Kinda powerful, right? Needless to say, this book made an impact on us, and since reading it, we've tried to keep its principles in our minds when making life decisions over the past years -- from learning to sail and buying a sailboat -- to retiring in Belize. Both of these choices have introduced us to entirely new worlds of different people, cultures, and experiences from our former workaday lives in North Carolina. Our recent trip to Placencia, where we chose to travel with the locals on ferries and buses rather than to catch a quick (but more expensive) flight, was another example of pushing ourselves just a bit out of our comfort zones and thereby reaping the rewards of more interesting, scenic, and less expensive travel.
We were offered yet another chance to travel off the beaten path recently, and embracing it was as easy a decision as we've ever had to make. We still can't believe our amazingly good luck. We were riding our bikes down to Maria's fruit stand and chose to take the back, unpaved road rather than the main cobblestone road on this particular day. We just happened to run into friends Chunky and Ruthie riding their bikes in the opposite direction. We were in town later than normal because Barry got into a long poolside conversation with a tourist staying in our building that morning; otherwise, we would have been long gone by the time they were riding on that particular one block of road! So we figure our chance meeting with them was meant to be.
Seeing us triggered Ruthie to recall that we enjoyed sailing, and she filled us in on an opportunity to jump aboard a large charter catamaran for a run down to Rio Dulce, Guatemala. The boat needed to be hauled out to replace the transducer (depth sounder), and this was the boatyard that the charter company (TMM) used. TMM had offered up the extra berths to people who would like to join them for the ride down and back, with the only costs being immigration fees and food for the trip. Chunky and Ruthie had already committed to the trip, along with one other person, but there was one double cabin left. Once we determined that the offer was legit, we were quick to jump right in. Barry had heard about the beauty of the Rio Dulce ("Sweet River") and had added it to our list of destinations to visit in Central America. Not to mention that the trip would give us the opportunity to visit another new country. The boat we would be traveling on was s/v (sailing vessel) Hope, a 46-foot Leopard catamaran, and the most expensive boat in TMM's fleet to charter. Say what??? Did I mention how lucky we felt!?
We had to be on the boat by 8pm Friday night to sleep aboard, since we'd be taking off Saturday morning at 5 am. So, the next few days were a whirlwind of packing and organizing our stuff for the trip, buying our food, and taking care of whatever business we needed to take care of. We knew Ruthie had been cooking up a storm (and would probably have enough to feed an army -- she's pretty well known for that!), so we went with simpler stuff that was easy to fix and eat: oatmeal, fruit, sandwich stuff, cheese, snack bars, peanut butter, crackers, and so forth. We figured we'd be eating dinners in town most nights, so didn't think we'd need a whole lot of dinner food. Also, boat refrigerators have only so much space, so we didn't want to bring too much that required refrigeration. Thanks to Ruthie, no one ever would go hungry on this boat!
Our first trip to town on Friday was to take Paisley to Pampered Paws for boarding. We had originally planned to take her with us on the water taxi, but Barry came up with a plan to bungee her airline travel case to his bike rack, and it actually did work! I carried her bedding and toys in my front basket and rode behind him to make sure she was okay. She looks pretty uncomfortable in this photo but later relaxed and did just fine. This was her first-ever transport by bike, and she was a trooper as usual!
We met Chunky and Ruthie at Hurricane's over the water for dinner. We had plenty of laughs and a great meal. The food was a bit pricier than I expected since it's such a casual-appearing place (and we'd gotten spoiled by lower restaurant prices in Placencia), but it was delicious and nicely presented. One pet peeve: the menu prices did not include GST (Belize's 12.5% sales tax that is normally included in posted prices), but at least we got happy hour pricing on drinks!