10 June 2008

The Belizean adventure

The first part of the vacation started out like many others with a plane ride. We had a split trip and stopped in Dallas for an overnight stay and a lovely respite with my travel companions' family. We enjoyed a wonderful evening with great food and wine and much laughter and departed the following morning for a quick flight to Belize City.

I was aware that there was a tropical depression lurking about the area, but we had received no travel warnings until we began our actual descent. The captain announced that there was heavy rain and turbulence... buckle up.

That was the beginning of an hour of anxiety. We made two passes over the airfield with the visibility of about 50 feet (the pilot could not see the landing strip--a potenial hazard.) The second pass was directly over but a couple of hundred feet too high. He then announced that we would ascend to a higher altitude and circle in hopes that the weather would clear.

We would then have enough fuel for one more try (gulp)and if that didn't work and would fly to CancĂșn for more fuel and try again. I don't know how much clearing there was, but he made one more attempt; which apparently gave him little better visibility-but was going too fast. At this point, the cabin became much quieter and the atmosphere, much more tense. I had confidence that the captain would not try anything silly, after all he had assured us that our safety was paramount, but we could see nothing but rain and wind and clouds.

He circled around for one more attempt and was miraculously able to make an amazing landing in some really crappy weather-- at which point the applause broke out.
Little did we know that this was really the beginning of a genuine 24-hour adventure.

After collecting our belongings, we discovered (not surprisingly). There were no more flights leaving for San Pedro. The simplest alternative was to choose a place to stay as close to the airport as possible. This happened to be "The Global Village". The hotel was only a few minutes away on some very flooded roads.
The building itself was a very blocky concrete edifice, without much endearing charm but very sturdy. I swore that it was a renovated hospital, judging by the size of the rooms,the linoleum floors and the bathroom shower which wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. (We found later that it was only built three years ago, and served mostly as a hostel for local missionaries.)
It appeared to be owned and operated by a large and busy Chinese family; dealing with a huge influx of unexpected guests. They provided us with a buffet supper(no resaurant-that was visible), which was interesting and tasty. The room was adequate and felt quite safe, especially when the storm reemerged that night and provided a spectacular show of thunder and lightning. The next morning we enjoyed our complementary breakfast of an egg on toast sandwich and a glass Tang. A quick trip to the airport and we were reunited with our fellow passengers, all of whom had discovered already that there were no planes flying in or out at the airport. The Tropic Air planes were all stranded in San Pedro because the airfield was underwater! The water taxi was not running because the seas were too dangerous.
Okay. Another unforeseen dilemma.
After much consideration, we decided to take a cab into Belize city, where at least, we might be able to walk around and see the sights. When we finally spoke to cabdriver he told us that downtown Belize city was also underwater.
Okay, regroup. He recommended a Best Western on the outskirts of the city. At that point, it seemed to be the most logical option.
The hotel was quite lovely, with a nice restaurant and pool. We checked in and after looking around a bit, sat down for a second breakfast (it was still only about 9:30 a.m.)Afterward we checked but the available computers were tied up.
The local news showed video of the devastation taking place in the southern half of the country. Entire areas were flooded, roads washed out, bridges destroyed and homes underwater. No time to complain, we were safe and dry.
After a couple of hours, we noticed that the hotel was significantly quieter and the lobby empty. Seemed that the planes were flying again. We hurriedly checked out-having paid for a night that we were not going to use-but were anxious to get to the airport. The first flight available was at three o'clock, and we notified Captain Morgan's of our arrival.

Since we were one of the last groups out, as usual, we had the pleasure of flying out on a six -seater. Extremely uncomfortable and awfully wiggly. I enjoy flying but that flight was a little bit questionable. After arriving safely, we were cabbed and boated to our final destination- paradise.

To be continued...


Wicked Thistle said...

What a daring time was had by all! Arthur be damned, the girls *will* get to their island! Great photo montage and highlights. Maybe the networks will work your story into the next episode of "Survivor?"

moi said...

Dang. You ladies will endure anything for a good drink on a tropical beach. I'm impressed.

Doris Rose said...

Hellfire, it was a damn fine Tropical Drink, too. Pina Colada!!

A.Fanny said...

Looks like it cleared up - I wanna hear the rest of the journey!

Kathleen said...

me too!

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