On Thursday, Tom and I met friends off a cruise ship for the second time since we’ve been here. This visit went much more smoothly than the first – and it was a good thing, since the visitor was my ex-boss Michele and her friend Christine!
The thing about meeting people off the cruise ships is that they never switch to Belize time, so they dock at a pretty early hour in the morning. Michele and Christine’s ship was scheduled to be in port from 8AM to 4PM, so we knew that it would be only 6AM or 7AM when they came ashore. We bought our D-Max at a dealer in Belize City and periodically take it there for service, so we decided to schedule an appointment for Wednesday afternoon and then spend the night in Belize City. This worked out perfectly, and after our 3PM Bravo appointment we drove downtown to look at hotels near Tourism Village where the cruise passengers come in, which is also near the water taxi terminal. We tentatively planned to stay at the Belcove, which is where we left Alex when we left him in Belize City to catch the water taxi to Caye Caulker a few weeks ago. We decided to look at a few other options in the area, but we still ended up at the Belcove, which turned out to be surprisingly nice. It’s small and inexpensive, but everything is tiled and spotless, and their back door opens onto a dock on the canal just upstream from the swing bridge.
We were the only guests that night, so they gave us a room right on the dock. We checked in, then went on a mini-shopping spree to Brodie’s on the Northern Highway and had dinner at a Jambel’s Jerk Pit on the waterfront near the Princess Hotel. Then we took our spoils from Brodie’s – a bottle of rum, a bag of ice, some lime juice, Cabot’s cheese, and Carr’s crackers – and went back to the Belcove and sat in their Adirondack chairs on the dock watching the downtown Belize City canal and street traffic. For two people who spend most of their time in the jungle, it was fascinating, and very relaxing. We had a great night’s sleep, and were up before 6AM the next morning to head to Tourism Village to meet Michele and Christine.
We got there a little before 6:30, and knowing the drill this time, we got our Visitor passes and went in. The tenders started docking almost immediately, but what we didn’t realize was that there are three docks within Tourism Village where they come in. We knew three ships were in port that day, so we started wandering up and down the waterfront asking which ships the docking tenders came from – and they were all from the Carnival cruise ships, not the Royal Caribbean ship we were waiting for. Finally, around 7:30, the Royal Caribbean tenders started arriving. However, because Michele and Christine weren’t signed up for one of the cruise sponsored excursions, they’d been prevented from getting on the earlier tenders, so they didn’t get to the dock until about 8:15 – our time! But, it didn’t matter at all, since Tom and I had actually really enjoyed people watching. With thousands of people on each of the three ships in port, we saw more people in less than two hours than we usually see in six months, and it was fascinating.
We’d sought the shade of an overhang, and I was standing next to the wall when I heard Michele call my name. They got off the tender, avoiding the people in parrot and dolphin suits who were trying to snare the disembarking passengers for photos, and after a quick hug we headed outside and to our truck. We had a conference about what to do for our six hours, and decided to avoid piles of hot rocks and snake infested swimming holes in favor of breakfast at Cheers and a trip to the Belize Zoo. It didn’t really matter what we did – we probably could have sat in Tourism Village and yacked for the whole time and it wouldn’t have mattered – but we had a good Zoo visit and saw all the animals – and Michele even touched the boa constrictor, who was hanging around our friend Vlad’s neck when we entered the Zoo. I’m not sure what Michele thought about me giving the man with the snake a hug – but why should a five-foot boa constrictor keep you from greeting a friend?
We headed back to Tourism Village with plenty of time to spare, and even had time for a quick ride along the waterfront so Michele and Christine could see the nicer part of Belize City, rather than the sort of seedy section we passed through as we were driving out.
We even had time for a quick photo op with Michele wielding my bullwhip which had been in Tim’s care since I left The Rochester Group (wonder what the TSA people thought about that when they searched her luggage?) and Christine wielding Tom’s machete, which Christine found fascinating especially when she discovered that it lives in the back seat of the car. We assured her that it was there mostly to cut trees out of the road (honest), but we’re not sure if she believed us.
They headed back into Tourism Village at almost exactly 2PM – with 30 minutes to spare before the last tender back to the ship. No more mad dashes or making the tenders turn around to pick up our friends!