After my late night with the two Annes, I got early start as the sun rose in cloudy skies. With advice garnered the night before, I made my way to the taxi stop. Within minutes I got a ride, that afterwards I realized I could have walked in the same amount of time. Once again, I had unwittingly contributed to the local economy.
The local island hopper was very accommodating. The lowing flying high-wing 4-seater provided great views of the shallow bottoms of the Belizean coastline.
The gravel surfaced runway at the Belize Airstrip, was was right at the water’s edge. With a 30-or-so minute layover, I thought I’d find a coffee. Luckily, this terminal had a small kitchen, attended by a modern-day Maya named Mira. Upon my refusal of styrofoam (especially in a microwave), she graciously made my microwaved hot water (for instant coffee) in her personal coffee cup. I decided to try one of her homemade not-too-sweet coffee cakes. We continued our conversation about my anti-styrofoam stance, which transitioned to the origin of her cup. It was a gift from her son. She had kept it for 23 years. He had given it to her around 1st grade age. He was killed at the age of 22, during a hurricane a few years back. So, we engaged in topics of life and death, love and marriage, and home and travel, all of them overlapping.
Finally, off again on my final leg to Dangriga in an 8-seated, dual-prop high-high wing. I got a taxi to the dock. We stopped on the way to make change. It forced me to buy a couple beers. It is quite rude to just ask for change… Right?
I was dropped at the dock. I was informed my boat crew was out shopping and would return in an hour. I went into the nearest cafe and ordered some local fare. An obviously poor local began chatting me up. Rather than give him change, I offered him lunch. He accepted, and promptly started giving all the local tips, and included valuable bus route information for my exit upon return from the island.
My island host showed up and said he still had a couple things to handle. I told him, “No hurries, no worries. I am on vacation.” He looked at me and smiled. We were gonna get along just fine.
The boat ride out was beautiful and uneventful. I occasionally turned to see the mainland disappear behind 9.9 nautical miles of blue Caribbean seas. I was barely unpacked when a light knock and a child’s voice told me that my lunch was ready.
The afternoon followed with travel conversation with soon to be departing guests. In the lull, I caught a nap. Afterwards, I took a walk. I talked with a local fisherman cleaning conch that would be my dinner that night. He said that he would free dive about 15 feet down for them. As we chatted standing in the shallow water, several manta rays came and fed on the trimmings at our feet. We could touch and stroke them. They were even playful with us and each other.
The evening came on and dinner was served. I dined with 2 couples, one from Wyoming. And the other couple were newlyweds from Rome. Conversation with the host was wide and varied for the rest of the evening. The sprinkles grew into a true rain as I turned in for a good night of sleep. The steady pitter-patter sent me softly into another dreamland.
I awoke to a foggy predawn twilight and the sounds of the warm sea lapping the rocks and sandy beach. I languished in bed listening to the birds, ocean, and wind in the trees.
After breakfast, I walked a couple laps around the small island, stopping at a small shack selling beer and snacks. I ordered a Belikin. While I chatted with the shopkeeper, Margot, she offered up a shot of a concoction of bitters liquor and herbs. It was quite tasty.
Now, after lunch, sitting on the deck watching pelicans dive for fish about 10 feet away, I feel like another nap.
A fine slice of paradise I have found to learn to scuba dive….
Not lost, just wandering….