Lauren from Colorado was our only single traveler of the holiday season, and she came here after spending time in Punta Gorda. She took an express bus from Punta Gorda to Belmopan, and then got a bus from Belmopan into San Ignacio. Neither she nor we had any idea how long it would take to get from PG to SI by bus, so we had made plans to meet at Mr. Greedy’s Pizza at 3PM. The buses were actually much quicker than any of us had anticipated, and she had arrived in San Ignacio before noon, so she checked out the market, went to an internet café, and went back to Mr. Greedy’s shortly before 3, and was there only long enough to be mildly harassed by the hangers out who think any woman there alone needs to be kept company. Immediately upon my arrival, Lauren started to get a good idea of how things work in Belize. As I was talking to her, one of the bartenders who lives in 7 Miles told me he was getting off work at 3, and asked if I could give him a ride home. It wasn’t quite 3, so I told him that Lauren and I would go to the market and then come back to pick him up. So, we went to the market, where Lauren got to hear all the local gossip I traded with Gloria as I picked up a few things that are better fresh. We then went back for JJ, who was almost ready, and when he got in the truck he asked if we could go up the hill to pick up his 18-month old son. Of course we could, so we did. We then headed out of town, with just a few more quick stops for this and that. Coming up the Georgeville Road, we picked up a few more people, and I explained to Lauren that the buses don’t run out here, and most people don’t have cars, and you get to know the “commuters” sooner or later, so it’s not really like even picking up hitchhikers. We took JJ and his son into 7 Miles, so she got to see Cayo’s version of the rural Belizean village, and then headed back to the farm.
Because she was traveling alone and [understandably] didn’t want to pay the single traveler premium for tours, we had agreed that we would just see what fell into place when she got here. Valerie and Jack being here and planning to go to Caracol on their own was perfect, and Tom and checked with them before Lauren and I even arrived home to make sure they didn’t mind a third person for their trip. They didn’t, so we spent some time that evening making plans for Caracol the next day.
While the three of them were at Caracol, I was in touch with Gonzo, who had found some people who wanted to go to the Offering Cave. Since we’re so close, he could pick Lauren up and take her for the normal tour charge, so as soon as Lauren, Valerie, and Jack arrived home, I posed the question to Lauren. She had been thinking about doing the ATM tour, but when I explained that the Offering Cave has a lot of the same features as ATM, minus the river, and that it’s a much less traveled cave, she was quite excited to make the substitution.
So, the next morning, Gonzo arrived with his other two guests, and Becky who stayed here to hang out and visit with me and Tom for the day. They did almost exactly what Gonzo had done with Cheryl, Liz, and Tom and few days before, although since the road was already clear, they had enough time after touring the cave to take the hike to Sapodilla Falls. They said the hike is less than a half hour each way from where they have to leave the vehicle, and Sapodilla Falls is definitely worth an hour’s hiking. And Lauren suddenly had the condition of the Rio Frio Cave road put into perspective when she saw what real Belizean off-roading is like! The whole group of them stayed for dinner that night, so we all stayed up too late – again – talking and laughing with our other two guests, Steve and Karen, who had arrived the day before.
The next day, Thursday, Lauren decided to just hang out here around the farm and actually take one day to relax on her vacation. It was a good plan, but it didn’t work out that way. The morning and the early afternoon were fine. Lauren set herself up in the sun in the yard with a book, and managed to get some reading done as well as seeing a wide variety of birds and a few small animals. Then, later in the afternoon, she decided that she should confirm her Maya Island Air flight from the International Airport in Belize City to Cancun for Saturday, since she planned to take her time getting from Cayo to Belize City, and was going to stay at D’Nest Inn before flying out on Saturday morning. The good thing was she decided to confirm the flight Thursday evening; the bad thing was she found out the flight had been canceled and nobody told her, despite the fact that Saturday flights from PGIA to Cancun had been canceled well before she left home for her vacation. We don’t get phone service here, which limited her contact options, but she emailed a friend in the US and asked him to get on the phone and find out what was happening. He confirmed that the flight had been canceled, so Lauren slipped into replan mode. It was a major PITA, but she finally figured out that she could bus from Cayo to Playa/Cancun on Friday, so she would be there for her flight to Colorado early Saturday afternoon. That’s what she did, and it worked out, although she has yet to get her Maya Island Air fare refunded, and she also lost her deposit on her D’Nest room, which she had to cancel last minute because she could no longer spend her last night in Belize City – not to mention it became a somewhat stressful journey rather than a relaxed day of seeing a few more sights. So, we are definitely discouraging people from booking with Maya Island Air and steering them towards Tropic Air if they want to use either of Belize’s domestic airlines.
Despite the stressful ending, we had a really good time during Lauren’s stay here. We used to worry when we booked single travelers because we were never sure how high maintenance they’d be, but since this situation ended up with us making a new friend despite adverse conditions, we’re now sold on single travelers!