Thursday, December 6, 2007

Belize: Rainy Season (Day 1)

Joshua was dosing on and off the whole flight. I couldn't shut my eyes. How could I? A million things ran through my head. How was my fiance? Would I be able to talk to her while I was away? Would she know I was okay? Our wedding was in two weeks. What if something came up? What if something would go wrong? Should I have gone on this trip? I didn't want her to be stressed out. I wanted her to be calm. I wanted to make sure she was taken care of.

Even though I felt the desire, I couldn't dwell on those worries. I had to figure out stuff happening right now. I was about to land in a foreign country, and I had no clue what was going on. I love to travel, please don't take it the wrong way. The only other country I've been to was Mexico. But, Cancun and Jaurez don't nominate me to the "travelling abroad" club. Both cities overflow with Americans. A trip to Belize is entirely different.

"We'll catch a taxi into town and walk around. You have our guide books, right?" Joshua spoke from behind closed eye lids.


"Okay then."

For me, it wasn't that simple. The concept of letting things happen did not come natural. My whole life was one calculated move followed by another. Every decision was thought through. Every concept required logic and reason. And, here I was in a plane, flying over the Caribbean, about to land in Belize City at 7:00pm with no plan. Yes, almost night time. Yes, no plan. Yes, I was slightly concerned.

Maybe the whole picture wasn't clear. "Joshua, you know the airport is ten miles away from the city?"


"And, it will be dark when we get there."

"Mm-hmm. It will be okay. Just relax."

I looked away to the window. I may have appeared relaxed, but I wasn't.

A couple minutes later, the pilot spoke over the intercom. Every third word was a random mess of static, but the main concept still got through, "Even though we're a couple hours late, don't worry about your connecting flights. They will wait for you. They don't get paid unless you make it to your destination." After those words, the people around us shared in a sigh of relief. I couldn't participate.

Staring out the window, I watched clouds and waves. I saw the shoreline approach from a distance, the beaches were yellow and white. I could see the break waters in turbulent waves filled with white foam. Trees started to pop out of the green canvas along the shore. Small features started to reveal themselves as our airplane continued onward. Then buildings, ponds and roads appeared. Belize was under us.

The pilot reminded people, again, that their connecting flights were waiting for them. The plane shook as wheels opened up. A runway appeared below and the airplane touched down. A smell of greenery filled the cabin as we taxied across the runway, heading towards the main terminal.

I watched silently from my seat. I saw smaller aircraft, the likes of millionaires out on fishing ventures. I also noticed wreckage and abandoned aircraft. The terminal was getting closer, a red brick building with small turret like aircraft control tower on top.

We stopped. We were atleast 75 yards away from the terminal. Why did we stop?

People started to unbuckle and stand up. They grabbed their bags from the storage bins and collected their items from around their seats. Why did we stop? We weren't at the gate.

Out of my window I could see people running around. The luggage trucks already started to work on collecting bags from the belly of the plane. All of the engines of the airplane turned off. The plane went awkwardly quiet. A small vehicle pushing a set of stairs drove up to the side and connected to our plane. We were going to get off outside. I didn't realize they didn't have gates. Was this normal? Was this safe? Where were we?

I wasn't the only person suprised by this. Other people were commenting, too.

Joshua and I stood up, grabbed the guide books, and walked out the plane. Going down the stairs, I was causiously curious. I was watching everything happen on the tarmack, at eye level. I could see the belly of a larger jet, and the people working on it. Looking up, I could see the pilots in the cockpit collecting their belongings. It was an experience. It is not normal to see this in America.

The line of passengers snaked it's way to the terminal. Passengers followed each other instinctively.

Small, single engine airplanes were lined up near the line of passengers and their pilots stood, holding signs, hoping passengers would see them. Some would yell into the crowd, looking for their passengers, "Smith, going to Roatan. Smith, going to Roatan."

Clowds were rolling in from the west quickly. I could feel the humidity rising as the wind picked up. "I wonder if it is going to rain," I remarked.

"It's almost the rainy season," Joshua answered, "I wouldn't be suprised."

The sun was setting. I didn't want it to rain.