Wednesday, July 04, 2007

From Belize, Part I: In which I take four airplanes in three days and meet Brother John.

For archiving purposes, I thought I would post the email updates I'm sending to a smattering of recipients re my trip to Belize. No need to read if read you already have.

We're here. We're here in Belize, specifically in Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize. The sky: blue. The water: large and muddy and blue. The buildings: red-roofed, aqua or white painted, flat-fronted.

After a three to four-hour delay in Dallas yesterday, my two friends (Annette and Michelle) and I finally made a plane down to Belize City, where we met my brother Peter (who'd flown through Houston on another airline). He was waiting for us just inside immigration, reading Foreign Affairs, waiting for us to arrive and tell him where we were staying in Belize so they would officially let him into the country.

Our plane's delay had made us miss our connecting flight to PG (a 1-hr, 3-stop flight on the littlest plane--imagine flying inside of a fish), so we stayed in Belize City last night. We lucked out. We were choosing between two hotels--the Global Village Hotel, which was some indeterminate (but short) taxi ride away and the Embassy Hotel, which was "right across the parking lot" from the airport (or so said the guide). It was dark and humid and, total, we had eleven bags to roll, so we were feeling (and were, I'm sure) conspicuous. Belize City is not know for its safety. But we saw a building that seemed Embassy Hotelish, took off across a parking lot, and prayedprayedprayed.

Prayers answered.

What we found across the parking lot was the funniest--the funniest, nicest thing. It was a giant, multi-floored sort of ramshackle building. The Embassy Hotel is run by a man named John, whose humor centered on delivering obvious information in a deadpan fashion ("You can turn on the light with either hand, right or left, it doesn't matter.") and his wife. (John: "My wife is a concert pianist. She's also an ex-Dallas Cowgirl. She's just just a little bit prettier than I am but not much." His wife, from another room: "He has to say that because he knows I'm listening." She smiled.) They are Christians, and the sign in front of the hotel said "HAVE YOU READ YOUR BIBLE TODAY?" They're Americans, who live down in Belize, running what seem to be various hotels and service programs for church and college groups. ("I'm not retired; I'm just tired.") We got two rooms, with AC, showers, and free dinner and breakfast (John: "The cook is out, so the food is on the house." John's wife: "Not on the house, John. It's dark. They shouldn't be up on the roof. [To me] I have to give him his own humor back."), which was made for us by a middle-aged American Airlines mechanic named Bobby, who was talkative and lonely and happy to call us by name. I would love to see John and Grandpa Hoggard chat together. They'd be--I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

This morning we skipped like a stone across the surface of Belize, stopping for a moment in Dangriga (both g's are hard, I learned), in Placencia, and then, finally, in PG. The town is small. There really is only one main street. And everything is on it. We live at one end, the school we'll be at for this week and next is at the other. We met the principal, saw the classrooms, decided on an extended day (7:30-11:30, 1-3:30), and are gearing up for tomorrow.

This will be--such, such a delight.

The world is so accessible, it turns out. Saturday, DC. Sunday, DC, NY. Monday, NY, Texas, Belize. And here I am, zip zoop, on the edge of the ocean and a jungle.

Come visit. We have a couch you can sleep on.

With love,

P.S. Belize City is a 2-hour flight from Dallas. I'm just saying.

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