Getting To Belize

My day started out great…except for maybe the 1:15am alarm.  Unlike me…I had actually packed the previous day (Thanksgiving).  Normally I wait until the last possible moment.  Maybe I’ve learned my lesson, but I doubt it.  I had enough time Friday morning to shower and hug/kiss the dogs good-bye.

My friend Kristi (bless her) offered to let me park my car at her house and she even got up at 3:30am to give me a ride to the airport.  I’m very lucky.

Once there, check-in was a breeze.  There was no waiting at all.  In fact it was so quick that I actually completed that task before TSA opened at 4am.  There were a few travelers starting to line up at TSA, but I was able to get into the even shorter TSA Pre-check line due to obtaining my Global Entry card last yearTSA Pre-check allows me to go through TSA without removing liquids, coat, shoes, laptops, etc.  It’s so worth having.

By about 4:15am I was checked in, through security, and at the gate waiting for my flight.  I also noticed the plane was already there so there wasn’t a chance for us to be delayed.

Wow…that was going great!!!

Then thirty minutes into our flight came the flight attendant announcement that nobody wants to hear…”if there are any medical personal on board please ring your flight attendant call button”.  I waited impatiently to first get some sort assurance that nobody was seriously hurt/ill and then to find out if we’d have to turn-around or do an emergency landing.  Neither happened thank goodness, but when we landed in Houston everyone had to wait for paramedics to board and remove the passenger.  He walked off, so that was a good sign.

Things were moving along great again…until…

I had described a food court for my friend to meet me at.  I knew exactly where it was because I’ve done this exact flight to Belize several times and the plane has always landed at the same terminal.  After walking for quite a while I realized my plane had come in at a unfamiliar terminal.  Unfortunately that was at the same time my phone decided it wouldn’t complete calls or send text messages.  Nothing I tried worked.  My friend couldn’t hear the questions I was asking, but luckily I did hear her say something about a Panda Express.  As luck would have it there is only one Panda Express in the Houston airport.  After walking for about 30 minutes I found her.

We were easily able to change our seats for the Houston to Belize flight so that we could sit together and all went as planned.  The pilot even made an announcement that we were doing our final decent into Belize City, but about half way into our decent he announced that we were being asked to circle before landing.  We circled several times while ascending twice, but the third time we ascended I notice we went quite high (above the cloud level).  I turned to Barb and said “oh…this isn’t good…we are too high to be circling again”.  Sure enough the next announcement from the captain went something like this…

“Belize is having trouble with their radar system.  We were third in line to land, but we don’t have enough fuel to continue our holding pattern, therefore we will be landing in San Pedro Sula to refuel before heading back to Belize.”

My internal response was “um…ok”.  I wasn’t 100% sure where San Pedro Sula was and since Belize also has a San Pedro Town there was a bit of confusion.  The pilot never came back on and told us we were going to Honduras, but it didn’t take too long for everyone to figure it out.

As we were refueling an older couple on the flight, who didn’t speak English, asked to get off the plane since their final destination was San Pedro.  The flight attendant (who admitted she didn’t even know if we were in Guatemala or Honduras until the passengers corrected her) tried explaining to them that they really shouldn’t get off because it wasn’t the right place.  She finally elicited those of us sitting in the area to convince them not to get off.

Barb
Barb holding her precious phone…smiling once our troubles were solved.

Meanwhile my friend and I were trying to figure out how to contact our transportation and hotel to let them know we’d be late.  We finally settled on texting her husband the email addresses and he contacted both of them.  They both responded quickly.  Dani (our transportation) said she had already heard about it and would wait for us…I figured she would.  Our hotel said they’d be in the office until 11pm (which was plenty of time).  Problem solved…now we could focus on a couple of idiots that insisted on blaming the pilot, flight attendants, and United Airlines.  I’m pretty sure that none of them wanted to go to Honduras either.

All in all we made it to Belize about two hours late…I’m really not sure because of the time changes and the fact we were early at one point.

As promised Dani was waiting for us and even smiling.  She had been waiting since 3pm and it was after 6:30pm when we arrived.  It was a long drive to San Ignacio due to the poor quality of the highways and the complete darkness…not to mention the low clouds (the reason we couldn’t land in the first place).  Dani said they could hear us circling and right after we ascended and headed to Honduras the other two flights landed.

Once we got our luggage in the room (about 9pm) we headed to Hodes for dinner and ran into Dani, so we got to enjoy dinner with her and her boyfriend.

It was a bit of an adventure to get here and now I can technically say I’ve been to Honduras, even if I don’t have the passport stamp to prove it.

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