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I did not find Belize.  Belize found me.

In spring 2009, a skydiving friend took a Caribbean cruise for her honeymoon & -- like most adults these days – posted the photos on Facebook.  I glazed over most of them, but the caption “cave-tubing in Belize” grabbed my attention.  There stood the newlyweds, in calf-deep water, helmets & lifevests on, and a pitch black opening behind them.
I was sold.  I wanted to go.

However, at that time, my life in Australia had just commenced so Belize was swiftly forgotten.  Fast forward to summer 2012.  My mother & I had some extra cash and since 2013 was a celebratory year for her side of the family (my twin cousins would be turning 21; my aunt & uncle, 50 and I, 30) we began to research a cruise.  The majority of the tours docked at Caribbean places I had previously visited.  Out of the masses, one company included stops on the Honduran island of Roatan, Cozumel [Mexico] & Belize.

Three years after my original interest in Belize, cave-tubing sounded more appealing since my spring 2012 trip to Puerto Rico resulted in newfound awe for caverns. When I read about the Belizean on-land excursions offered by the cruise company, it was impossible to pick just one option – I wanted to do all ten! 

The idea simmered on the back burner in my mind.  Knowing a cruise would cost a chunk of change for my aunt/uncle/3 cousins I toyed with the idea of – once again – flying solo.  Meanwhile, I found someone other than my mother who was willing to put up with my psychotic, hypochondriacal ways… a boyfriend!

The boyf needed enlightenment though.  He mentioned The North Shore as a favorite hot spot of his. I was overjoyed to be dating a fellow traveler who surfed the beaches of Hawaii.  Unfortunately & hilariously, he was actually alluding to The North Shore area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  In fact, he had never ventured outside of the United States of America. He was keen on cruising – which initially sounded cheap – but when we factored in the excursions & libations, the trip rose to a discouraging price.  Though thwarted, I did not give up on Belize.

My boyfriend was a beach aficionado – like myself – therefore I figured Belize would be an easy, short, baby step toward transforming my Steel City native into a world traveler!  Yet one issue still remained: he was a notorious procrastinator.  By early December 2012, I had given up nagging him to apply for a passport.  We both sat on the fence until later in December when Belize was featured on my daily calendar “1,000 Places To See Before You Die.” I took it as a sign from God.  Over the holidays, I ironed out the details & we were finally prepared to commit, but – unbeknownst to us – still had a handful of obstacles to overcome.
I had been tracking airfare rates to Belize since before I met my boyfriend, and the only trend was that the price kept rising.  I thought flights often became cheaper as time wore on.  Not the case here.  Since the airfare to Belize through common carriers was asinine, we decided to use Priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price, but we still had to be smart about the process.  The website claimed it would not book a flight with more than 1 connecting flight.  Great!  We compared Cleveland, Akron-Canton, Pittsburgh & Columbus airports.  There were numerous flights – some red-eyes, some with a duration of 18+ hours, some that arrived very late into Belize City – but they all had 2 connections.  In fact, only one itinerary had 1 connection & it landed in Belize around 9:00.  That was our golden ticket.  Certain we would be booked onto this flight, we bid 50% off the listed price.

Denied. 

No drama. We upped the price by $50 USD.  Denied.  The better part of my New Year’s Eve was spent receiving the same dismal response.  When our bid was only $50 lower than the listed price, we thought there must have been something wonky about flying out of Akron-Canton.  Back at the drawing board, there was a similar scenario from Columbus, Ohio (meaning we could only be booked onto one flight with great times due to Priceline.com’s terms).  Though much further away, if we saved even $100 per person the drive would be worth it.  So, we bid on flights that departed from CMH.

Denied.

On the same merry-go-round, I could not determine why no bids were being accepted.  In the end, I blasted Priceline’s Name Your Own Price feature on Facebook, was so irate I wanted to punch someone, and had no tickets.  The challenge became a battle of wills, and I refused to let a website thwart my vacation!  It was time to get creative.
The next day I cross-referenced flying into nearby airports (in other countries) then taking a 10-hour bus ride from Cancun, Mexico.  However, the process was very sketchy. According to this helpful blog, (the only resource for bussing in the Yucatan area), every passenger is asked to pay a departure fee.  The blog notes adamantly protesting that you are “in transit”.  If the Spanish-speaking officer understands you, you may be admitted without a fee.  That’s a few hypotheticals.  Other travelers reported the corrupt border patrol confiscated passports until the hefty fee was paid.  Furthermore, the idea of traveling a deserted highway in the wee hours of the night with a bunch of other tourists seemed like a welcome mat for any bandits… a truly, plausible scenario in Central America.

Thereafter, I weighed renting a vehicle in Cancun, Mexico & driving south.  Though more expensive, a hire car would omit the bus’ stops & we needed one anyway whilst in Belize.  Yet, no rental chain (i.e. Hertz, SixT, Eurocar) would let us cross the border. Passing north [into the U.S.A.] was no problem, but south or east [into Guatemala or Belize] was considered entering Central America.  I found a local company willing to grant us passage into Belize, but their TripAdvisor reviews scared me away.
With less than a two month countdown – my boyfriend & I committed and bought our flight directly to Belize’s only international airport.  To do so, we each had to fork out another $120 in airfare, but saved ourselves hassles, time & worries in the long run. Isn't that worth more anyway?

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