Belize Wedding Day 1: Gathering

In two days I’m getting married. It still feels surreal at this point, not in that I’m nervous or anything, I’m making the best decision of my life, but just the idea of being married, and it suddenly feeling not so long ago that Jenn and I were just going on our first date. The whole getting married process brings all these memories to the front making them feel so recent. That was 3 years ago though, and we’ve been through so many highs and lows and we’ve always tackled the highs with a smile, and the lows as a team.

Today we’re flying to Belize. We have a redeye flight out of LAX with a few of our guests. I’m not one to waste vacation time so I’ve just worked a full days hours at work, met Jenn and her mother at home, packed up the car and headed to the airport. I really wanted dinner first, but the dress is soo big we don’t want to fuss, just get on the road. Pam deems this the “Journey of the Dress”

Check-in moves slowly but we have tons of time. At our terminal we have some dinner at the new Kogi truck in LAX’s terminal 4. Our last bite of LA for a bit! Jose, Lisa, Shel, and Sara eventually join us and we chat away the time until the flight.

Our first flight was 5hrs, barely enough time for sleep, and the seats are the most uncomfortable I’ve ever felt on a plane. I’m really not caring for American Airlines at this point. They’re too upright, and have bolster high on the shoulders pushing you even further forward with no lumbar support. They also recline to what feels like vertical from slightly forward of vertical. I get maybe 30 minutes of quality sleep just from sheer exhaustion.

It’s worth noting I’m also just getting over a cold at this point. Today is the first day without a sore throat, but I’m incredibly congested. I really want to kill this cold before the wedding, but with this little sleep I’m really worried. Miraculously the dry air seems to do wonders and at times I’m completely clear headed!

After a layover in Miami where we added Amy, Jenn’s Father Chuck, Sister Alyssa and her boyfriend Nick, we’re off again, this time for Belize!

It’s fun to see everyone’s faces as we get off the plane. Some have done some traveling, others lots of traveling, but everyone is excited. I was feeling so impatient in Belize Customs knowing that we had friends already on the other side waiting on us. That plus the weight of Jenn’s dress in my arms made me want to get through and on our way.

After Customs we find Steven, Robyn, and Shintaro none of whom have met one another but were all waiting for us to arrive. Shintaro wanting to fly home as early as possible on Monday to try to rest up before work had flown on an especially early flight with Avianca and has been waiting for a few hours by the time we’re out. We have 2 vans from Black Rock waiting for us with one of the drivers being Diego the Stalleys met last year doing the Crystal Caves! I popped into a BTL store to buy a sim card and off we go. The card is supposed to have $10bz on it which should be plenty for this trip and allow me to call hotels and what not as needed. While we’re in the car I swap it out and have service!

We have a lot of time until dinner and everyone is hungry so on our way we drop in at a place called Amigo’s close to the Zoo with every intention of spending a couple of hours wandering the zoo grounds after. But lunch service is slow, and everyone is having a nice time chatting and the time drags on. Oly and Marc join us an hour later along with our bags after having just arrived from their later flight. We now have all but 2 of our group which is really nice. Some haven’t seen each other in a while, others have never met. Everyone seems to be getting on wonderfully which is encouraging, and despite the lack of sleep everyone is in great spirits.

By the time we finish lunch it’s only 45 minutes until the Zoo closes, so we head instead on to Black Rock. It’s for the best, everyone is pretty exhausted. I like to go hard on trips like this, much more than most of my friends would find reasonable. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise in the end. On the road, the other bus driven by Diego goes flying past. I’m a bit disappointed, but I’m not sure why. I don’t care when I get there so much. I thought about it for a few miles and realized I’m disappointed because I was looking forward to seeing their reaction when they see Black Rock. The drive up to the lodge, that first view of the river and the mountains, it all had such an impact on me. Not to mention the going from hot and muggy and uncomfortable bouncing along rural roads to being in the cool luxury of Black Rock. I want to share that experience, like when sharing a funny video the best part is watching reactions.

At Black Rock the faster van hadn’t arrived yet and we were all gathered into the main palapa and given sangria. Everyone was in awe of the view, the sun setting and lighting up the sheer limestone cliff above and across a roaring set of rapids. We had just enough time to shower and maybe take a short nap before dinner. We were told about the lodge and how it’s run. About the planning, and how excited they were to have us. Everyone kept coming up to me and going “Colin! So good to see you again” since they’d seen a picture Luis had given them of me and Jenn. It was quite the welcome and everyone seemed nearly overwhelmed. Then the second van arrived and I got to watch their reactions too. Keys were handed out and everyone retired to their rooms.

Dinner as always was amazing, the best meal yet. Locally sourced grass fed Brahma-Angus filet minion wrapped in bacon. So delicious. Everyone was raving about the food. And their rooms.

We got everyone arranged on various activities for the morning of the wedding, some were going horseback riding to Xunantunich, others just by van. Some were going river tubing, or hiking at the resort. We were asked to get out from under their feet and gladly took the opportunity to go to Xunantunich. I had wanted to see the ruins since the first time I started planning a trip to Belize some 5 years ago, and was disappointed to have missed it last year.

Tired, full and content we took our leave and headed back to our gorgeous waterfall suite which I had remembered the number of from our previous trip. It’s not as spacious as the rooms I put the parents in, but it’s a bit more secluded and private down by the rapids while being very nicely appointed. I couldn’t be happier. Cabin 15 is the best one as far as I’m concerned at Black Rock. The staff had covered the room in fresh flowers and written out welcome in little bits of leaf and flower petals. The staff went to such extreme lengths.

I don’t really remember falling asleep other than Jenn asking me if I’d put my Jawbone Up into sleep mode or not.

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