Our Final Leg Of Our Journey–Until We Meet Again, Belize!
Early Monday morning (March 16) we rose with the sun, packed for the day, and headed out for yet another adventure. Pastor Ernest was our tour guide for the day.
We arrived at the water taxi terminal, only to discover that the credit card machine was not working. I went next door to the ATM and found out that was out of service, too. We had ten minutes until we were to depart. I didn’t have enough Belizean money to pay for our tickets so I was encouraged to trek across the bridge and use the ATM at the CIBC bank not too far away.
I quickly ventured to the bank. The sun was beating down on me and the humidity was extremely high already in the early morning. Thank goodness the machine worked and I was soon on my way back to the terminal.
With purchased tickets in hand, we climbed aboard the vessel and left Belize City. The first stop was Caye Caulker, the small island we’d visited just the day before. As those passengers got off the boat, I couldn’t help but feel a tug at my heart as all of my fresh memories of Sunday wandering around the quaint island were close to the surface of my thoughts and being.
A few minutes later, the water taxi continued on toward San Pedro. We’d been told that the island was much larger thane Caye Caulker. As we arrived, I immediately noticed the large buildings, cars/trucks (which were not on the small island–only golf carts and bikes), and paved streets. It was much noisier in San Pedro. In that moment, I was very grateful for the day we’d spent on the peaceful island of Caye Caulker.
However, Ernest had assured us that we would really appreciate the opportunity to snorkel near the barrier reef. As a side note, Ernest seems to know people everywhere he goes. Once we departed the boat, he stopped in at the first snorkel/scuba diving tour business and chatted away with someone who evidently knew him. He got us a “deal” for our small group to go out as soon as we changed.
None of our family had snorkelled in the ocean before. We were very excited as the men fitted us with flippers and masks. Our tour guide, Martin, was wonderful! He was incredibly knowledgeable about marine biology and the history of the San Pedro area. He had a big smile and sparkle in his eyes as he gave us instructions on what we were about to experience. He definitely works in his passion and his enthusiasm was contagious!
Rebekah was a natural as she entered into the ocean and began exploring. Ernest had done this many times, so he was a pro. Randy and I, on the other hand, took quite a while to get used to using the snorkel. Randy was concerned about his injured leg so he was a bit more tentative about the adventure. I am not an overly strong swimmer, so I had no problem asking for a life jacket around my waist to give me extra confidence.
I cannot adequately describe how awesome it was to see the marine life in the ocean. The water is so clear there! We saw a large barracuda, small vibrantly coloured fish, many turtles, and a vast array of fish in all colours and sizes. The coral was immense. We swam out very close to the barrier reef. The depth of the ocean was startling and took my breath away. I think we swam and snorkelled for about 45 minutes before we ended that part of our adventure.
We climbed back into the boat and travelled another ten minutes. Martin took us to shark and ray alley. At first, I think both Rebekah and I thought we’d swim with the sharks. However, we both opted to observe them from our boat. When Marten lured the sharks with chum fish, I am sure more than 20 sharks came right up to our boat. We were absolutely amazed! As the sharks ate their lunch, they swam with grace and precision. It was as though we observed a dance.
Back to the island we went. By that time, we’d worked up quite an appetite. Ernest knew just where to take us. First, we stopped to rent a golf cart. The sun was beating down on us and we were concerned for Randy with his leg. We headed to Pineapples On The Beach Restaurant. The resort was grand. The thatched roofs of the cabanas were beautifully constructed. They planted many trees and plants that replicated a jungle like setting. We had an ocean view from our table. And the breeze cooled us off. There were so many tantalizing choices on the menu. Each of us enjoyed the delectable dishes and the company.
After lunch, we drove around the island for a while. The roads were rather bumpy and pedestrian “ramps” (like very large speed bumps) were plentiful. Randy and Beks took turns driving. Poor Rebekah had two people telling her how to drive the cart and where to go. I stayed out of the conversation as I knew she felt overwhelmed. Even in the angst of the learning, she thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to drive the cart on the island!
Our time in San Pedro quickly drew to a close. We ended in Martens fashion, indulging in ice cream before we boarded the boat. Beks found a tie-dyed blouse at the open market. We returned the golf cart and got on the water taxi.
Monday evening was emotionally difficult. We knew the clock was ticking very fast. We did some last minute laundry, tidied up around the house, and packed our suitcases. We spent some time with Corbyn, the 14 year old nephew who had won over our hearts. By 10 p.m., each of us were in bed trying to sleep as a 4 a.m. wake up call would feel very early.
Early Tuesday morning, we packed the car and waited for everyone to get ready. We spent some of our last moments in Belize watching the sunrise and taking in deep, long breaths of the sea air. I think one of the most difficult parts of leaving was saying goodbye to Corbyn in the morning. Tears were flowing down our faces, hugs were exchanged, and we shared that we hope to come back again.
We piled into the Nissan Xterra and we were off to Chetamal, Mexico. Ernest and Caroline were kind to drive us there to shorten our bus trip. Crossing the border was much easier this time. We arrived at the bus station just in time to board the 10:30 a.m. bus. Six hours later, we arrived in Cancun. We got to our hotel, had supper, and called it an early night.
Now it is 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 18. We are scheduled to leave in the taxi in an hour. We are on our final leg of our trip back home (a layover in Calgary and due to arrive in Winnipeg around midnight). I think we’re all experiencing a vast array of emotions. Each of us have grown to love Belize and the people we met and stayed with. Yet, we know it is time to go home. We each miss our home, family, and friends. Beks is anticipating spending time with her horse, JJ. Randy has arranged for us to pump water into our pond tomorrow (we weren’t anticipating the snow to melt so soon…it was -30 when we left home two weeks ago). Our minds are spinning and hearts are a bit torn…
It will be important to take time to reflect when we get home. I do not want to miss the rich opportunities of reflection and being present. Too often it is tempting to jump right back into “routine” and not honour the experiences we had. It is important to create that space.
I have long since decided that I do not like goodbyes. So my heart sings…Until next time Belize!