Today was a day.
The temperature in Cayo reached one-thousand degrees. To this very moment, I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea to walk home with the kids at noon. But it was so sunny and inviting. Antonia was in San Ignacio with the Standard 6 students taking an exam, and it just seemed like the sort of day to walk home for lunch.
Here is the timeline: 11:29- bearable. 11:30- I’m gonna die.
I got sunburned in twenty minutes and went straight up to my room to sit in front of the fan for the entire hour. No lunch. Too hot.
I was left with no choice but to wear a visor on the way back to school. Let me just say, though, it was white-and-grey dry-weave Nike visor, and I think you might have approved—even those of you who called my rugged Eddie Bauer bag a fanny pack.
Just when I was rounding the last corner, a black car with tinted windows pulled up and I heard a familiar, “Oh my Lard.”
I turned around, and Antonia stuck her head out the window, smiling.
“Brooke, you went walking? At lunch?”
She laughed, rolled up the window and said, “Get your bag. Right now, Brooke. We have to go to Belize City.”
I got into the car and held on for dear life due to a combination of broken seat belts, car sickness, curvy roads, and things like three cars traveling side-by-side in the same direction on a two lane road. But we passed through all the familiar territory: Teakettle, Yahl-bac, Belmopan, Hattiesville, and even the Jaguar Paw- I miss you team 14!
Finally, an hour-and-a-half later (it should have been, like, a 2 hour trip) I was at the UPS office across from Tropic Air staring at the Caribbean. We were there to pick up a package that had been sent in love before I mailed out the Global Express information. There, make a note of this, UPS customs charged us $114 on a package that only had a stated value of $100, and already cost $200 US to mail in the first place. What the?
Lucky for us, the customs guy was Antonia’s cousin. He showed Antonia the amount on the calculator and said, How much of this do you want to pay? Antonia threw her arms up and said, Ohhhhhh my Laaaaard!
He only charged us $30, then he winked and asked if I’d be willing to stay three years instead of three months. I just smiled and sipped my coke like a good volunteer.
In the end, we got our package.
I thought we were headed to Old Belize next, but some how we wound up in the Princess Casino.
Many places in Belize, like the Immigration Office, only accept US dollars. Antonia needed $70 US to apply for a Canadian passport, and no one in the village just has US money lying around. So, to get money changed, the villagers have to go to the casino. (That’s their story and I’m sticking to it.)
Since Antonia kidnapped me walking home from lunch, I didn’t have my passport or ID on me, so I really didn’t think I’d be able to get in, and the gift shop looked much more fun. But no such luck. Antonia knew the lady working security, and they let me pass with nothing but a hair clip and hand sanitizer. From the window you could see the cruise ships. I spent all my time in the bathroom playing with the warm water faucets and inspecting my sunburn.
When I walked out to join Antonia, who was visiting with other Santa Familia friends all there for air-conditioning, free Coke and Crystal water, and, of course, to change their money…
Who did we run into? Evan, from CARE Belize. (Allison, I wish he’d dragged you to the casino with him today, we could have met!) It’s a small world, especially considering the car in the parking lot had a sticker on it that said Indiana Wesleyan.
We stayed in Belize City until about 4:30, headed home, hit village traffic (have you ever heard such a thing? It’s basically 15 cars lined up behind a tractor for 3 or 4 villages in a row), and made it home by about 6:30.
We opened the package and it was like Christmas! New outfits for confirmation and Easter, shoes and accessories for the outfits, sunglasses, an umbrella, sinus medicine, a headband, and a sweatshirt! Antonia received 2 new suits for her Thesis presentation in Canada in March (she held them up and said, ‘I’ve never had anything like this, Brooke. I’ll look so professional and important!’) and then she tried to convince me to buy a bunch of Guatemalan headbands and wallets to sell in the states to pay back Lisa for all the goodies. I told her I didn’t think that would work. But it was a beautiful, joyous moment for both of us.
Translation: we love Lisa. Lesson learned: Use Global Express.
I got back to Ms. Ida’s at around 7:30, and all the kids ran up to me with hugs, because they all thought I’d disappeared on my walk back to school. Ms. Ida made me a cup of coffee, and that was the end of the day.
Up next: Brooke vs. Running