined the pier this day and the staff was united in being in their right minds. We landed on the Casa Brisa dock so our walk was but a few feet to the sanctuary of our room where, at last, we were quickly greeted by a guest relations person whose name we think was Rita. Our minds were elsewhere. As we struggled to strip off our rain gear she attempted to hastily explain this and that about the room, I was anything but all ears as I removed my soaking wet shoes and socks and wanted to get out of my wet pants but could not as long as Rita remained.

Our two housemen followed with a lunch/snack; by now it was 1:45 and we were hungry. A sandwich cut into fourths, a veggie plate and some sliced fruit tasted good as we sat on our veranda just inches from the falling rain. Visibility improved as we ate and it actually stopped raining twice during our meal, each time making us think that the weather would improve. It did not.

We unpacked, B4 got out her book (Jason Matthews’ ‘Red Sparrow’ which has her completely engaged and is soon to become a major motion picture starring Jennifer Lawrence) and, after finding enough electrical outlets to power our many devices and pairing my phone so we could have some music, I sat down to write this.

Picking up our dirty dishes, our butler inquired if we wanted anything else. We were at a loss what to ask for, he looked at us and suggested coffee. We accepted that as being the best idea for the moment. The welcoming vodka concoction that I had read about was long forgotten by all of us.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Cayo cannot control the weather but the boat ride is well within their power to make acceptable. Instead, it was a demoralizing torturous ride. Did I mention that the outboard motor slipped out of gear twice causing us to fear that we would be adrift en route to our unseen destination? It did. Did I mention that I apologized to B4 for this inauspicious beginning to what was to be an idyllic few days? Bless her, she laughed the whole thing off.

The rain continues to steadily fall, Corrine serenades and I am going to wrap this up and switch to a John le Carre novel I brought along.

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