Every trip we have made to Belize has been a breeze! Easy flight from Dallas to Belize City. Puddle jumper to Ambergris Caye on a 12 minute flight. Easy flight, no checked baggage, no hassle. Granted, this trip is a little different, as this is an extended stay in our new place and we have packed some necessary items that are difficult and expensive to find in Belize.
Having an early morning flight, several pieces of checked luggage, and taking a dog on an international flight, we decide to get a hotel near the airport. Avoid the last minute rush to the airport in Dallas traffic. We thought this was a great idea. Someone had different ideas.
Our adventure went something like this…..
Two taxis, three planes, eight pieces of luggage, a four hour layover, one missed connecting flight, a dog who desperately needs to pee in the Houston airport….you get the picture!
We arrive in Belize city, only to realize we are dangerously close to missing our connecting “puddle jumper” flight to Placencia. Oh yes, did I mention, it’s the last flight of the day. Southwest has open seating, so we strategically grabbed seats as close to the front of the plane as possible, knowing that landing in the small airport in Belize, you want to be off the plane first and get in the customs line as quickly as possible. Another strategic move….after we clear customs check, we have to pick up the checked baggage and have those cleared at customs. Oh yes, our dog Floyd, we have to have his paperwork cleared to enter the country. We now have 15 minutes before our connecting flight to Placencia. We decide to split up. I get the luggage, you get the dog cleared and we meet at the customs line. It’s going to be close, but we can do it!
Almost every time, we have been waved through customs, no problems. You guessed it, not this time. This is the moment I realize our ingenious idea of putting the fishing poles in the TV box was probably not the best idea! In my defense, finding this box in the attic solved the fishing pole problem. They fit perfectly, we can add t-shirts for extra protection. As you enter Belize, if you have new items to claim, you will pay duty fees. Of course, a new TV box, looks like you are bringing….. a new TV into the country! What was I thinking?
As the agents see us enter the customs area with eight bags and a new TV box, we are immediately waved into the “Items to Claim” line. No! This line takes much longer and we are dangerously close to missing our connecting flight. All eight bags, up on the table, unzip the luggage….anything to claim? No. But sir, this big TV box is not really a TV, it’s the only thing that would hold our fishing poles. Really, the TV box has clothes and fishing poles. I try to explain as they cut the box open, to yes, find clothes and fishing poles. They smile and shake their heads. I grabbed the tape, which I had in my carryon, (I guess I assumed they would check the TV box), taped the box….. grabbed the zipper on the suitcase, which they didn’t even look in after laughing about the fishing poles…….you guessed it…..the zipper breaks. I should have assumed this would happen with this “oversized $5 flea market suitcase” I bought the week before so we could take advantage of Southwests two free checked bags policy. The porter who helped load the luggage is aware we are trying to catch the last flight to Placencia, grabs the open suitcase, throws it on the other seven bags and runs to the check-in counter. I yell to him….”.that suitcase is open”.. he holds the top down and rushes to the counter. I had visions of my underwear being strewn throughout the airport. At this point, I really didn’t care. We make it to the counter where the very calm employee, just smiles and states,” sorry, the flight just left, the next flight leaves tomorrow morning.”
I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. My suitcase is busted open, we missed the last flight out for the night, we have no hotel room and my dog desperately needs to pee. What are our options? We really don’t want to spend the night in Belize City, and most hotels wont take a dog anyway. If we can get a rental car, it’s a four hour drive.
Another strategic move….you run across the street and check for rental cars, I take the dog outside to pee. We meet back here. As I run out of the airport, taxi drivers are yelling….taxi lady??….no, I don’t need a taxi….. I need grass…..my dog has to pee!
No options for cars, but Floyd feels better, just as an employee says, “check with Maya airlines, I think they have one flight left for the day.” Thank You Jesus!! It’s boarding now, two seats left. They grab our TV box full of fishing poles, my busted, half zipped, flea market suitcase….I grab the dog and run to the gate. Yes, they were boarding and yes, there were two seats left.
We can now relax and laugh…..and we did!
The very unusual experience was well worth the hassle, as this is how I spent our first day in Placencia!
Lesson from Belize……..
Relax, it all works out! We arrived safely, provided some entertainment to the airport staff and learned some valuable lessons…..pack lightly….buy those cardboard tubes to transport your fishing poles……and pass on the $5 suitcase from the flea market!!