Our trip to Belize came off without a hitch. After months of planning and preparation, we are here in Belize with Paisley! After moving out of our apartment in Chapel Hill, we spent most of our last week in North Carolina with Emily's mother and step-father, who drove us to the Holiday Inn in Charlotte on Friday prior to our Saturday morning flight. It was great to get to see them and go up to their mountain place for a few days of relaxation prior to making this big move.
Barry and Paisley Holiday Inn near Charlotte airport
I had spent a lot of time before our move researching how to get Paisley into Belize, and that research paid off. The in-cabin travel kennel we purchased, a SturdiBag Large (http://www.sturdiproducts.com/4111/xcart/product.php?productid=2weeblylink_new_window
) functioned absolutely perfectly! Barry had done a great job of acclimating Paisley to it ahead of time by taking her along in it to places she enjoys going, so she'd associate it with fun. It really worked as she was cool as a cucumber during the entire travel day and never made a peep. No one at US Airways said a word about the kennel, and with its flexible spring top (with thin, flexible poles like a tent), it fit right under the seat of the first-class cabin. It would probably have worked fine in coach as well, but we decided to splurge this time so it would just be us and Paisley on our row of the plane.
Look closely and you'll see Paisley chilling in her SturdiBag
Paisley under the airline seat, still chilling!
Bloody Marys -- one of the perks of first class! We also had a really nice lunch. Who said airline food sucks?
I thought Barry looked kind of pilot-ish in this outfit. Only missing his wings!
When we arrived at the international airport in Belize City, we had to take Paisley to a special room to be inspected by BAHA officials. I'd done my homework and had all the appropriate paperwork, so it was a breeze. We paid our $70 BZD ($35 US) fee and continued on to the Tropic Air counter.
On our Tropic Air "puddle jumper" to the island, Barry was able to take Paisley in his lap in the SturdiBag. This was a tougher leg of the trip as it was quite warm on the plane, and we had to stop to let one person off in Caye Caulker prior to touching down at the San Pedro airstrip, which lengthened the flight. The taxi ride in an old beater mini-van with no A/C to our condo was also hot and uncomfortable for Paisley, and she was really panting. We'd given her some water in the Belize City airport, but we knew she needed more, and she drank with gusto once we got to our condo.
The Grand Caribe staff had really prepared the condo for us with flowers everywhere. They had also put the remaining furniture and household items into place. It looked great!
Paisley found the sofa to be pretty comfortable after a long day of traveling...
Unfortunately, on this hot and humid day with only a light breeze, we quickly realized that our condo air conditioning was not working. It had been fine when we were here in July, so we were surprised. Barry figured out that the thermostat batteries had been removed, so we rounded up a couple of double A's from some things we'd brought with us, but even with the display working, there was no air coming out, cool or otherwise. After turning on the fans and getting partially unpacked, we went and told the front desk, and they quickly got several men out to check it out. They were able to fix the problem (we're still not exactly sure what was wrong, but some wiggling of wires was required), and while they were here, they also leveled the refrigerator and fixed a leaky pipe from the water heater. There are still a few more small punch list items that need attending to, but they are all lower priority. We were really pleased with the quick service once we reported the problem.
Once the repairs were complete, we grabbed our backpacks and walked to town for several essential grocery items so that we would have breakfast food in the morning. And rum for a drink, of course! Our bikes, along with the rest of the household items we shipped down from NC, have not yet arrived, so it is a slower trip to town, about two miles of walking each way. It will certainly keep us in good shape! It was dinnertime by the time we got back, so we placed an order for chicken fajitas to go at the Grand Caribe beach bar prior to dropping our grocery items back at our condo. We were able to pick up our dinner order, along with a huge slice of key lime pie to share, soon afterwards.
Right as we were sitting down to eat our feast, Doris knocked on our door. Over the course of the afternoon, we had tried knocking on Bernie and Doris' condo door several times since we had left two suitcases with them in July and needed our linens that were in one of them in order to make our bed that night. Unfortunately, they were not at home, and I was starting to have visions of sleeping on the mattress pad. We had inquired at the front desk, and it turned out that they were involved in a wedding that was going on at Grand Caribe this very day. We decided to leave a note in their door so we could retrieve our suitcases when they got home. Fortunately, Doris came back to Chico Caribe to walk their dog, Lucky, prior to heading from the wedding cocktail party to the dinner, and she was able to let us in to get our suitcases. Since the wedding dinner likely ran rather late into the evening, we were very relieved!
After getting our suitcases, we inhaled our dinner and pie. We finished up our day by watching some Hurricane Irene coverage on TV and doing more unpacking. Until our hangers arrive in our shipment, we're going to be living out of suitcases to some extent, but we do have a few drawers in our dresser for some of our clothes.
Overnight there was a serious thunderstorm with torrential rain and plenty of flashing lightning. Paisley, who had been sleeping on the sofa, came into the bedroom pretty nervous. I put a towel on the floor by my side of the bed for her to sleep on, but she still jumped up for comforting (not onto the bed, just onto the side of it) quite a few times between sometime in the middle of the night and morning, so between that and the noisy storm, we didn't get the best of sleep. The pillows we got in our furniture package are softer than we like as well, so we will probably have to find some better pillows to purchase eventually. Still, it just felt good to get off our feet after such a long day of travel.
This morning (Sunday) we took Paisley out on the beach for a little walking and ball playing. She seemed to have a good time. We saw a HUGE sting ray swimming near the Chico Caribe pier [UPDATE: I have been informed this was actually an eagle ray. They are very common.
Barry and Paisley outside Chico Caribe
Eagle Ray -- this guy had a HUGE wingspan
View of Chico Caribe building from pier
Leaving Paisley for her morning nap, we walked back into town for more groceries and some household items. We were amazed how much we managed to stuff into our two backpacks. Since our cookware hasn't yet arrived from the US, we bought a stir-fry pan and a Pyrex set so we could do a little cooking. We also picked up three small woven cotton rugs, in addition to quite a few groceries. Here I am walking back with my part of the haul.
We got all this yummy bread from The Baker for $10 BZD ($5 US). The loaves are whole wheat sandwich bread and cinnamon bread and are full-size loaves.
I really liked these little rugs (there are two next to each other in the photo) that we found at Caye Supplies. They go well with our decor and will give us a place to wipe our sandy feet. We need to go back for a couple more for outside the doors too.
This afternoon, Barry got an email from the shipper who will be driving our 20 boxes from Houston to Belize. We thought they had made it onto his previous truckload, but they had not. Sounds like they will be here in less than two weeks, though! I'm not quite sure where we'll put it all as it already seems like we have a lot of "stuff" in this one-bedroom condo, but I am sure we'll figure out something. Maybe we need to start up a local craigslist for San Pedro in case we end up with more than we actually have room for?!