|The view from our 5-day hotel room|
We awoke yesterday morning to no working toilet even when adding water. No water came out of any faucet. How would we shower? With bug spray all over me, I desperately needed a shower.
OK. We admit it. We aren’t as tough as we thought we were. After a futile effort of days of looking for a new place to live for the next 62 days, we considered taking a ship out of Belize to go anywhere.
With last minute cruise deals, we calculated the cost of cruising for the next two months. It would have been about $10,000 for both of us, staying on the same ship to avoid moving and moving, actually less than we had expected. But, the prospect of putting out that amount of money made us both cringe.
Yes, the $5000 monthly average for planning this cruise option was within our budget with all meals and “transportation” included but we’d have to pay for “extras” including beverages and Internet which, for that amount of time would easily total another $3000, making it out of the ballpark.
|View of the resort restaurant from our 5-day hotel room|
A few nights ago while sitting at our computers until after midnight, hot air swirling around the one-room little house from multiple fans, windows shut to keep out the bugs, we desperately tried to figure out an affordable solution. Bug bitten, exhausted, feeling dirty with no hot water we started making no sense and finally went to bed.
For the first time ever in our almost 22 year relationship, we were snappy at each other. I felt responsible since I’d booked this location. Had I known about the water situation, of course, I’d never have booked it. It wasn’t unreasonable for Tom to begin to question if this was going to be the quality of our lives over the next few years.
Anxiously, I reviewed all of our future properties we’ve rented, questioning if I was picky enough when booking them. They all seemed good. This was a fluke, not my fault. Of course, I wouldn’t book a house that was comparable to living in a tent with a bed.
After contacting literally every affordable property within 100 miles with no luck finally deciding against the cruise option, we had no choice but to drive around in the golf cart looking for “for rent” or “vacancy” signs.
We’d put down a deposit of $100 on an adorable rustic resort in Placencia Village, Captain Jak’s but they didn’t have an opening until February 20, ironically the day of my 65th birthday. Although not on the water, we’d have no ocean view and no AC. The owners were wonderful, giving us a fair price and doing everything they could to accommodate us.
The idea of leaving our former lives and loved ones behind was to be traveling with ease, not strife. We needed a hotel room if nothing else until the 20th but we didn’t want to move twice. It was hard to think clearly in our circumstances.
Driving around in the golf cart along the highway, crazy traffic whizzing past us, we drove into a few resorts. Entering into a resort on a long winding road with exquisite landscaping with flowering trees, walking paths, and even its own miniature golf course, we stumbled upon Laru Beya, a corporate-owned resort of villas, hotel rooms, restaurant, pool, and activities. This was going to be out of our league.
Had we planned a vacation in the past, this easily would have been ideal for us for a one or two weeks, hardly affordable for over two months. Standing at the desk, we tentatively asked if they could accommodate us and if so, the cost. Again, we cringed deciding to see what they had available “for the fun of it,” we said.
|By 3:00 PM yesterday we were lounging in these chaise lounges, relieved and happy.|
A delightful hostess, Veranish (spelling?) showed us two identical villas, one the main floor, another on the third, both within 30 feet of the Caribbean Sea with enormous private furnished patios overlooking a sandy beach which was virtually a paradise. We were smitten.
Again tentatively, we ended up at the desk “trying to make a deal.” No dealing here. Take it or leave it. The main floor villa wouldn’t be available until February 10th. Could we take five more days without water? The rent per month would be $2500. I’d negotiated them down from $5000 a month. They’d need the entire two months in advance to secure our possession from February 10th to April 9th.
I wanted to commit, then and there as I scratched my dirty feeling legs. Tom wanted to discuss it overnight. We left. The drive in the golf cart back to the little house was silent. Along the ride, Tom relented, with conditions: no eating out, including Valentine’s Day, my upcoming 65th birthday, and on our anniversary, March 7th.
Not responding immediately, I began to weigh the pros and cons. The grocery stores were sparse of protein sources, I desperately needed to eat. Unable to buy any raw vegetables, eat any salads, it’s difficult to cook anything except breakfast.
Swatting the bugs, I reviewed our grocery expenditure since we’d arrived, a mere seven days ago. We’d already spent $325 US at the grocery store and eaten out once (we never made it to the Bistro) at Robert’s Grove for $87 for a total of $412, averaging at $58.86 per day for food. Pointing this out to Tom, he didn’t budge on his conditions. “OK,” I said, “Let’s take the villa at Laru Beya for the 10th. Somehow we’d get through for six more nights.
Using Skype to make the toll free call to Tim, the manager at Laru Beya, we told him we’d take the villa on the 10th. I offered to pay over the phone, but he insisted we could stop over in the morning to take care of business. We weren’t relaxed yet. What if someone booked it online overnight and it wasn’t available in the morning?
Tired and stressed we decided against the long ride to the Bistro for dinner, when now the prospect of spending another $80 for dinner felt especially uncomfortable. With another narrow package of the grass-fed ground steak in the tiny fridge, again, I made the bun-less sliders with bacon and cheese with a side of canned spinach and cooked carrots. Actually, it tasted pretty good.
Talking to each other again, we went to bed with a sense of uncertainty, both of us so much wanting this to work out. During the night, the owner’s dog started barking, unusual for this otherwise quiet dog. The owner’s outdoor lights suddenly flashed on as Tom bolted out of bed peeking out the windows. She had warned us about possible crime in the area during the night telling us to leave the outdoor lights on all night.
At night, we turned off the lights so we could open the windows before going to bed to get some relief from the heat. If the outdoor lights were on, we found, it attracted the bugs. Oh, please.
Tom bolted out of bed another few times when the dog barked again. He left on the outdoor light. My heart racing expecting some terrifying event, I hid under the covers trying to keep the mosquitoes and no-see-ums from biting.
If I’d been the crying type which I’m not, I could have cried then but, what was the point? Men seem to feel helpless when women cry often acting unsympathetic and angry when they “can’t fix it.” I didn’t see any benefit to making my loving attentive husband feel any more frustrated than he already was.
Exhausted, we fell back to sleep. At 9:00 am I awakened Tom, reminding him that Tim said he’d be in the office at 9:30. A short time later we were standing in the office of Laru Beya ready to pay our $5000 by credit card. Handing Tim a card on which we had ample “room” we began to relax.
Oh, good grief! Our credit card was declined! How could that be? I’d verified it, that very morning when Tom was sleeping. I asked Tim to run it again for a smaller amount. He said “I did and it still wouldn’t go through.”
He handed me the phone. Making an expensive long-distance call on their phone, on hold for no less than five minutes, I finally got through to a rep who was apologizing profusely for “the inconvenience.” They’d blocked the card when the $5000 charge came in the first time, assuming it was a stolen card. That explains why the smaller amount didn’t go through.
I explained, “I’d called all of our cards while in the US with the dates we’d be in various countries to avoid this exact scenario.”
Again she apologized, explaining that this large of a charge warranted a call from us for our protection. She approved the transaction and minutes later we signed the charge slip. I couldn’t do it fast enough.
Tom asked Tim, “Do you have anywhere we could stay beginning today?” I held my breath awaiting Tim’s answer.
“Let me look,” he said. Minutes went by, again, my heart pounding as Tim investigated the options. “We have one room for $250 a night room we can give you for $182 a night with tax included.” (He’d included the tax in the two month’s $5000).
“Yes!” we both said, “we’ll take it! Can someone come to help us get our stuff soon?” Tom asked since it all wouldn’t fit on the golf cart.
“Yes,” Tim stated with certainty, “Of course, we’ll do that. We have a van. How’s 1:30?”
We hurriedly returned to the little house madly packing everything in sight. That early morning I had managed to eek out a load of laundry when water ran for a short period. It was still wet on the line. Hopefully, by 1:30 it would be dry. In a matter of an hour, we’d packed everything. When we moved in seven days ago, we had unpacked only enough clothes to get through a week, making the repacking easier.
Arriving back at Laru Beya by 2:00 pm anxious to unload our stuff, me in the van with Tim, Tom puttering behind in the golf cart (which we have to return by Friday), we realized that in our enthusiasm, we’d failed to ask what were we getting for the five nights? As a beautiful resort, we mindlessly assumed it would be suitable.
Maybe we didn’t ask on purpose, both knowing if they so much as gave us a closet it would be better than from whence we came. Alas, it was a nicely appointed, but, a small hotel room with a huge bath with running hot water, air conditioning, free Wifi, cable flat-screen TV, and no kitchen. The tiny fridge had no freezer to store the packages of sausage for the yet to be made pizza but instead a basic hotel room refrigerator. We’d make do. If the sausage spoils, it spoils.
We loaded the remainder of our perishable items after two sturdy helpers (along with us) hauled all of our luggage up three flights of stairs to our new digs for the next five days when, on Sunday, the helper returns to move us to the first-floor villa.
Rather than count the days until Sunday, we decided to love every single moment in our hotel room. Tom wimped out (his word, not mine) since now we have to eat out. No kitchen for five days. We putted over to Robert Grove’s in the golf cart for another outdoor restaurant last night across the highway for their Tuesday night Mexican buffet.
We couldn’t stop smiling, apologizing for our irritability these past few days. Tom said, “If we had started out here at Laru Beya, we would have said Belize is pure Paradise. We must come back here in the future!”