25 - student - NYC That's all for now.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Worst Vacation Ever (Day 3) : Continued...

We had already missed the 8:30 water taxi and the next one left at 9:30. The only other way back to Belize City was taking the small little propeller planes that ran every hour. However, they were much more expensive and as I mentioned, our cash flow was running dangerously low. Anyway, we headed over to the water taxi. We paid and boarded the boat and began - what would become a hated ritual - the trip to the mainland.

We arrived in Belize City 90 minutes later and found a cab driver. He took us to the embassy, driving through what he described as the "bad part of town." It was only about an 8 minute drive. We got out of the taxi expecting to wait at the back of a huge line. It was 11:30ish. Mata Rocks staff had told us to get there at 5:30am. The security guard informed us that it didn't open for US citizens until 1:30pm. After being assured that there was nothing we could fill out or do in preparation for our appointment, we extracted a promise that we would be first in line (after all the place was empty and we were the only ones there) and then went to find some lunch.

We found a little hot dog stand fairly close by and were approached by a local taxi driver named Jimmy. He told us that he did private exursions trips for $150 US dollars where he'd drive us out to the jungle and hire a guide and take us cave tubing. We told him that sounded fantastic, but we were staying in San Pedro and had to catch the last water taxi back to the island at 4:30. He said that would be no problem as long as we left before 2:30.

Well, that was exciting for us, because we thought today was going to be a total bust spent dealing with the passports. We got really hyped about the prospect of this cave tubing extravaganza. Big Mistake.

After lunch we sat in the courtyard of the embassy waiting for 1:30. But this was "Belize time." 1:30 came to mean 2:00 before they opened the doors to us.

We went in and explained the situation. The first thing the woman did was give us a ton of forms to fill out and told us to go to the back of the line (which had formed since 11:30). I complained that we had been waiting there for almost 3 hours and we had asked if we could fill out any forms in the interim and were told no. She frowned and ignored me. We filled out the forms and then cut in line. There were some evil eyes that WE ignored.

The woman looked over our forms for a few minutes and then asked for our passport photos.

What??? What passport photos? She told us that we needed to bring some passport photos. Well why didn't she tell me that the first time we were at this window? Sorry. She gave us a map to the nearest photo shop.

It wasn't close. We took off on foot and followed the map back into the "bad part of town" and were offered weed about 25 times. I think they may have been offering other things as well. Anyway, we finally arrived at the photo shop pretty much giving up on our tubing trip as this whole process had taken quite some time. We took the photos - the angriest passport photographs you'll ever see, and returned to the embassy. Another 20 minute walk. Tubing was out for sure.

We cut back in line, again, and gave the woman our photos. She took them and told us to wait outside for them to call our names. We went back outdoors and waited for another half hour before they called our names. We went to a different window with a different woman who asked us a few questions and then told us that we needed to pay $175 (or $350 Belize). I pulled out my credit card and she shook her head. Cash only.

Are you &$!%ing kidding me???? I don't have $175 in cash. For god's sake we've been walking in Drugtown, Belize. I'd have to be a total moron to carry that kinda cash on me. Shrugs her shoulders.

Where's the closest ATM that takes US bank cards? Other side of town. Back by the water taxi.


At this point we don't have enough cash to pay for a taxi. So we walk all the way back to the ATM - about 40 minutes. Back by all the same shady individuals. More weed offered. No thanks. I get the money out of the ATM and we grab a taxi. Back to the embassy. Again.

We get there and pay for the passport replacements.

"Come back tomorrow," she says, "they'll be ready around 1:30pm."


We had to really hurry back to catch the last water taxi back to San Pedro that night. Getting stuck in Belize City would have probably meant death or worse.

So we rode the water taxi back to San Pedro that night, arriving back around 6pm. We grabbed a nice dinner, but it was tainted by the knowledge that we would have to waste another day going back to Belize City to pick up the passports. But I had come up with, what I thought, was a way to save the last full day of our trip. We were going to schedule a snorkling trip for the morning off San Pedro and then we'd grab a water taxi to Belize City, pick up our passports, find Jimmy and go on that tubing trip, coming back in time to catch the last water taxi back to San Pedro. Well.... that was the plan anyway.

That night we were exhausted. After dinner we came home to crash. We decided at dinner that we were just going to crawl in bed, turn on the A/C, and watch whatever was playing on HBO. Well... I jumped in bed and turned on the TV. Jeanine went to wash up. On her way to the bathroom, she stopped by to flip on the A/C. She turned the knob and I heard a weird noise and simultaneously the lights and TV went out.


We went outside and the entire island all along the coastline was dark. Nothing. We learned the next day that the entire country had lost power for over 8 hours. JEANINE HAD SHUT DOWN THE POWER TO THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF BELIZE!

That night we slept in the stultifying humid air sweating ferociously. I finally got to sleep only to be awoken when the lights came back on in the wee hours of the morning. Well, at least it couldn't get any worse, right? Wrong.

P.S. We didn't end up needing the police report at all. In fact all of that time with the police, where we might have been actually enjoying our vacation, was wasted. Another time where the Mata Rocks staff's information was amazingly useless and wasteful.


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