My friend and I spent most of the last day calculating and recalculating whether or not she would make her flight. Nearly every way we sliced it, it didn’t look good. It all hinged on whose estimate we should believe, but even so if it took the least amount of time we’d be back to Caye Caulker by 1pm and that scenario seemed very unlikely.
Her flight was scheduled to leave the island at 3:10pm. It would take about 10 minutes to get to Belize City, which would put her there in time for her 5:06pm flight back to the states. We knew there was a 4:10pm flight and figured she could make that one if it wasn’t full.
At about 11am the “optimistic” captain said we were just outside of Belize City. I interrupted that to mean 30 minutes or so…my excitement increased. We wouldn’t actually go into Belize City; we’d just pass by it (and would not even see it). But, I knew that water taxis made it from Belize City to Caye Caulker in 45 minutes. We had more than three hours available to us.
“Optimistic” captain took a nap and “pessimistic/realistic” captain took over the helm. “Optimistic” captain knew we had a flight to catch, but “pessimistic/realistic” captain didn’t until we started asking questions regarding when we might make it back. He told us there was no way we were going to make it to the 3:10pm or 4:10pm flights. We were doomed.
By now it was after 2pm and Caye Caulker was nowhere in sight. We started debating how difficult it would or would not be to get her on different international flight the next day. I didn’t say it out loud, but I also wondered how much it was going to cost and whether my air miles would be useful.
“Pessimistic/realistic” captain took a couple of phone calls during this time and before we knew it, they were sending a “rescue” boat to us. It would cost $125 US, but at this point we were willing.
We were told it would take 30 minutes for them to get to us and about 30 minutes for them to get us back to Caye Caulker. About 40 minutes later, we found out that they went around the backside of the island we were near (which just happened to be a rather large island for the area). Once again, we were feeling defeated.
Then finally we saw them headed towards us. They pulled beside the sailboat and without either boat coming to a complete stop we “jumped ship”. By now everyone knew we were getting desperate, so the captain of this new boat hauled ass. I know of no other way to describe it. I seriously thought my internal organs were going to break loose as we hit each wave.
We made it back to Caye Caulker at about 3:40pm and ran to our hotel. My mom already knew we were in a bit of trouble, so my friend’s suitcase was sitting on the front step. The boat captain followed behind in his golf-cart-taxi. W still had no idea whether there would be room on the 4:10 flight for her. The boat captain/taxi driver called the island airport while he rushed her off.
That was the last thing I knew before getting an email from my friend once she was safely back in the United States. Here is her explanation about what happened after she pulled away in the golf-cart-taxi.
The boat captain/cab driver flew over the bumpy, sandy roads. He determined via his phone call that they had decided not to stop on Caye Caulker for the 4:10pm flight since no one had booked. He contacted them in just enough time to change the plan and stop. My friend got to the small airport and paid for her flight. As she was doing that, the boat captain/taxi driver called United Airlines in Belize City and my friend was told that she would not be able to get on the flight since she’d be arriving too late. Then right before the 4:10pm flight arrived United Airlines told her she could make it if she ran.
And so, the drama was over. I felt like I was on a roller coaster for four days. One minute there was no way she was going to make her flight, the next minute there was optimism. The only way if finally turned out was with the help of several locals.