Mobetah in St. Pete Beach Florida just prior to leaving for the Northwestern Caribbean

Mobetah in St. Pete Beach Florida just prior to leaving for the Northwestern Caribbean

About Us

Until his retirement, Bill Was a Landscape Architect for the National Park Service and Pat was a Physical Therapist.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Leaving Belize and Dealing with Bureaucracy

We decided to check out of Belize bright and early on the morning of April 14th. We got up early, took the dingy into the Paradise Resort, then walked down to the Hokie Pokie water taxi docks. We had planned to take the 7:30 am ferry to the small town of Independence, located on the other side of the lagoon. We bought our ticket and boarded the boat (Launcha). At 7:15 the boat was full of passengers, so they left the dock, and we were on our way to Independence. We have no idea how the people who arrived only 10 minutes before the scheduled departure made it to Independence. Having left Placencia early, we arrived in Independence early, so we decided to walk the 1/2 mile or so to the immigration office, since they were probably not open that early anyway. Our favorite taxi driver, Nelson, was at the Hokie Pokie docks when we arrived, so we told him we would need a ride out to Big Creek (about 5 miles away, where the customs office is located) once we finished at the immigration office. He said, "No Problem" and gave us a card with his phone number.

We arrived at immigration about 7:50 am., for their 8:00 am opening. At about 8:20, the immigrations girl and guy showed up at their office. 10 minutes later, we were ready to head out to Big Creek and meet with the customs man.

We called Nelson, and he soon showed up with a very attractive young lady in the front seat with him. Off we went to Big Creek and the customs office. In conversation, we asked if the young lady was his wife. The answer: "Oh, heavens no" She was a customer that had to stop by the bank on her way to work at the cell phone company. Since the bank was not opened yet, she was just riding along until the bank opened.

We arrived at customs and were informed that we would need to fill out a form and take it to the Port Captain for his signature and stamp (and pay him $90.00 Belize) before returning to the the customs office for a zarpe (exit paper). When we asked where the Port Captain's office was, we were told the cab driver would know where to find him.

Nelson assured us that we would meet the Port Captain between Big Creek and Placencia. We were not sure if that meant that his office, or his house, etc. was somewhere between Big Creek and Independence, but the four of us (Nelson , the attractive young customer, Pat & I) took off up the road back toward Independence. Suddenly, Nelson viered off to the side of the road. When we looked up, we saw a rather large, jolly old fellow, in a white uniform riding a bicycle toward us. When the fellow arrived, he was introduced to us (in a comnbination of English & Kriole) as the Port Captain. Bill jumped out and shook his hand, then the Port Captain pulled a leather case out of his bicycle basket, and they (Bill & the Port Captain) soon had papers, stamps, stamp pads, receipt books, etc. scattered all over the hood on Nelson's taxi. After signing and stamping the papers, as well as the payment of the $90.00 Belize, The Port Captain put his stuff back in the bicycle basket, shook Bill's hand again, and peddled off toward the port at Big Creek.

At this point, we were ready to go back to the Customs office and complete our business, however, by this time the bank was open and the attractive young customer was ready to get to work. So our trip would have to wait, and off we went to the bank, with only 1 stop (at the laundry/internet store) along the way. We then waited while she went into the bank and did several minutes of banking business. After that it was only a couple of blocks to the cell phone company where we said goodbye and once again headed off to Big Creek and the Customs office. When we arrived, the office was closed. Neson informed us that the customs man's truck was gone from the parking lot, and that probably meant that he was at breakfast. Nelson said not to worry, he would be back before the next Hokie Pokie Water Taxi, and he didn't mind waiting with us, since his next fare would probably be on the Hokie Pokie Water Taxi anyway. Sure enough, in a few minutes the customs man returned and gave us our zarpe (exit paper). We then returned to the Hokie Pokie Water Taxi and back to Placencia and the boat. We pulled the anchor up and headed out for our last couple of days in Belize before checking into Guatemala.