A getaway is so much better if it’s somewhat challenging to reach. The Brawny Sherpa and I wake up in the middle of the night to get to JFK in time for our flight to Miami only to be delayed because our plane is experiencing mechanical difficulties. We wait, we fret, we’ve got to get there. Reaching Miami, we wait once more. A dead animal is on board. We think it must mean a mouse or a rat, nothing bigger, nothing scary. We wait. We don’t fret so much now. We’re almost, almost there. If we’re stuck in Miami for a while, it won’t be the worst.
We arrive in hot, humid Belize City, where we are to switch from American Airlines to Tropic Air. But first we must wait for the flight that eventually will land us in Punta Gorda. We check, several times, with attendants at the airport. Where is the plane? We will let you know, we are told. We wait. We don’t fret. We’re so close. We stop drinking coffee and start drinking beer.
We can’t even stand up straight in the little 12-seat propeller plane we board. This small plane will take us up and down, lifting and taking off from short runways right on the water, as we stop first in Dangriga to let off a few passengers and to let on a new mother who gave birth that day to her baby. I offer to hold her baby while she struggles to get into her seat in the low-ceilinged plane. We fly up again, taking pictures of the water, the jungle, the mountains, the smoke. At Placencia, I carry the baby to meet her relatives while her mother trails me, still stunned from all that she’s been through today.
We take off again. There’s more to our wonder: jungle, sea, jungle, sea. Where are all the people? Where are the roads?
There aren’t many people. There aren’t many roads.
We finally land at a little trailer of an airport in Punta Gorda. We wait, use the single bathroom, wonder how we’ll get where we’re going, even though we know they know to pick us up, they know we are coming.
We’re not on New York schedules any more. The air is hot, we’re tired. A driver from the Cotton Tree Lodge arrives to transport us. I don’t notice much now that we are almost there. Moving from paved roads to dirt ones, we see that these roads aren’t raked, not smoothed like the ones fronting the horse farms back home. We bounce. We seek. Where is this place?
Finally, not long before dinner on this one long day, we’ve arrived in the jungle.