Belize~Tue. May, 18, 2004 ~ Return to Reality

We wake to find Yellow Kitty sleeping at the foot of the bed. He has not been seen since the first night but he showed up yesterday evening. The cat had spent a night with Scott and his clan; everyone in the complex has fed him. Poor little fella. Yeah, right! He is saying the final a good-by.

Coffee is made and the way is made onto the porch. Passing the packed bags is an unpleasant sight. Don’t look at them. Maybe they will go away. After a few cups of java the porch is given a final sweep. Funny thing…loved to sweep that porch even though Myra did it every day. A bit of breakfast is prepared and is enjoyed on the porch, too. People pass, boat activity on the sea is in full swing, the sunshines brightly and there is a nice breeze. This breeze is perfect. Definitely calmer than upon arrival and much better than no breeze. Miguel can’t be found. He must have had a well-deserved night off.

Scott and the ladies finally appear on their porch. Addresses are exchanged and the week’s adventures relived. All agree; Tulu is the best guide on earth. The end result of their cancelled mainland trip is revealed. The fee had been paid to the resort that booked the trip but they claimed not to have the money and so did Searious. After a full day of the royal run-around the police department was dispatched to the resort. Suddenly the fee was reimbursed in full.

Angie joins me inside and the process of cleaning out the fridge and cupboards begin. All that would have to be disposed of is given to them. She’s ecstatic to have the Pico de Gallo and the other goodies. That eleven-pound watermelon still has a long ways to go before vanishing. That job done, a few other details are tended to such as picking up a bit and placing everything that isn’t returning with us in a pile for Myra to use, if she wishes. The last of the BZ dollars along with a thank-you note is left for her. She had earned a nice tip and received one.

A hasty retreat is made back to the porch. Time is spent ingraining every small detail into the little gray cells. Feet are dragging and dressing for departure is being delayed. Tears well and are fought back. Darned if the morning in such a beautiful place will be spent wasted on tears. Time moves slowly, thank goodness, but Tulu has not been by yet and it is getting closer to noon. The door is open. Damn that clock! Will good-by not be said to Tulu or Miguel? Maybe he has a tour to take out. A bit of jealousy erupts. At last, a familiar figure on a bicycle comes along the beachfront. Big smiles and friendly chatter takes place. All too soon the bittersweet parting takes place. A friend will be missed.

It can be delayed no longer. I dress and the final items are packed. One last inspection of the rooms made. No. Nothing left that should not be. The bags set ready to go. One last thing is needed: a trip onto the beach for the toes in the sand picture. It didn’t turn out quite as wanted but my son liked it because it shows the time of day.

Once again, onto the porch. There is Miguel! Yippee!!! We sit under the palm trees in the Adirondack style chairs and visit. Why haven’t we sat here before? The view is lovely and the chairs are comfy. A grandchild wheels in on this bicycle and Miguel gives over the $25 BZ cents. What a beautiful child. A golf cart appears in front of the unit and the fellow goes upstairs to what we thought would be our place for the week. Of all things! It is the refrigerator repairman and in fifteen minutes he is finished with the job and gone. The slow moving barge finally arrived. Nellie will be happier now.

There is an interesting discussion about the size of tropical cockroaches. It is the tropics.
There are bugs. They do get inside a dwelling. We have killed several in the unit despite the bait set out for them. If one is squeamish about bugs, it is suggested to skip the next few lines. These guys are about two inches long and resemble a beetle. Not frightening at all, though they are quick. Miguel informs us they are they size of his hand on the mainland. Yikes! That will be committed to memory. He finds the discussion amusing.

Promptly at 12:15 p.m. Nellie arrives with Lulu, the taxi driver, to deliver us to the airport. Miguel is hugged tightly. Another friend will be missed. Only the baggage goes into the taxi. I settle beside Nellie and Dennis sits on the back seat. He has a desire to see what is being left behind. One last look of the town that has become home is needed. Nellie and I chat on the short ride to the airstrip. It would seem her home is also the office and we are instructed to come on in next time.

Arrival happens much too quickly and the bag is soon checked. Final good-byes are exchanged. We wait. The sea is not in view but the breeze can be felt. Eventually the little plane is boarded, the taxi begins and it rises into the air.

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Eyes are kept to the sea. The landing is quick, luggage follows even quicker. Bags claimed, the journey is made to the Continental desk.

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In no time the luggage is being searched. Getting about half way through my carry-on the security agent points to a bit of black plastic and asks, “What is this?” “A conch shell” is the reply. (protected reef thing…and I fully agree with the policy) Her eyes enlarge. Here goes. Are the shells going to make it into the States? These are not permissible in carry-on luggage and she’s not sure what Customs will do with them. Wait a minute. They are sold by the street vendors and have been cleaned. Is there no receipt for the shells? There is no receipt for most items purchased. The shells could be taken from the baggage, quarantined and kept. These are gifts and there is not one but six of them. Her eyes get even wider. She madly begins to repack the baggage and manages to pack every one of the shells into the checked luggage. The overweight baggage charge will be less than shipping costs. Heaven knows how she did it. Things are arranged among the three pieces of luggage. Next question. At what point will we know if the shells have arrived in the States? Will they be removed after you’ve searched the luggage? No, no, that is not the case…you have passed me. No problems should be encountered until U.S. Customs is reached. Groan. No baggage charge is requested. Whew! That hurdle is passed.

Boarding passes are issued and it is discovered the departure fee of $35.00 each was included in the ticket price. The extra cash comes in handy. The security check is cleared and into the departure lounge go the traveler’s. The shops are searched for a gift that had yet to be found and Black Coral jewelry is located. Purchases are made and it’s off to Jet’s.

Rum Punch and hot dogs are ordered. Pictures are taken with Jet but didn’t turn out. I’m kinda picky about a hotdog…of all things. This one comes adorned with mustard zigzagging along the bun, a sprinkling of onion, a length or catsup [yuck] in the center, topped with a dab of mayonnaise [yuck] and, something red on top of the mayonnaise. The bun is fresh but the wiener looks like it came from yesterday. Oh, well, dig in. Condiments are mixed together and spread around to cover the entire hot dog. Oh, my goodness!!! The red stuff in the mayonnaise is Marie’s Hot Sauce. This is fantastic! The mister has another one.

The customs form came with the boarding pass and is filled out. Do you have wildlife products? (the shells)….yes, no, yes, NO. Do you have food products? (the Recardo) yes, no, yes, NO. Eventually the flight is called and we board. Take off accomplished we settle in for the flight. A rainbow is seen. The Mexican coastline is spotted. Anyone know where this is?

The flight attendant says it is a dive spot north of Mexico. Landing at IAH is uneventful. Now, for the customs hurdle. Baggage is retrieved and way is made to the immigration line. Okay. Some questions about being on a ranch and do you have cheese are asked. No, no is the response. With a smile we are waved through. The shells have entered U.S. territory. Outside for a quick smoke we have a good laugh at a local man apologizing for the high humidity. This is not humid.

Up a ramp and down an escalator to the Continental desk. All is well. Baggage is fine. Security is cleared. There is now a trip on the Tram to change terminals. Another amusement park ride. We disembark to be confronted by three choices. Left will return one to where one started (empty corridor of construction), right appears to be more of the same and an elevator with one choice of up. (Houston could have better signs posted…there are none) A quick read of the board reveals the next flight is delayed. Surely, that has been read wrong. No. The connecting flight is delayed. The elevator is taken up and a silent, empty corridor is entered. (Thank Heaven, no moving sidewalks to deal with) A turn to the right, dragging luggage and the hub is before us.

Cover your ears. OH MY GOD! Standing at the entry into the hub, the noise is deafening. An intense desire to turn around and book a flight back to the island is considered. Reality sets in with full force. A brave front is put forward and seats are found in the departure lounge. Ladies, beware the restroom. It is badly designed, the size of a postage stamp and there is a very real possibility of being whacked by the door while waiting your turn.

We wait and visit with those around us. Dennis discovers the 64 MB digital camera card is missing. An attempt is made to have the previous airplane searched but the lady at the desk is not helpful. She tells him it will just be removed from the plane. Well, duh, lady! To our surprise a familiar face is spotted. It’s the young lady from Kansas that was met in OKC. She is trying to get home, also. Eventually the flight is called and the Embraer Jet is boarded. It has a single row of seats down one side and two on the other.

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There is little legroom and the seats are hard as rocks. As soon as the seat belt light goes out what is termed a pillow is placed under the bottom. Future hopes are that we never have to take another Embraer. Good as his word the pilot makes the flight short as possible and a smooth landing is made. Baggage is claimed without problems, the terminal shuttle is found and we are delivered to the car.

The parking fee is paid but it’s difficult to drop out of trip mode. Needing food and drink a stop is made at TGIF’s. They have the best bartenders and it’s not long before the trip is being relived with them. We close the place down and make a solemn drive home. Bags are dragged into the house and our son arrives shortly thereafter. Three happy animals greet us. Mom and Dad are back! Hours are spent answering questions about the trip and the bag is checked to see if the conch shells have made the journey intact. I’d had my doubts after hearing luggage thrown into the cargo bay at Houston. Fortunately, every single one of them is still perfect. In the wee hours of the morning, heads touch pillows, and we sleep. Rising in the morning, it is wondered if it was all a dream. The living room is littered with baggage, clothing, snorkel gear and lined in a row are six beautiful conch shells. There are the small shells, the ankle bracelets and the hat. For the return trip it was stuffed in the bag.

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The trip was real and we had the time of our lives! There is only one question left to ask. “How soon can arrangements be made for a return trip to La Isla Bonita?

Quote from a wise friend, "Don't cry because it's over; frown smile because it happened." smile

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