Come with me and escape

From the heat, that is. We’d been planning a shopping run to Chetumal anyway, so we decided to add an overnight at the Fiesta Inn (major selling point: rooftop swimming pool!) and crossed the Mexican border Thursday on a restorative 24-hour lark.


Corozal and Chetumal: Less than 15 miles apart and two entirely different worlds. Although I will say the traffic in both cities can be hazardous to your health, though for different reasons: Any given road in Corozal at any given moment may include pedestrian, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, car and truck traffic, any and all of which could come at you from any side at any time. In Chetumal, it’s far and away normal automotive traffic that follows mostly proscribed rules – except that one of the main rules (stop and go) is more often exercised, at best, as hesitate and go, and at worst, oh just gun it! Not for the faint of heart, either one.

Anyhow – we checked into our room, checked out the view (that’s Belize across the water in the second photo below) and headed for Wal-Mart.

fiesta inn


We did not need anything per se from Wal-Mart but I wanted a new pair of sandals, as I’ve duct-taped the ones I brought from home to the point of … well, no (I’d include a pic but they were unceremoniously left behind in the hotel trash can). So that was a score, and what else? A few foodstuffs we can’t find in Belize and a couple of other random items. Oh, yeah, and the obligatory stop at McDonald’s for a late lunch.


But the pool…ah, now THAT was needed. Also where we spent the better part of our stay.

fiesta pool 2

The rooftop also featured a Sky Bar (behind the glass in the picture below) offering Dos Equis beer on draft – which has never been a particular favorite of mine, but tasted excellent to tastebuds now dulled by drinking only Belikin beer. Plus lots of comfy seating, with plug-ups for laptops or other devices all over, and BOSE deck speakers, though they were playing what we thought was an odd choice of music (old American pop music and big band selections).


So the routine was swim, climb out and play on device (mostly me, since I was using the hotel’s web connection to download new e-magazine issues, instead of using up our gigabytes at home), and slip back in.

Here’s our Happy Faces about that.


The hotel was one of those kinda swanky ones (think ALOFT hotel in the States), though booking through the internet was pretty cheap ($85/night) and included free breakfast. Lots of interesting design elements throughout, here’s a few to give you an idea. I call this one “wall candy.”


This ceiling fixture looked cool during the day just hanging and even cooler at night when it was lit.


The pool lit up at night, too.

fiesta pool 1pool-at-night-panoramapool-at-nightIt was after dark before we finally dragged ourselves out of the water to settle in for the evening. Our room was pretty nice, too. Especially the huge fluffy pillows (one of the few actual ‘things’ I really do miss from home).

hotel roomRay was dinking around on his computer and I started to watch what appeared to be an American-made movie (at least, the two principal actors seemed vaguely familiar). We’d found the only channel that showed regular American programming (with Spanish subtitles); but for whatever reason, this movie on that channel had both spoken Spanish (badly dubbed to the video) plus seemingly redundant Spanish subtitles?

Well, okay, once I got over that little processing twist in my head, I was actually following the plot, more or less, and again attempting to understand Spanish from context (see here for a sample from my previous attempts).

Basically, the lead actress had a mental problem and the lead male was her sympathetic doctor who may or may not have been falling in love with her. At the same time, she had what seemed to be an awkward flirty kind of relationship with one of the other mental patients. All good so far…

…until the girl is eavesdropping outside of the doctor’s office and he seems to be telling another doctor that the girl is pregnant. Really?! Because I’d been watching for awhile by now, and the most either of these guys had done was make googly eyes at her, so how did THIS happen?!

Well, just watch and it would become clear, right? No. What became clear instead was that not only did she never seem to actually show, but she also did some stuff I am pretty sure no pregnant woman in her right mind (okay, granted, that wasn’t part of her make-up, but still) would do. The last straw for me was when she threw herself belly-first on top of a live lobster in a restaurant as it tried to get away underneath other diner’s legs (presumably because she didn’t understand why it was out of its tank, since that’s where she deposited it once she caught it).

Yeah. Which meant a couple of things – one, I must have misinterpreted something (I know, moi?!) and two, this already-B movie was rapidly devolving into C or maybe even D-grade plotting. Fortunately, it also ended, and Criminal Minds came on, English spoken with Spanish subtitles again. Thank God.

Except, wait, there was someone pregnant on THIS show too? What was in the broadcast water today?!

Oh, wait. I checked the subtitles and apparently “pregunta” does not mean what I thought it did (go ahead, look it up here). And this, Ray says, is why we don’t rely on my Spanish translation skills in Mexico. Yeah, whatever.

The next morning we helped ourselves to our free breakfast and went back to the roof with our devices to enjoy several wonderful hours of more pool time.  The views of the city were pretty up there.



All too soon, it was time to go home. We crossed back into Belize at 1pm Friday, exactly twenty four hours after we’d left it the day before. Yes, we were back to the dust bowl.


Aside: One of our neighbors reported on Facebook recently that the Mennonite farmers – who last year lost 70% of their crops to the heavy rainy season – this year have lost 100% of at least one crop (corn) to the heat. Can’t win for losing, huh.

Speaking of Mennonites, I gave up my seat under the shanty at the ferry crossing to this Mennonite woman and her very adorable baby.


My second conversation with a Mennonite went as follows: I stand, gesture at seat I had been occupying (the larger and more desirable tree stump); she nods and accepts. I then sit on the less desirable alternate seat, a piece of split wood. Silence. Woman says, sighing, muy caliente, si? I agree: si. Silence. I pat baby’s foot and ask “boy or girl?” Woman says – heavily accented – grrrlll. Baby stares at me like how dare you touch me? (clearly, her training starts early). I look away. Silence. We watch ferry grinding across the river in the heat. When it finally arrives on our side, we get up and head back to our respective vehicles. And that was actually progress compared to the last (and first) conversation I had with a Mennonite (here).

So – a new pair of comfy shoes, a welcome dip in a pool, and a couple of cultural adventures along the way. What more can you ask for? (Rain. I could ask for rain. But as we’ve seen, it doesn’t seem to work. Muy caliente, si?)

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2 thoughts on “Come with me and escape

  1. kevin62 says:

    Hi Jackie and Ray

    Just came across this blog through LinkedIn Canada. Your trip across the border looks fascinating and I love that roof top pool in the hotel you stayed at. Moving or short term stays in Belize has been a dream of mine for the last couple of years when I close in on early retirement. which hopefully will be in 5 years. I’m originally from England but have lived in Toronto for over 20 years. Anyway I’ve a lot of reading to do now to get through all your blog.



    • jgambill21 says:

      Hi Kevin, and cheers back at you! Glad to have you as a reader, and I hope my blog helps in some small way in your own planning for a Belize retirement. Best of luck! jackie


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