It has been a pretty long day, and I’m almost semi-delirious while writing this post, so hopefully it’ll make sense. I feel really fortunate though because today could have been significantly longer for us if we hadn’t run into some plain ol’ good luck and benefited from some kindness of strangers.
The day started off really early, but we really got a great omen near the beginning of our journey: at the airport–in the security line nonetheless–probably the place you would least expect it. It was probably luck (it makes me feel better when I tell myself it’s cause I look trustworthy), but we got placed into the expedited check-in line with United. This meant that we didn’t have to take our shoes off, liquids and laptops out, or anything that we have been conditioned to do since 9-11. I was totally shocked at how easy it was and almost felt confused because of it. In and through security in like two minutes. At ORD. What an amazing feeling.
We flew from ORD to IAH (Houston, TX) with a tight connection made tighter due to some thunderstorm turbulence. We ended up with only 10 minutes between getting to the gate and the start of boarding on our next flight. Some of the people seated in front of us showed the common courtesy of letting us off before them, which was also a bit refreshing. We were able to run off the plane, change terminals, and make it to the boarding line right as our group was getting on. It turns out that this was a bit of a moot point though, as the crew on our connection flight held the plane an additional 15 minutes for passengers who were running late due to connection issues. Waiting for the others was a pretty awesome thing to do that anybody would appreciate, but I just wish they had turned on the air conditioning. Sitting on a nearly full plane with no A/C in the middle of the Texan summer heat and humidity is not something I would recommend for any period of time.
So when traveling to Ambergris Caye, there are basically two methods of getting there–water taxi and local flight. The local flight is only 15 minutes vs ~2-2.5 hrs via water taxi, but is also double the cost (including regular taxi to get to the water taxi). We had decided that since we weren’t in a rush and the weather was nice, we would take the more scenic route and hopped in the first cab we saw at the airport. Our driver was friendly enough, and pointed out some landmarks as he drove us to the docks. There are multiple water cab companies in the same vicinity. I had done my research before hand, and they were all more or less the same price and all had similar reputations, so I wasn’t really worried about which one we were going to take. However, I still felt a bit blindsided when the guys at the place our cab driver decided to drop us off immediately opened the trunk and grabbed our luggage, basically forcing us to choose them as our carrier, even though their next trip wasn’t for another hour. I would have liked to look around at the other companies to see if anybody was leaving sooner, but all of Belize City didn’t seem all that safe to me, so I figured it wouldn’t be worth it to cause a scene.
We took the opportunity to walk around downtown Belize City and take in some of the sights for a bit, as we weren’t planning on spending any time there for the remainder of the trip. This weird fellow immediately started following us and talking to us, reciting poetry and stuff. He didn’t feel really creepy or dangerous, just a bit weird, but friendly, so we decided to give him some money in hopes that he would kinda just wander off and leave us alone. This probably wasn’t the brightest idea, but this time our kindness was repaid. He turned out to be helpful as a mini tour guide, showing us how to open the door to the ATM (I wouldn’t have noticed the card slot without him cause it was in a weird place), where a little supermarket for some water was, and he even waved us off from the bridge when we were on the boat.
When we got off at Ambergris Caye, it was still pretty bright outside. We decided that we wanted to get dinner right away because basically all we had eaten all day was some breakfast that our mom had given us, and a bunch of clif bars. While we were walking around looking for a place that looked good, we must have gotten asked by at least five people if we needed a taxi. Immediately after dinner, when we actually wanted a ride, none was to be found.
We had been wandering for a few minutes, and found a posted map trying to figure out where some of the bigger streets were where we might have some more luck with a cab.
From out behind us, we heard this voice with a thick Texan accent ask us if we wanted a lift. We turned around and saw this older Texan man in a cowboy hat with a younger sugar baby (her term, not mine) in a golf cart. My first gut instinct was to trust them, but a fast second was to be a bit more cautious, but then my third instinct split the two and we decided to trust carefully. We ended up getting in the back of their golf cart and having some funny conversations with them while they dropped us off.
As we arrived, the resort owner came out apologizing to us (even though he was the one who was waiting). Apparently, they always try to pick their guests up directly from the Ambergris Caye airport or water taxi stands, but they were unable to get in contact with us since we booked the trip through a third party website. He turned out to be an incredibly friendly guy as well, and our room here is pretty awesome. I’m really glad that we decided to stay at this particular resort.
We finished the day up with swimming in the resort pool, and some limited exploration of the beach, but unfortunately there wasn’t much we could see because of nightfall. I did have my headlamp though, and it was incredible that the water was so clear that we could see straight to the bottom with what little light we had. I can’t wait to see what it looks like during the daylight!
It is almost like a bit of cognitive dissonance when I’m catching up on the news now and see terrible tragedies of people doing bad things to other people (e.g. the Russians shooting down the Malaysian Airlines flight), while I’m experiencing pretty much the exact opposite here on vacation. It kinda makes me wonder what the world could be like if we were all just a bit more chill, and kinder to each other (I’m looking at you first, Masshole drivers).
Without further ado, here is what you have all been waiting for anyway… pictures! I’ve got a couple from our boat ride onto Ambergris Caye from the mainland (c/o Sophia) and a couple of our room at the White Sands Cove resort on Ambergris Caye, Belize. Snorkeling pictures and videos should be coming tomorrow!