Thursday, May 8, 2014

Challenges and Assorted Complications

Excuse my absence on my blog, my computer ran into some significant complications on our trip, which was a complete bummer. For whatever reason, it wouldn't boot up, so I couldn't really use it for the past several days. I just fixed it yesterday and am playing catchup while also trying to resume life in beautiful New England. I have to say, as I always say after a trip, it sure feels good to be home.

Now for whatever reason, our return home was filled with complications, and my first inclination is to use the term disaster, but that would be making mountains out of molehills, and in the end, it wasn't the end of the world. Then again, I'm good at adding drama to my life. Just ask my family.

We ran into a series of missteps and problems on the final leg of our trip, and it sure adds to the drama of the adventure. The first problem, and in my eyes this was a biggie, was when we hit the mainland and moved our operation near San Ignacion, where my computer died. I can't really explain what happened, but on our first morning there, I booted up my laptop and did some writing, and then it froze. I couldn't believe it. Since we were in a foreign country, there were no resources to fix it, so all I could do was turn it on and off a few times and then just shut it down for the duration. What a bummer, we still had a few days in Belize, and then the trip home. Plus, this is my computer we're talking about, my source of strength.

If there was a bright note to this development, it was that I didn't have to stress over finding the time and place to write or blog, which is never easy when your family is staying in one room. The big downer, however, was that the kids couldn't watch movies at night or on the flight home. That was on Sunday morning, and that is why I've been so quiet on this blog.

On our final two days, we had to drive from San Ignacion, which is near the border of Guatemala, back to Belize City, and it's about a 2 hour drive. I knew we needed to get gas, but it was a long trip, and we all figured there would be a gas station at some point. It turned out that this was bad planning, and at some point well before we landed in Belize City we were running on fumes. The low gas light came on, and all we could see for miles around were banana fields. We finally found gas near our final destination, and I couldn't believe how expensive it was. The sticker shock, however, we tempered by our profound relief at having found gas.

The flight home was fine, a little rough near the end, not to mention a rough landing, and then we headed home. The plan was originally to spend the night in Boston, but in an effort to save money (what else is new?), we decided to drive home. This was not so unreasonable if we had landed on schedule, around 9:00PM. Figure 30-45 minutes to get our bags and car, then two hours on the road and we'd be home. Of course, the flight was delayed, and we landed around 10:00PM. This meant an estimated 1:00AM home arrival, but of course, that was overly optimistic because of my pea-sized brain.

We did the park-and-ride at the Holiday Inn Express in South Boston, which for the record is a good deal, and the hotel is nice. Not as stellar as Embassy Suites, but a fraction of the cost. When you arrive back home, you simply call them and their shuttle will pick you up to get your car. It works beautifully, and you avoid the shameless scam of long-term parking. What we didn't know is that there are two Holiday Inn Express Hotels in Boston. When the Holiday Inn Shuttle arrived, we piled in and took off, but something wasn't quite right. First, I recall the shuttle had the name of two hotels on it because they are right next to each other and share a van. This one had only one name. The driver did not speak a word of English, he was Russian or something like that, so we couldn't ask him any questions. He did inquire if we wanted the Saugus Holiday Inn, and of course we had no clue. How the heck were we supposed to know what town the hotel was in.

As we were sitting there, the bus had to make a couple more stops, and I kept telling the kids to see if the other hotel's name was on the van, but we were crammed in the back, and we couldn't ask the driver. Finally I got my phone out and hit redial, and asked the woman at the front desk if they were in Saugus, and she said no, they were in South Boston. We were on the wrong damn shuttle. We lucked out because we were still at the airport, so we grabbed our bags and jumped out. We called our hotel back and explained the situation, and she said no problem, their driver would get us at our new location. We later learned that Saugus was completely on the other side of town. Wow, talk about drama.

We got to South Boston, picked up our car, and headed north, thinking we were home free, but my stupidity caught up with us. You'd think I would have learned by then, especially since we had a near miss in Belize. We had a little less than half a tank of gas in our car, which I figured would be more than enough to get home, and we could fill up en route. This was a bad plan. We hit Manchester and were down to less than a quarter tank, and we got off the highway to find gas. There was a 24hr gas station advertised on the highway, but you learn up here that it could be miles from the highway, and after a mile or two, I was fed up and turned around, figuring we'd find something before we hit home. This was stupid move #27, but more on that later.

At some point the low gas light went on, and we had a ways to go. We got off on in New London, exit 11, and had to get to exit 16 to find gas. I was sure we could make it, but what if we didn't? It would have been too much to run out of gas on the highway, at that hour. We were in a nice town, and looked for either a gas station of motel. We found both, and neither was open. That's life in rural New England. The gas stations take credit cards, but they shut their pumps down at night, so we couldn't get gas. We pulled into a motel and were ready to spend the night in the car, when we realized we could call AAA. It was about 12:30AM at this point, and to their credit, the kids were being absolute troopers.

AAA sent a car to help us, but he ran into the same problem as us. He couldn't find a gas station to get gas, so he had to head all the way over to Newport. He called to inform us of this, and I told him not to worry, we were going to sleep in the car and get gas first thing in the morning, which we figured would be around 6:00AM. He said it was no problem to get the gas, so I said fine, and at about 1:00AM, he showed up. He only had about 2 gallons, which meant stopping one last time to fill up, which we did at exit 16. I'm sure we could have made it.

We got home about 3:00AM, and the house was freezing. On a bright note, I think the cats were happy to see us. I know I was happy to be home. We went straight to be, and I apologized to everyone for being such a bonehead.

Boy, life sure is an adventure, isn't it? Even though our return trip was rough, we had a great time in Belize, so I'll try to focus on the positives.

Yeah, right. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Steve Richard for the pic. 

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