Adventures in Belize: Day One – Just Get Us There

Technically, the adventure started the night before when a representative from American Airlines called us at 11:30pm to tell us that our 8:30am flight had been rescheduled and we could either take a 6:45am to Dallas then on to Belize an hour later than anticipated, or take the 8:30am to Miami, spend the day in Miami, and then catch the flight to Belize the following day.  Forget that, we thought.  Yeah, we’d have to get up at 4 in the morning, but we didn’t want to waste a whole day! So off to bed we went for a quick nap and a few hours later we were off to what we figured would be an empty airport.

Not so much. There had to have been 900 people there, all trying to get their luggage checked and their boarding passes. At 4:30am. Awesome. We made it through security and found our gate, mindful that we were with J’s aunt who hasn’t traveled in 30 years who must think this whole thing is SO not worth the hassle. (Porter Airlines, I love  you even more after this trip!) We piled ourselves on to the plane, sitting in various sections and zonked out within 20 minutes. Fortunately, it’s a relatively smooth ride and we didn’t need to rush to catch our connecting flight to Belize. We were able to sit and have some proper breakfast (the clemmies at 5:15 didn’t hold us long) of huevos rancheros, fresh tortillas and refried beans. It’s surprisingly good, considering it’s airport food.

After breakfast, we had some boarding pass sortin’ to do as the automatic “easy pass” machine in Toronto spat out two passes for J, but nothing for me. Way to go, technology. Passes sorted, we watched comings and goings of other passengers and pondered the reason for the weird, metal castle-like sculpture in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. We met a guy from Denver who was headed to Caye Caulker to meet up with a friend. In a recurring theme of this trip, we will see him several times in Belize. It’s a small place!

Upon landing in Belize, we are greeted by the sites of palm trees, blue skies and the Belikin Beer Bottling Plant. Belikin is pretty much the only beer you can get in Belize and, fortunately, it’s really good and remarkably cheap. We bought up everything in the duty free store that was requested of us (read: booze) and headed outside, expecting to see my in-laws waiting for us.

They…are not there.

We figured they had come early, realized our flight was delayed and went to grab a bite.

We waited 10, 20, 30 minutes.  Still no sign of them.

We wracked our brains trying to think of who we could call, as the in-laws are renting a house and we didn’t have their address or phone number. (Way to plan, I know.) We eventually remembered an address for J’s cousin so J got on the phone with the operator, made a collect call and reached his cousin. “Oh! J! How are you? Are you in Miami?” “Noo! We’re in Belize! No one knows we’re here, do they?” “Oh! No! I’ll call your parents right away. Just stay there!” Okay. Now we were feeling better. We grabbed a couple of pops and a couple of johnny cakes with ham & cheese inside and sat tight. As the airport was closing down for the day, we saw a huge, 1980’s era Oldsmobile flying up the driveway. Hearts soared, hugs were exchanged, luggage was tossed in the trunk and we had finally arrived.

My first - but not last - Belikin.

Arriving at the house on Nurse Seay street, we happily changed out of our Toronto clothes (bye bye, pants!) and into much more weather-appropriate gear. We had our first beer and sat in the spacious living room, enjoying the cool breeze on a hot night. We thought we’d be staying there that night but, instead, the in-laws put us up at the Radisson right on the sea as they couldn’t get ahold of an extra bed that night. No prob. We repacked our luggage as we were off to the Cayes the next day and wouldn’t need everything we had brought. The plan was to jet off to see the Belize family for a quick visit, dinner, and then craaaaaaaaaashing in our hotel room.

But first, there was the matter of *getting* to the family’s house.

Getting a cab in Belize on a Sunday night is no easy feat. J and his dad were going to walk over to the plaza but J had an excellent idea and asked if, perhaps, they could ask the guy who lived downstairs to just call a cab for us instead of wandering out in the dark…not something one should in Belize City do if one can avoid it.  Turns out the guy is a cousin of J’s and was more than happy to call.

“Boy, send me a cab for…how many people?’
“Five people. And we have a suitcase.”
“Boy, I need a cab for five people…you ain’t got a big cab? Send me…the largest small cab ya got.”

A sedan showed up. We all piled in with J’s aunt in the front, then his dad, mom and J…and I was on J’s lap. It was like a Belizean clown car when we all tumbled out upon arrival. The family could not have been more gracious or welcoming, especially considering this was the first time I had met many of them. The person I was most excited to see was the birthday girl, Aunt Haidie, who was to celebrate her 96th birthday that week. My friends, I hope to be as sharp and in as good health at that age!

So, after spending some time at the house – and thanking them profusely for rescuing us from the airport – we all squished back into the “largest small cab ya got” and headed over to the Radisson for what was to be an excellent meal and a bellwether for the meals to come. Fresh, flavourful, well-cooked meals were most definitely a hallmark of this trip. (Oh, and if you ever see sweet potato cake, try it. You won’t be sorry.) We crashed in bed at 10:30 and awoke to a beautiful view of the sea, warm weather and were ready to head out to the Cayes for fun in the sand and sun.

Our view the first morning in Belize.

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~ by foodNURD on March 2, 2011.

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