Well, we made it to Caye Caulker, a small island off the coast of Belize yesterday afternoon. When we landed in Belize City, the customs agents seemed a bit suspect of these crazy Americans who were planning to spend a month on Caye Caulker ("The Key" to locals), but let us through with only a few questions and dirty looks. From that moment on, my mental boundaries were tested.
We were greeted by Jason, our driver who was sent to take us to the water taxi over to the island. Though he was very friendly, getting in to his rickety Suburban while he pushed aside old flip flops, beer bottles and clothing was a little unnerving. He also had a friend passed out in the passenger seat, so I was sure they were going to pull over and rob and abandon us somewhere (they didn't). As we drove through the streets of the "city," I could feel the ugly voices of racism and prejudice trying to surface. It is definitely a third world country, and I will just need to get over myself!
Waiting for the water taxi in 95 degree heat and humidity, Bill ordered a bottle of beer and was pleased to find it only cost $3 Belize ($1.50 US). The 45 minute taxi ride to the island was cooler but crowded with lots of hot, sweaty travelers - mmm.
When we arrived on The Key, a Canadian man named Kim met us (he is the property manager for our rental and has facilitated all of our logistics thus far). He put us and our packs on a golf cart to get to the house. While Bill and I were checking in and signing the traveler's checks, Henry and Caroline made fast friends with LuLu, the driver. He is a warm, engaging local who is very proud of his island. He taught the kids how to crack open coconuts with rocks and to drink the milk and scrape the 'meat' with their front teeth. Though they jumped at the chance to try something new, they both said it was pretty gross!
Our house for the next month is a beautiful 2 story home in the jungle. Caroline keeps saying that she cannot believe that it's a private house and that we get it all to ourselves! Kim went over the basics with us - like where to buy liquor, get groceries, which restaurants are best, and where to swim. He also told us which spots on the island to avoid because they are inhabited by crocodiles (thanks, Kim!). I was a little taken aback by his warning about security. Though he said there is almost no danger to us personally, our possessions could be targets. He warned me not to be too showy with my camera, so we'll see how what kinds of images I am able to gather here.
It was getting dark and we needed to eat, so we set out to find Rose's, a recommendation of Kim's. On our walk to dinner, I was pretty alarmed by the sounds coming from the trees along the side of the road - given Kim's warning about crocodiles. Luckily, however, Henry had his trusty flashlight and discovered that the sound was not crocodiles at all, but little blue crabs that walk along the road. Phew!
Rose's was incredible! When you walk up to the restaurant, you are greeted by a man showing you items from today's catch. He literally had piles of fresh lobsters, shrimp & vegetable kabobs, huge pieces of grouper and mackrel steaks to choose from. Bill and Henry each chose the $30 (Belize, = $15 US) lobster and Caroline and I selected a $20 grouper filet and the guy threw them on the grill right there. We were able to get a table right above the grill, and Henry was fascinated with the process. He couldn't take his eyes off the grill and had so many questions for the guys working the grill, which they graciously indulged.
By the time we finished dinner, we were all tired and hot so we decided to get back to the house rather than explore like we had planned. We still hadn't organized our things, so finding what we needed to get ready for bed posed a challenge that I wasn't in the mood to face. Finally, after a quick shower, I dropped into bed wishing that I could just be at home - with my cozy Sleep Number bed and double head, high water pressure shower and then I realized: Oh yeah. We sold it.