We woke up at the buttcrack, as we had been doing all week, but today it was different. Today we had to wake up early because we had to go home.
We gathered ourselves together and went outside to wait for Jose. 6:30 came and went. We decided to walk to the road to make it easier. Still no Jose. Finally a Previa came up the road, flashing its lights! But it wasn't Jose. We felt bad, but we couldn't wait any longer. We clambered in and took off toward town.
We picked up another couple along the way, and I'm kind of climbing the walls because I don't want to miss the ferry. Which makes me wonder how long, exactly, I would have to be in a tropical paradise before I started walking slower and stopped worrying about being on time.
We clamber out of the minivan at the main taxi stand. The girl we picked up steps on my feet, hard, without realizing it. Everything is a tangle of paying the cabbie, gathering suitcases, etc. We walk toward the dock and are met by some ferry company employees who ask us if we want to take an earlier ferry. I believe there are two ferry companies that go to the island, and I wasn't sure our return ticket would get us there, so we showed it to them and they told us to get on the 7:00. Which didn't actually leave at seven. But hey! No worries - we were going to be early! Plus it meant that we didn't have to sit and say goodbye while looking longingly back at the island as she walked away from us.
As we are talking to the ferry guys, I happen to see the retired Navyman walking down the street. I wave goodbye sadly.
The girl who stepped on my foot gets a red Gatorade from the concession stand at the dock, and that looks pretty darn good. So I make Hubband get me one too; he gets himself a Coke Light. Since I have just brushed my teeth, the red Gatorade is utterly nasty.
|plus this... equals uck.|
The hubband very kindly trades me.
We get on the ferry, which is much nicer and newer than the one we took from the mainland. Its fire extinguishers are hidden from the cabin - I presume it did have fire extinguishers.
We chillax until Caye Caulker, when we add a few people going to the mainland. We have an uneventful ride to Belize.
Upon arrival at the marina, it feels really weird to do everything in reverse. They have a cab stand and we are assigned a cabbie. We trundle into the car and are on our way. It is ridiculously hot already - it's not even 8:30 AM. This seems to be the way of things here - on non-windy days, it is just as hot at seven as it will be at noon. Foreign to our temperate-climate ways, but definitely not a bother when you have pool or ocean nearby.
We pass through town and go past all the local businesses on our way to Ladyville, which is the town in which the airport is actually located. Kind of like how O'Hare is in Des Plaines.
The air smells delicious even in the swampy delta-lands, and I am so, so sad to leave.
We get there, pay our cabbie, and walk back into the airport. The Delta counter is not open and will not be open till 9:30. It's maybe a quarter to nine. Since I don't think I can wait till we are checked in and don't want to miss the arrival of the ticket agents by going to the airport's restaurant, I coerce the hubband into buying me a candy bar and a soda at the souvenir shop. He has to spend $20 to use a credit card, so he also procures himself a Belikin shirt.
I gratefully gobble my Snicker bar and down my Coke Light. I wanted to try to wait so I could have a real breakfast, but I didn't want to scream at the ticket agents about how my ticket wouldn't print out. Do you KNOW what happens if you piss off a ticket agent in a foreign country?? You can just kiss getting home goodbye. Fer rill.
When it finally reached 9:30, we got in line and got our tickets. It turned out that hubband had been randomly chosen for special security check, which is why I wasn't able to check him in online the day before. We made our way through security to our gate.
The waiting area at this particular airport is adorable. It had like three duty-free shops, a few souvenir shops, a French patisserie, and a neon bar. They had cases of Belikin that you could buy at duty-free, and I really thought about it, but I was afraid that we wouldn't actually be able to get a bunch of glass bottles home safely. So I left it behind. Which is okay, because Hubband said he knew how to get it here. And there are a FEW distributors here, so hopefully it can be accomplished by a trip to Chicago.
We wait, and eat a terrible piece of pizza, and laugh at a statue designed to remove your stress. I don't know if Di Big Kahuna Stress God really removes your stress, but I can tell you unequivocally that Belize will remove your stress.
Our flight arrives and begins boarding. And not a moment too soon, because the INCREDIBLY stinky long-haired missionary from the Deep South that was sitting behind us was starting to severely test my patience.
Hubband is kept back for his special security search, which was a little offputting because one of the guards commanded me to continue to the plane without him.
He boarded last and we took off shortly thereafter. Here is our last view of our new favorite place:
Oh, Belize, we miss you so.
So we get to Hotlanta right at rush hour. The skinny is that you go from the international terminal (hello, sweet darling!) through Customs, and then to a special baggage area. You get your checked bags and give them to a domestic baggage guy. Then you go through security (hello, less-horrible body scanner!) and back into the domestic terminal. The hubband was climbing the walls by the time we got to the escalators for the domestic terminal - he was really wanting a cigarette. Let's just say we CHOSE POORLY when we chose a Customs line. He was really nice, but very thorough with the people in front of us. He legit covered our customs form when he was quizzing us about what we were bringing back in. So it took us a while to get fully from one terminal to another.
Hub hit the smoking lounge and I found our gate. I turned on my phone for the first time since the last time we were in Atlanta - I was afraid that somehow I would get crazy roaming charges if I had it on while we were in Belize.
Hub got us hot dogs and we waited to board. We got the fun 747 on the way home with those screens that show where you are, how fast you are going, etc. We got off a little late due to lines for takeoff, but our captain was D.E.T.E.R.M.I.N.E.D. to get us home on time, and he was helped by a 50-mile-per-hour tailwind.
We arrived and Hub was bummed that the Starbucks in the airport wasn't open. We grabbed our luggage and proceeded to the car to take our medicine for my decision to park in the garage. I was afraid it was going to be like $250. But it was only (!) $119. It was expensive, but totally worth it. We didn't have to wait for the shuttle, it was great.
It's Friday night, about 10:30 ish. We decide to go to LHOP (what one of my aunt's clients called IHOP). Shockingly, it wasn't horribly busy, although I have a theory about the late-night state of all-night diners once smoking was banned. It was kind of a mess, though. Food wasn't being turned out in a timely fashion, there were two different like twelve-tops, and when I came in I was ignored because everyone was doing their sidework.
But can I just belabor the Culture Shock point by telling you that I was wearing sandals? And neither of us had coats? Yeah. It was chilly.
We get home and I am VERY pleased to note that my camera wasn't stolen out of my car while we were gone. That was a TOTAL boner on my part - I forgot it was back there, and then we took Hubband's car to the airport instead of mine. Whoops. So we retrieved it and entered our house for the first time in a week.
Everything was as we'd left it, the alarm hadn't gone off, and life was good. We cranked the heat (you didn't think I'd leave it up while we were gone, did you?!?!?) and went to bed snuggled under Quiltie.
Disclaimer: My opinions are solely my own; they are not necessarily those of anyone else with whom I associate.