Having traveled down from the jungles of Belize, we found ourself on the water’s edge with the waves lapping outside our villa at the Turtle Inn in Placencia
This second resort moved from excursions to daily swims in the pool, snorkeling off the shore, and fishing. In fact, an iguana saw the kids having so much fun in the pool that he strolled right over to the pool’s edge, and we all assumed his going to jump in with us, but in actuality, he was marking his territory by going to the bathroom on the pool deck. (James’ trip highlight btw).
Ellie and I got a chance to go snorkeling off the beach. It was her first time snorkeling, and we were able to see brain and fan coral, a parrot fish and two incredible starfish.
Another moment captured well the personalities of the boys.
They learned how to play bocce ball; so James and Thomas set off into an intense game. James drew the line in the sand and set the course. Slowly and methodically, he strategically placed all of his shots having mastered the intricacies of the game. But at just the final moment, Thomas stepped up with his final ball and with perfect backspin lands it on top of the white ball. A perfect skill shot. To which James immediately begins screaming, “FOOT FAULT!” As an argument ensues, from the ocean sprints Jack with a bucket of water dousing the entire game…thereby encapsulating perfectly the triple chaos of our life.
One day we all hopped onto a boat for a Monkey River tour. Here we got to see a crocidile, howler monkeys, iguanas, and manatees. But the more interesting aspect was listening to our guide’s life story. This man grew up on the island at the mouth of the river.
Their small village is only accessible by boat, and they pooled together their resources to buy the land up the river to give tourists a glimpse of the jungle.
During 2008, the area was hit by a horrible hurricane that destroyed their village and eroded the vegetation and landscape. As a young 20 year old man, our tour guide made the choice to stay in order to save his boat (and his profession). But as the storm surged, and the buildings shook, he realized the folly of his decision. He talked about the older generation telling their stories of riding out hurricanes, and he always thought they were exaggerating. Youthful pride nearly put him peril.
But you could see the natural maturity of it as he continued to share. He described the impact of a new cruise port coming very close to where they live, and how the cruise ships offered them exclusive rights to their costumers if they would upgrade to 40 passenger boats from their small boats. Though enticed with “more money” and “6 thousand customers a week” the village, up to this point, has refused due to the ecological damage this cruise ship will cause.
In the end, we returned to the village for lunch, it was there that I watched his 2 1/2 year old son run from their home and jump into his father’s arms. The universal look of a child longing to see his father after a long day of work struck me.
So with our bags packed and having checked out of the hotel…I had assumed the trip had come to and end. Until I saw the plane that was going to return us to Belize City. Passing through a double wide trailer, we piled into a 13 seater plane…with Ellie in the co-pilot seat.
As the plane took off, I worked desperately on my prayer life. When the pilot unbuckled to slap a fly on Ellie’s side of the plane, I made my amends with God. And when the wheels touched down, I experienced the joy of my salvation.
And such was our trip.
What I appreciated about our boys’ first flight, and our first time out of the country as a family is that the kids did not go to an Americanized environment like Cancun or Atlantis, where consumerism was on full display. Rather they got to experience (though still from a distance) the poverty and infrastructural needs of another country.
As such, I have declared that this was not a vacation, as vacations suggest things like a break from the kids, sleeping past 5:15am, room-service, air-conditioning…this was far more than a vacation, it was a Barry Adventure.