A new year, time for another trip. I definitely wanted to start the new year on a good note so it was time once again for another trip outside the country. I planned this one with my new friends Melanie and Troy whom I had met on my Intrepid tour of Morocco this past March. We all enjoyed that tour so much that we decided to do another Intrepid tour, this time to Belize. After a long day's work, I left LAX airport on Friday night for my red-eye flight to Miami. In Miami, I would meet up with Melanie and Troy at La Carreta, a Cuban restaurant located in the airport. The flight with American Airlines was uneventful and we arrived on time in Miami at around 5:30am. With the unusually cold weather conditions going on on the east coast, I was a little worried that Melanie and Troy would not be able to fly out of New York. Their flight ended up being delayed so we couldn't meet up at the Cuban restaurant for breakfast but at least they made it to Miami for our connecting flight to Belize City.
It was a quick 2 hour flight to
Belize City as we landed at one of the smallest airports I had even been to. While in line to get through customs, Melanie and Troy took the opportunity to announce to me that they had just found out she was pregnant. I was in a bit of a shock but also happy for them. It's going to be interesting to see how this would affect her ability to enjoy this trip. We withdrew some Belizean Dollars and caught a taxi to our hotel, the Chateau Carribbean. The drive from the airport to the hotel was very quiet as we drove through some unsavory parts of town. Everything that I had read prior to coming here had indicated to stay clear of Belize City. Many parts were unsafe for visitors even during the day and driving through the city en route to the airport, I can see why. Our hotel, the Chateau Carribbean was in a more safer part of the city along the ocean. However the moment we walked in, it was clear that this property had seen better days. After checking in and freshening up, we visited the hotel bar for our first taste of Belikin, the most
popular Belizean beer. We had a late lunch at a nearby restaurant called Celebrities. The server at the hotel bar had recommended a few local places but uncertainty with our safety in the city prompted us to just choose a more well known restaurant close by. As we walked around we noticed a surprisingly large amount of signs in Chinese and concluded that there must be a relatively large Chinese population here in Belize. After lunch, we went back to our rooms to rest up for a bit before meeting the rest of our Intrepid tour members at 6pm. Our group had a surprisingly high number of Americans most likely due to this being a short 8 day trip. In addition to Troy, Melanie, and myself, we meet Ken who is a college professor at a university in Michigan, Lindy who comes from the San Francisco Bay area, Lalanti an Indian girl attending Columbia University as a Phd student, Manfred a 70 year old retiree from Chicago, Nikki from Houston, and Oren an IT specialist and amateur photographer from Toronto. Not at the meeting was Kirsten and Toni, 2 sisters from Australia traveling through Central and South America. Our group leader is Daniel from Guatemala. He had never lead a Belize tour prior to this trip and was assigned to this tour at the last minute. His inexperience with Belize would become a bit apparent at various points of the trip. After our introduction meeting, we all gathered upstairs for our first group dinner together where we spent the evening sharing our various travel experiences with each other.
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