It's been a long stressful year, both emotionally and pandemic-wise. Not to dwell on the bad stuff, but to set the scene, we spent four months living at my father-in-law's house in Chicago, nursing him through a terminal illness (along with the amazing help of Hospice). After his passing in late November, we have been dealing with the maze of estate law and probate court, selling the house, and dealing with executor duties.
Three years ago, we traveled to Belize and made friends with the owner of the place we stayed. We've kept in touch over the years and Lisa also lost her father recently. She was telling us how rough it has been for her, trying to maintain her business with covid shutting down the country for tourism. Belize just reopened its airports in March, but the land borders remain closed so things are just starting to get better. During our conversations, she offered us a really good rate to come to stay with her again if we could stay for the month.
It seemed to be just what we all needed (a little stress release for us and a little financial assistance for her!) if all the obstacles of international travel could be overcome. And there have been many. A negative covid test documentation was required to get into Belize, along with an online healthcare questionnaire and extra customs forms. And of course, extra lines, temperature checks, social distancing, and mask-wearing.
When we arrived at Belize City airport we had to get transportation to the pier and take a water taxi to get to the island of San Pedro, which is about a 90 minute trip. We sat at the back of the boat, out in the fresh air and sea spray rather than being in the cramped up area in the general seating - safer and more enjoyable as well.
We arrived around 4:00 pm so we had some time to walk around a bit and see how things had changed since our last stay three years ago. There were some favorite spots that have sadly gone out of business. We walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner later on that evening and were treated to a full moon over the water.
We've been here for 10 days now and find while some things are the same, there is a lot that has changed due to the pandemic. It's been rough on so many people trying to get by, especially those places that depend on tourism. The gas prices and grocery prices are astronomical here. I don't know how these people can actually afford to live on this island. A gallon of gas is over $6 USD and in the grocery store, a bag of frozen Tyson Chicken Nuggets that would cost around $8 in the US is $18 here.
The weather is beautiful, in the 80s every day with plenty of sunshine and Caribbean breezes. One afternoon we drove to the northern edge of the island and spent some time with Lisa's friends who own the Moon Bar. There is a willingness of business owners to share their customers and generate trade for each other.
We have a few more obstacles to overcome to be able to leave the country as well. With the way the scheduling with the airline worked out we are staying 32 days. We just found out that the new travel visa rules for Belize only allow for a 30-day visa. So now we have to pay $200 extra to renew our visa since we are exceeding the 30 days. And there is the $150 covid test we have to have to get back into the USA. The same test that was free in the US, is $75 per person here. So our very reasonable vacation has incurred some expensive surprises....
While we are enjoying the weather and the scenery, I think it is going to be awhile before we venture out of the country again!
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