In which I tried again to get to Belize, after failing to reach it the day before.
On May 22, most of the participants in the Program for Belize (PfB) Archaeological Project were waking up to their first morning in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area. Meanwhile, I was still in California: hoping that my flight out of Arcata would not be cancelled a second time. Luckily it was not, and my roommate graciously dropped me off at the airport.
At this point everything was going suspiciously well. I arrived at the airport with plenty time to spare, my flight was not delayed, and my professor had arranged transportation for me from Belize City to our campsite. Better yet, another Humboldt State University student, Corina, would be arriving in Belize on the same flight as me. That meant I would not be traveling alone. Of course, this pattern could not continue forever.
When Corina arrived at the Arcata-Eureka airport, we began chatting about the journey ahead. It soon became clear that we would be arriving in Belize at different times. I pulled up her itinerary on my tablet, and it turned out that we would not be traveling together. We were on the same flight from Arcata to San Francisco, but after that we split up. This was an unwanted surprise, because we were supposed to get picked up from the Philip S. W. Goldson Airport in Belize City at the same time.
I contacted Dr. Cortes-Rincon (our professor and Humboldt’s project director), whose number I had thanks to the fiasco yesterday. I explained to her that Corina and I were not on the same flight, and that there was about an hour-and-a-half gap between our arrival times in Belize. Thankfully it was not a problem. Dr. Cortes-Rincon replied that the same individual was still able to transport both Corina and I, but one of us would have to wait at the Belize City airport until the other arrived.
After that the trip was relatively smooth. There was an irritating delay on the runway in San Francisco, but that is part of traveling. I flew from Arcata to San Francisco, then to Houston, and finally to Belize City. When I exited the plane in Belize, I was greeted by the most brilliant sunshine of my life. The tropical sun seemed to illuminate the nearby vegetation in special ways, bringing out hues of green that I had not seen before. It was also delightfully warm, which I welcomed after my long sojourn in chilly Arcata. However, I could not enjoy my surroundings yet – I had to get through the customs line.
I had been warned that the customs process in Belize would be difficult. Since my colleagues and I had archaeological equipment in our bags, we could expect an interrogation from airport security. But this proved not to be true. The security personnel were friendly and courteous, and only asked basic questions before waving me on. This interaction set a trend of unexpected kindness from nearly everyone I encountered, which continued until my last minute in Belize.
I now had to locate Dr. Gunderjon, who would be picking up Corina and I. More on that in the next post.
The ride from the Belize City airport to our campsite in the Rio Bravo area was too eventful to be crammed into this post. So it will serve as the next entry in this series.