This is a series of posts about Belize that starts here.
Atop Victoria Peak, I went off by myself and gazed at the view.
Travel is made of moments like this. There’s all the frantic planning, the upsets when things go wrong, the annoyances of other people and disappointments in yourself. Then there are the moments where you find yourself feeling accomplished and staring at a beautiful view—and not thinking about what’s next, or being bothered by other people still blabbering away.
Serenity. Mindfulness. Presence. In the moment. Whatever you call it, it feels wonderful and I experience it much more when I’m traveling than in my “real” life.
After savoring our hiking feat and the rewarding views, we descended. Liz and Mike immediately flanked me.
“I’d like to hike alone,” I said. Whereas earlier I would have spoken through gritted teeth and my irritation might have been hurtful, now I was pleasant but firm.
Mark was behind them, giving me a bemused look.
Liz and Mike looked surprised but walked off, blabbering away loudly about nothing.
Why can’t people stand to being alone, or in silence?
I took my time walking down, since descending is harder on the knees than climbing. I have no knee problems and I’d like to keep it that way. I came across Emily, and she and I walked together for a while, not talking except to point out an occasional find, like this eight-inch high anthill.
Then I spotted a spotted moth about the size of my open hand and silently pointed it out to Emily. We watched it flit from tree to tree.
Back in Hopkins, we had a last fancy supper at a local club. The waiter patiently answered “Yes ma’am,” “No ma’am,” as Joan asked about gluten and dairy and meat and eggs and MSG.
The talk turned to what we would be happy to get home to. Smooth roads was number one. That led to talk of cars.
“I drive a Prius,” Joan said drearily. Of course you do, I thought.
“Anne drives a Mini Cooper,” Mark said enthusiastically. “It’s the smallest BMW and it’s as fuel-efficient as a Prius. They’re such cool cars.” I was so happy he had said it and not me. I am as much a snob about my car as any Prius driver. “And they’re really fun to drive!” I added.
“I smile whenever I see one,” Mark said.
You might think I hated certain people on this trip. I didn’t. They bugged me from time to time and the feeling might have been mutual. I wasn’t going to change them. All I could do was try to be aware of, and keep a lid on, my tendencies toward sanctimoniousness and speaking like a walking encyclopedia.
This is one of the tradeoffs of group travel. And for the moments of snorkeling heaven and climbing a mountain peak, it was worth it.
Our last day in Belize. As on the other mornings, I walked down to the beach to see if a yoga session had materialized. It hadn’t. I did a few forward falls and mountain poses and headed back to the lodge for coffee.
Jeanie came in and said, “Whew! What a great yoga session!”
“What? Where? I was just down on the beach and no one was there.”
“In the yoga studio,” she replied. Yoga studio? A detail she had omitted. She led me through the jungle to what was, by far, the most beautiful building at Jeanie’s (and it was minus the people in this photo).
This side trip made me the last person into the van, where I wound up in the back row between Liz and Mike. Emily, in front, turned and gave me a look that said, “Nah, nah … so happy it’s not me!” We shared a secret laugh and that helped.
Our legs were covered with bites—hundreds of them. We were also feeling the effects of the water. I won’t go into detail, but let’s say we were relieved to arrive at the airport.
My flight was first, so I yelled, “Safe travels, everyone!” and ran off with a backwards wave.