Friday, December 7, 2007

Belize: No Security (Day 1)

"Do you have your passport? Get your passports out. Keep moving. Form single file lines. Families stay together. Get your passports out."

I reached into my cargo pocket. The passport was hard to grab, being in my pocket for a couple hours had folded it to fabric in my shorts. I was able to pull it out before strangers started giving looks of confusion. There we were two "tourists" in a worn airport terminal, standing in line, trying to get through customs. Customs, in the loose sense of the definition. Customs equalled a person sitting on a rickety old bar stool next to a four foot high post with a small surface for passports on top. There were four lines of people trying to get to three custom agents. The middle two lines were not merging together happily.

There was no rope. No tape. No "heavy security" trying to get into this country. Only us tourists and customs agents that would rather be somewhere else.

Joshua and I waited patiently. We quietly watched everybody herd themselves into Belize.

It was my turn.

The customs agent asked in a thick Jamaican accent, "What is your business in Belize?"

"Um," followed by a small pause, "tourism?"

The custom agent looked up annoyingly, scratched his nose, skimmed to an empty page in my passport and stamped it. "Next..."

"That's it?" I thought to myself as I received my passport back. "Wow."

I walked the fifteen feet to the baggage carousel. Looking back, I watched Joshua go through the same process.

"That was simple." Joshua said as he approached me.

"No doubt."

The carousel started up, and our bag quickly came through. Joshua grabbed our giant duffel bag and carried it over to the wall. He unzipped it and pulled out our backpacks. We quickly put everything (including the duffel) inside our packs, put them on our backs and walked out of the front of the terminal.

The sky was totally gray. The clouds had arrived.

"You need a taxi?" A creole man gently said while walking up to us. Other people quickly followed him. "I can take you to the city, you need a taxi?"

Joshua replied with a nod and a "Yes."

"OK, follow me."

We walked by a line of taxis parked next to the terminal sidewalk. The man took us to a Lincoln town car a couple cars down the row. He opened the trunk, took our bags and put them in. Shut the trunk and walked away.

"You can get in," the man said while walking away.

Joshua and I looked at each other, shrugged, opened the door to the taxi and sat in.

"The seats are leather," I said.

"Yeah, this is a nice taxi," Joshua answered.

We sat there, watching other people leave the airport. Some found taxis, some started walking down the road, others met family members.

The trunk of our taxi opened. A couple was placing their backpacks in the trunk. The girl had curly hair and petite frame, her boyfriend was husky and pale. The boyfriend opened the backdoor and sat in, his girlfriend sat in the front passenger seat.

"Hey," he said to us.


A man opened the driver door and sat in. We had not seen him before. "Are all of you going to Belize City?"

All of us agreed as the taxi left the airport.


MagenRanae said...

wow! How strange - the driver was different than the man who greeted you? I'm really enjoying the stories!