Nearly BUS-ted

Jemima and I arrived at the Miami airport hotel in the evening, knackered from our long flight and relieved to have made it in one piece. Despite several requests to the contrary, Jemima’s bag had been put in to go all the way to Belize so she was a little bit low on supplies, but that didn’t stop us from sharing the mini bottle of sparkling wine that I had taken on the flight (God bless British Airway) and toasting our safe arrival, looking out over the gorgeous views of the rubble-littered roof of the hotel. However we soon succumbed to sleep and agreed to meet for an early breakfast before our flight on to Belize.

Our continental breakfast was included in the price of staying so we ventured down at 6am to grab something before we left. The options were slightly terrifying and very American, including a display of Krispy Kremes, scrambled eggs that looked like they hadn’t been fully rehydrated and a tap that dispensed waffle batter. I managed to track down some slightly more normal looking breakfast, which I ate out of a polystyrene bowl using a plastic spoon. Our airport shuttle was at 7am but our flight wasn’t until 10:30am so we killed time in the airport sitting on a rather peculiar row of rocking chairs and chatting in a sort of travel-induced delirium. Our flight was delayed so we must have sat there for a few hours, enjoying the WiFi while we had it. When we did eventually get on the plane we parted ways and buckled in for the flight.

The delay meant that when we landed we suddenly didn’t have as much time to get to our bus as we thought we did. This was not ideal as the buses ran at 12:15pm, 2:15pm (which we had been advised not to go for as it often didn’t run) and 4:15pm. Neither of us particularly fancied the idea of sitting in Belize’s bus station for four hours so we pressed on as quickly as we could. The queues at Belize City Airport were not exactly fast-moving, as you might be able to imagine, and so we just had to wait and see how things would pan out. Once getting through immigration we grabbed our bags, which had thankfully arrived while we had been waiting, and found a cab to take us to the bus station. I consulted a woman at a kiosk for the official airport taxi service how long she thought it would take to get there.

“About fifteen minutes?” She estimated. I glanced at my watch. It was 12pm. Not ideal but if we left then we might be able to make it. She quickly ushered us outside into one of the taxis and we were on our way.

“Do you think we’ll make our bus at 12:15?” I asked our driver as we set off.

“I don’t know,” he replied, “This is the lunch time so there is often traffic,” Jemima and I exchanged a glance. We’d just have to hope the bus was running later than we were, a hope that I didn’t think was too unrealistic. It got to 12:10pm and I was getting a bit fidgety.

“Are we nearly there?” I leant forward to ask. He paused and looked at me in the rear-view mirror.

“We are closer than we were,” he said, doing nothing to calm our jangling nerves. ‘What a relief’ I thought ‘I was so worried we were driving in the opposite direction to the bus station’.

“Maybe just over halfway,” he added with a decisive nod. My heart sank, we would never make the bus if it was running to time. A couple of minutes later our driver indicated at something on the other side of the road.

“Your bus looks like that one,” he said. And then a moment later, “Oh no that is your bus,”

We were approaching a roundabout and our driver didn’t even take the time to go all the way around, he just U-turned straight onto the other road and started to chase down our bus. Jemima and I shared a look that was kind of part confusion, part delight. Maybe the driver would let us on anyway. About a minute later we had pulled up next to the bus and our driver started honking his horn, winding down the front passenger window as he did.

“I have two Americans for you. They want to go to Sarteneja,” Our driver shouted through the open window. The bus driver nodded and to our relief, pulled over on the side of the road to let us on.

“Oh my God that was so lucky,” Jemima muttered to me as we heaved our bags out of the taxi and onto the bus.

“I know right,” I replied under my breath. We pressed the money into our taxi driver’s hand and thanked him profusely for getting us onto our bus before boarding. Jemima and I sat near the back, on an empty bench (one of the cushioned ones like in school buses in American high school movies) and spent the next ten minutes or so in a state of slight shock. We had made it. The bus conductor came and asked us to pay for our tickets, which incidentally cost less than the share we had each paid for our ten minute taxi ride, and we settled in for our journey. In four hours we’d be in Sarteneja.

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