Saturday, January 22, 2011

Voltec, June, Ilsa, Sean, Ruth

For June and Voltec and their adult children Ilsa, Sean, and Ruth, the Hopkins schedule shuffle was just one more glitch in carefully made plans that just didn’t quite go the way that was expected. June and Voltec live in Poland, Ilsa lives in Poland, and Sean and Ruth live in the US in New York and Florida. June had tried to carefully orchestrate everybody’s flight plans so they’d all end up in Belize for the holidays, but from the beginning the plans had to be adjusted. This is a hazard of travel any time, and especially during the busy holiday season, but everybody was willing to go with the flow and replan as necessary, and nobody let the minor schedule adjustments get in the way of having a good time.

Because this family arrived early in the day and because they had to cancel some of their Hopkins plans for their early departure, we helped them turn the travel day into a tour day by letting them take our little pickup into the Mountain Pine Ridge. The original plan was to go for a swim at Big Rock, but they took a left instead of a right at the Hidden Valley turnoff and ended up visiting 1000 Foot Falls first – a bonus! They talked to Pedro at 1000 Foot Falls and he told them how to get to Big Rock from there, so after viewing the highest waterfall in Central America, they made their way to Big Rock where they had plenty of time to go for a swim before heading back to the farm for dinner.

The next day they went kayaking and toured Xunantunich. This day also ended up requiring some scheduling flexibility, because we had all planned on having them go to Xunantunich in the morning while it was cool, and then kayak in the afternoon. However, Link, the kayak guide, had scheduled another group that wanted to do a full day of kayaking, and the morning portion of that trip was more what our family wanted to do. So, when they got to town, they discovered that they were going kayaking first, and then touring Xunantunich in the afternoon. This worked out fine, and they returned here in the afternoon, pleasantly tired after a full day.

We had a somewhat heated discussion over dinner because the “face” June had seen for their transfers and excursions had been Becky, Gonzo’s girlfriend. Becky was here on vacation for the holidays, and because Gonzo ended up guiding every day, Becky ended up taking care of a lot of the River Rat business issues. This was fine with us, and Becky didn’t really mind spending part of her vacation keeping business going, but June, who is a consultant who helps get small businesses running in developing countries, wanted to know why we were doing business with a US company rather than a Belizean company. At first we weren’t really sure what she was asking, and her kids were trying to sidetrack her to avoid a discussion, but when we realized that her very valid perception of River Rat was the very white Becky, we were glad she asked the question and allowed us to answer rather than just thinking that we were avoiding doing business with Belizeans. When we assured her that River Rat Expeditions is in fact 100% Belizean owned, and that all the guides are 100% Belizean, she felt better. And, the discussion energized all of us so that we ended up staying up talking and laughing until after 2AM. So much for being tired after returning from a tour!

The next day everybody transferred to Belize City, with Selmo driving again. He knew June wasn’t too happy when he had dropped her off the day before and wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so he was pleased that we’d worked out the misunderstanding and everybody was happy again. They were off for a brief stay in Caye Caulker before everybody had to head back to their far flung homes.

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