Flying to Belize on Monday …with a little ‘maybe’ in the mix

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That's me on the left and Rose in red, living the Belizean expat dream ... or, to quote Jimmy Buffett: Down to the Banana Republics / Down to the tropical sun / Go the expatriated Americans  Hopin' to find some fun. "
That’s me on the left and Rose in red, living the Belizean expat dream … or, to quote our patron saint, Jimmy Buffett: “Down to the Banana Republics / Down to the tropical sun / Go the expatriated Americans / Hopin’ to find some fun. ” (See whole lyrics below.)

Game on. Game on. Game on.

It is really happening. On Monday at 5:55 a.m. we fly to Belize from San Francisco.

Well, there is one little “maybe” in that.

We’re flying standby which is a bit adventurous in that we may or may not be facing a plane full of people eager to make their way to Dallas at 6 a.m. As of today, there are 30 seats open and not a whole lot of clamoring to fill them.

So far.

The key phrase in this scenario is “You never know.” So we are prepared with lots of reading material, an extra change of clothes, WiFi access and a very positive outlook. Plus a deck of cards and a harmonica — which I have no idea how to play.

Hey, maybe we can make a commercial like the one for the car with incredible gas mileage, in which two gringos take language tapes on a road trip, and by the time they make their first stop for fuel they speak flawless Spanish. In my commercial, by the time we reach San Pedro Town I have become the finest blues harmonica player on the island and am in big demand as a guest performer with all the local bar bands. But who or what would the commercial be for? Certainly not an airline … 

Anyway, we have a secret weapon — we have an angel in the sky, our friend Julie who will be monitoring flights and maybe move us to something else if Plan A runs amiss. Julie is essentially holding our hands through this process from San Francisco to Dallas (or Miami) and then on to Belize.

What is great about traveling this way – not great, more like essential – is that we don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time. So what if we arrive in Belize a day or two later than planned. What will happen?

The answer to that is: Nothing.

And, wow, is that a weird feeling.

The For rent sign is planted in front of the house. The full moon is up and there is an eerie stillness in the warm winter air. Something feels like it is about to happen ...
The For Rent sign is planted in front of our house. The full moon is up and there is an eerie stillness in the warm evening air. Something feels like it is about to happen …

I can remember fretting the whole way from San Diego to JFK because I absolutely, positively, had to be at The Plaza Hotel no later than 5:30 p.m. in order to make it to some movie premiere. I am a master fretter, one of those people who thinks “Why be on time when you can be two hours early?” I did not follow the passage of time so much as agonize over the approach of a deadline, any deadline, every deadline. I obsessed over the dead part of deadline, as in “I’m dead if I don’t cross that line on time.”

All my fretting failed to stop plane delays, rain, rush hour traffic jams and cabbies who didn’t have the slightest idea how to get to the Plaza in New York City. (Only once did all the delays work in my favor as I was able to hitch a ride with Annie Potts in her limo and we both ended up wandering around lost in a parking garage with Bill Murray.)

So, the trip to our new home in Belize will be my first lesson in letting go.

Agenda-free travel is a whole new experience for me.

I suspect I will get to like it. I think the uncertainty and accompanying lack of consequences will be a good beginning for our future life in Belize — where I don’t plan on doing anything or being anywhere that I don’t have to. Of course, I don’t plan on leading a life of disheveled abandonment. I plan to be quite active, engaged and social, But the future is ours to design – and ours alone. From the moment we settle in, what we make of our time in Belize will be up to us.

I’m sure the past three weeks of disassembling an entire household and two American lives in preparation for this move is what has me talking like this.

Man, becoming an expat is brutally hard work … and emotionally painful.

But we turned a major corner today. The last two big-ticket items went out the door – the California king size Sleep Number bed that I slashed with a razor knife while trying to fix a tiny leak and the gorgeous Murphy bed that I destroyed through sheer stupidity.

Hey, are you detecting a pattern here, too?

They went quickly, through the magic of a key Craigslist category. It is called “Free Stuff.” Your phone starts lighting up like a Jerry Lewis telethon, the instant you post an ad.

So, like that, they were gone. That left mostly just the stuff we are carrying to Belize, which has grown from three bags to four. We didn’t add anything. We simply redistributed the load to meet baggage restrictions.

So for whatever reason, both Rose and I enjoyed an entire day of carefree preparation. Because, at this point, if two seats opened on a flight tomorrow, we could be there, baby. In a heartbeat. Or not. We’re suddenly that flexible.

But, yeah, we are that ready.

Seriously, neither of us minds that we’ll be spending the next few nights in fabulous San Francisco with some great friends. So what if we’re living out of small “reserve” suitcases and wearing winter clothing doomed to be jettisoned as we make our way to the airport.

Oh Belize, we are so ready. I hope there is a hotel room somewhere in San Pedro Town ready for us.

Whenever the heck it is that we get there ….

—————————————————————-

Bonus feature: Our friend Craig played Jimmy Buffett’s  “Banana Republics” for us at a going away dinner last week.  A great song with a lot of truth, a little of which probably touches every expat.

Here are the lyrics:

Down to the Banana Republics
Down to the tropical sun
Go the expatriated American
Hopin’ to find some fun

Some of them go for the sailing
Brought by the lure of the sea
Tryin’ to find what is ailing
Living in the land of the free
Some of them are running to lovers
Leaving no forward address
Some of them are running tons of ganja
Some are running from the IRS

Late at night you will find them
In the cheap hotels and bars
Hustling the senioritas
While they dance beneath the stars
Spending those renegade pesos
on a bottle of rum and a lime
Singin’ give me some words I can dance to
Or a melody that rhymes

First you learn the native custom
Soon a word of Spanish or two
You know that you cannot trust them
Cause they know they can’t trust you

Expatriated American feelin’ so all alone
Telling themselves the same lies
that they told themselves back home

Down to the Banana Republics
Things aren’t as warm as they seem
None of the natives are buying
any second hand American dreams

Late at night you will find them
In the cheap hotels and bars
Hustling the senioritas
while they dance beneath the stars
Spending those renegade pesos
On a bottle of rum and a lime
Singing give me some words I can dance to
Or a melody that rhymes

Down to the Banana Republics
Down to the tropical sun
Go the expatriated Americans
Hopin’ to find some fun

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14 thoughts on “Flying to Belize on Monday …with a little ‘maybe’ in the mix

    Karen Kelly said:
    February 14, 2014 at 4:52 am

    I can not wait to hear that first song on the harmonica. Really? A harmonica? How awesome is that! Safe journey.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      February 14, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      Hope I have the right key (C) for the blues ….At least it is portable. Imagine if I’d found a tuba ….
      We miss you, Karen. Rose sends her love as always!
      Bob

      Like

    Miranda said:
    February 14, 2014 at 9:57 am

    I LOVE that commercial!
    I’ll be there in four weeks, myself. We will have to meet up.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      February 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      Great! Yes, let’s meet up. We’ll see you then!

      Like

    Leeah said:
    February 14, 2014 at 10:00 am

    that commercial idea sounds fun! lol you should definitely try! from before hand…welcome to BZE! 🙂

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      February 14, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks Leeah! But what should it be a commercial for!

      Like

    lifeagain said:
    February 14, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Nothing short of beautiful…….i wish you two a whole lot of adventure…………and yes i plan on being there….kinda…..as long as you keep writing in your special vivid way.

    viv·id adjective \ˈvi-vəd\
    of a picture, memory, etc. : seeming like real life because it is very clear, bright, or detailed
    : very bright in color

    The best to you and Rose from your friend
    Don

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      February 14, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks Don. I really appreciate your kind words.
      Keep me posted on your own adventures and I’ll keep updating ours.
      Bob

      Like

    Susan Moore said:
    February 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I am so excited for you two! Hope you are on the plane or even in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport! I will faithfully be following your blog…and hopefully following in your footsteps in the not too distant future!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      February 14, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      Hi Susan,
      We’re set to take off Monday at 5:55 a.m. Absolutely can’t wait. Keep us posted on your progress.
      Regards,
      Bob

      Like

    Kathy Chavis said:
    February 15, 2014 at 10:58 am

    The best to both of you and your new adventures in San Pedro. We will visit in June for 1st time. Hope San Pedro is a “fit” for us to retire in 2018. Have enjoyed following your blog. Will also be selling lock, stock and barrel. Only shipping what we can via airlines. What type of mail service did you go with? Good luck!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      February 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for the message.
      We have contracted with Mailbox Etc. in San Pedro. They have a PO box and street address in Miami and once a week they forward mail to San Pedro. This gives us a US address which will be important. I must add that so far this is untested but the people who operate it seem nice and reliable. I’ll update as we gain experience. AAny long time San Pedrians care to add your experiences?
      See you in June!
      Bob

      Like

    Helen Armstrong said:
    February 16, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Bob,
    We are staying in an apt right across from John an Rose(have not met them) for the month of Feb. The rent is reasonable and don’t know availability but if you want to meet at fence we will show you around and let you know who property manager is. It is a one bedroom fully equipped and fairly new.
    Enjoy your blog,
    Helen

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      February 16, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Helen,
      You’ll like John and Rose, great people.
      We’d love to check out the apartments! Thanks!

      Like

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