Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bound for Belize, baby!

Today Team WestEnders set off on their Summer 2017 adventure…reeeeaaally early--as in, the alarm went off at 4:20 a.m. If that wasn’t shocking enough, we rolled out of the house at 4:50, which has to be some kind of family record…although in retrospect, it might have been at least in part due to the fact that the boys weren’t even truly awake, just blindly following simple orders like “Put on your shoes” and “Get in the car”. Then on the ride to the airport, suddenly everyone (except me, it goes without saying) wanted to TALK. Seriously, people? It’s still dark outside--can we all just agree to be calm, quiet and mildly disgruntled for a while?

Fortunately, at that beastly hour we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare, so at least there was no “stress” element to complicate our weary journey. Riley did have a small bit of excitement in the Security line, as they arbitrarily assigned him a TSA Pre-Check pass, allowing him the benefit of leaving his shoes on…and whatnot. In his fragile low-blood-sugar state, however, he decided to take umbrage with this decision, ranting that, “They’d better not pick me because they think I’m 12!” Um…nooooo, honey, I don’t think anyone will look at your 5-foot-9 frame--and whiskers--and mistake you for a tween anymore. After that he changed his mind and milked it for a while, answering every question—whether appropriate or not—with “Well, you know, I AM TSA Pre-Check.” (Until I whacked him with his passport enough times to discourage this behavior.)

Anyway, I would characterize flight #1, a packed plane to Ft. Lauderdale, as smooth (little turbulence), silent (not even a peep from any munchkins who might have been on board), and sleepy (for the obvious reasons)…with Starbucks (which I’d brought with me). Once we landed and scoped out the airport, the top priority was (not surprisingly) FOOD, since it was finally a decent hour to eat. However, we were disappointed to find the terminal pretty small, offering only what we deemed to be a lame selection of dining options. Nevertheless, we made do, since we had a hefty layover until commencing the next leg of our excursion.

Even though I pointed out that we had now successfully left home, the boys firmly declared that we weren’t “on vacation” yet, just “traveling”. (The biggest laugh of this portion of our trip came when I turned to Derek and asked, “Hey, is it time for you to get up yet?” To which he laughingly-but-vehemently replied, “NO, it’s NOT!” Sorry, teenager—being an international jet-setter means hauling your butt out of bed for the cause!) 

From there, we (at last) boarded our next airplane, headed for Belize. Again, the airtime was uneventful…until I looked out the window when the Captain announced our “final approach” and saw…lots of green below us. Excuse me, I don’t want to be a bother, but is there some kind of, you know, “runway-type-thingie” we’re headed towards? At the last minute, a tiny airport appeared, and we did, in fact, land on a strip of concrete, rather than a hiking path, which was reassuring. We disembarked via a staircase, instead of a tunnel, and were herded into Customs—which proved to be the usual delightful experience. Especially because Southwest had given us misinformation, telling us that only one form per family was needed…when really they wanted EACH of us to have our own. So we, and the rest of the people who’d been on our flight, spent some minutes standing around and filling out the requisite number of papers to fulfill the regulation.

Then we showed our passports no fewer than 3 times, once for each new line we were instructed to queue up in, until we ultimately ended up in a packed waiting room with wooden benches. “No problem,” we thought, “since it’ll only be about a half-hour until our next jaunt.” Yeeeaaah, about that…from the resort’s website, I’d gathered that Belize lies in the Central Time Zone (a one-hour difference)…when it actually is TWO hours behind the East Coast. So we had more time than we’d anticipated…to sit around some more. Oh well—it was definitely feeling like a substantial trek, at this point (for better or worse…).

This was borne out when we were led outside to our next mode of transportation…a 10-SEATER PROP PLANE, for crying out loud. Holy guacamole, folks, I’m not sure how I feel about this…not that I had a choice in the matter, of course. Honestly, though, it was fascinating--once we got safely in the air--to peer out the windows at the ground, not so very far below. You could certainly appreciate the terrain from that vantage point—forests and rivers and the coastline and eventually clusters of buildings that marked the small pocket of civilization at which we were apparently aiming.

But wait, we weren’t quite done yet! (Siiiiigh…even though we’d been up for almost 12 hours, but who was counting? Oh yeah: all of us…) We had one more piece of the travel puzzle to complete: a 45-minute van ride to the resort. Our driver did his best to make this interesting, regaling us with facts about Belize, such as “it’s similar in size to Vermont, with only about 370,000 people” and “they grow lots of oranges, but export the juice in concentrate form, to prevent spoilage” and “English and Creole are both spoken, along with Spanish and some Mayan dialects”. (Yes, I was listening—you never know when there’ll be some kind of, I don’t know…Pop Vacation Quiz? It’s best to be prepared, I always say…or whatever…)

At long last (drumroll) we arrived! Whoo hoo! We were greeted with a cold lime-y drink (I have no idea what it was, but it was delicious) and told that, although the kitchen was officially closed at that time, they’d make us something anyway, because they didn’t want their honored guests to starve. Well, I’m liking this place already! After some super-tasty nachos, we were free to explore the grounds—the pool, the ocean, the rooftop deck…so much to see! Before we crash from exhaustion! We wandered around, checked in with the Adventure Center to confirm our tours for the week, and most importantly, stuck our toes in the sand and (Caribbean) surf.

Now our last order of “business” for the day is to wander over to dinner, and see what’s on the menu this evening. Then we’ll most likely go the heck to BED, since we’ve been moving for a loooooong time, and our Rainforest and Waterfall Hike leaves at 7 a.m. tomorrow…sooooo, peace out for now from Belize!

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