You betta Belize it!!!

Published: November 30th 2012
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Our title is from a t-shirt... well, a zillion t-shirts to be exact!!! Needless to say, our last full day on the island was super relaxing. We read, talked, sunned, and were able to pack leisurely. One quick, but important observation we have made during this trip - - having very few scheduled excursions and events has reduced stress considerably. At breakfast we hear others talking about the day to come, which is filled with being somewhere at a certain time, rushing to get this or that accomplished or figuring out the next move. Through observation of others, we began to realize that people are so much more worried about doing and planning everything then they are about enjoying their time together. We have been guilty of exactly the same thing on various trips. However, we realize that if we had been set on doing all of the things offered on the island, through tours, we probably would not have had so much opportunity to get to know the local people and hear their stories. Is it better to see the “sights” that have been touted locally and posted on Trip Advisor or to get a chance to immerse oneself into the local culture? We suppose that question is up to the individual. It only stands to reason that each individual needs to decide for him or herself, what type of entertainment is being sought when traveling for vacation? This question is of a personal nature. One the one hand, Disneyworld, cruise ships, all inclusive resorts and Branson, Missouri are better options for keeping busy by others providing easy entertainment and luxury. For the most part, from here on out, we think that will stick to exploring the Caye Caulkers and Cuscos of the world and do so at our own pace. They may not provide constant excitement, but the one thing they do provide is an endless supply of local stories and friendships to last a lifetime. Of course, we are lucky enough to have had and continue to have opportunities for comparison and we are constantly counting our blessings.

On the 26th, we were eating lunch at a local hangout and saw the Chef (from whom we had purchased pastries and a Thanksgiving dinner two days ago) with his cart (remember him, the one that promised us Thanksgiving dinner, for which we pre-paid and did not get?). Clay got up and went to talk to him in the street. Clay told him that he had three options. The options were, (1) bring us the food as promised; (2) give us back our money ; or (3) “This is a small island… we don’t want to go to option three brother.” After hemming and hawing, looking at the sky and trying to make up some story of mis-delivery, he gave Clay back our $20. Just not Chef’s day! (Us one… Chef ZERO!)

The 27th, was time to say our goodbyes and make ready for our departure. We took our cart around one last time and said our goodbyes to our new found peeps - - Captain Jacob (Clay bought a ball cap for use on this trip and it was brand new, we signed it and gave it to our new friend as a token to remember us by), Jacob (the burgeoning business man and fisherman… however, unfortunately, he was cleaning fish somewhere), the wood carving man (we bought a craving for our new home in Morocco and Clay fixed his DVD player), Lily (the unfortunate pedicurist), and many more. We wished everyone a good life and they did the same. It was a bit overwhelming to know that in such a short time, we had bonded with these truly wonderful and unique people of this beautiful island. We also intimately discovered a little piece of the world which until now, we did not know existed, but had now been opened up to us and has become a part of our lives.

This day is the only cloudy day we have seen thus far! We had one of our new friends from the hotel drive us into town on our cart and drop us off at the water taxi. Along the way, we passed the gentleman who actually rented us the cart and he wished us well too. When we reached the water taxi, we were set to head back to Belize City and on to the airport. When we arrived in Belize City, we had some time to kill, so we decided to put our packs on our backs (Ann sighs about the heaviness of it) and look around outside the water taxi terminal and tourist area. About 5 minutes later, we returned to the tourist area! Seriously, there was nothing to see except the standard craft market and beyond that, nothing looked the slightest bit inviting and with heavy packs on our backs, we made pretty inviting targets for mayhem! We had heard that Belize City is badly crime-ridden, which is such a shame because it is situated in such a beautiful location. We decided to heed the warnings, which were now confirmed by our own, and head to the airport.

Clay had some fun negotiating $5 off our taxi ride. The normal rate is $25USD and when a man approached us and said he had a good deal for us… $25USD, Clay said, “So yea… that’s the normal rate. What’s special about that?” We won the reduced price, prize. It would seem that the man we spoke to was only a cab broker, and after reaching a deal, the cab was hailed and we jumped in. As usual, we struck up a conversation with the driver and he was really interesting! He is a bridge player and apparently is quite good at the game. He has travelled all over the world to attend tournaments, including such places as Spain, Chicago and Cuba. He found great pleasure in describing how he “trashed” the other players by “knowing their cards.” He said that Cuban people “cheat” by using signs to tell their partners what cards they have. How we love to hear people’s stories and relish the joy they take in the telling of them!

After our initial arrival at the Belize International Airport, we headed to the only restaurant in the airport and were offered a choice of three menu items - - period. However, both items we chose were quite good. However, Clay had a sort of chicken burrito and it apparently was made from fresh chicken, as he was delighted to bite into his sandwich and pull out a very sharp bone. We made light of it and laughed about how the mention of a lawsuit here over such a thing would be absolutely crazy. We were grateful that Clay did not choke.

After lunch, we still had a couple of hours to kill, so we waited in the airport for a bit. There were at least six stores filled with Belize “mementos.” In one store, there was a young lady leaning over the counter and grimacing over paperwork. Clay asked her why she looked so happy to be there and she said that she wanted to go home. She answered that she was studying and she just wanted to rest. Ann asked her what she was studying and she replied, “Business.” We explained that one of our sons just got his master’s in business and that he still complains! She explained that she was in college and was working, with two kids at home. She talked about how life was difficult. We told her that we understood, as Ann had done the same, and that her children would see her as a good role model. After the conversation that followed, we were leaving the store and said that, “We are sorry you have to study today… but at least now you are smiling!” She laughed and thanked us. If we made someone feel good and smile today, then at least we gave back something for all we received in return by meeting the wonderful people on this trip.

See photos of the airport and plane (surprisingly, it actually held 12 people, with only ten seats!). Our pilots looked about 13. It rained, we swayed a bit, but we landed safely in Flores in just about an hour. We went out to find a taxi, and again, eerie, small world stuff, Carlos (the driver who had taken us to Tikal a week ago), was with his taxi at the airport. We were standing with our luggage when he yelled, “Amigos!” Seriously… this is a small world and Flores is not a small town!. We would have been on our way, but first, Carlos wanted to see if he could round up a few more takers for his trip into town. (that happens a lot here). And, he did!!! The first was a man purportedly from “Hollywood” who told us he knew about half of the movie stars - - Suuuuuure, OK. He was not a very confident person, as he told us he was completely relieved when we told him that Carlos was legit. (He was worried he was going to get rolled!) He told us that he had been thinking about how the driver might take him off into the woods and rob him. The other folks consisted of a family from the US (although Mom looked Hispanic and spoke Spanish very well) with three kids. They were extremely nice and polite. We were the first persons to be delivered to our hotel (Casa Azul, where we stayed one night earlier) and we wished everyone well and a safe journey.

At the hotel, we met another couple from Florida and ended up sharing much information about Antigua and our wonderful, previous hostess and travel agent, Gerlinde. Hopefully they will hook up with her. We headed back to the restaurant where we had previously ordered take out and sat down to dinner. Ann had a reunion with her friend, Chi Charro, the cat. We had a nice, leisurely dinner looking over the Peten River (Clay was happy to get a piece of black and blue beef and Ann had home-made ravioli!). If you are ever in Flores, do not miss the Terrazzo restaurant. This local knows his food and the atmosphere is fantastic, all for a low price. Chi Charro will be sipping her/his ice water from a shot glass at the bar and a breeze will be unwittingly encouraging you to relax.

We will be leaving Guatemala’s city life forever, as tomorrow we head for a unique river adventure on the Rio Dulce (“sweet river”). As we reach our half-way point in this Central American adventure, we say thanks to all of our followers and friends we have made along the way. We are excited to have some people that we do not even know, following and encouraging us. (Hello to our new Canadian friends!) We hope to keep some of you entertained most of the time and most of you entertained some of the time… but no matter what, every one of you will have our gratitude as we make continued treks through this beautiful part of the world. We hope that you have enjoyed our blog as much as we have enjoyed sharing our adventures with you.

Additional photos below
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30th November 2012

Leaving Belize
Your entry today was long but very colorful and interesting. Liked the pictures a lot. Have fun!

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