Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Vacation snippets and omicron news

We stayed on San Pedro island off the mainland of Belize last week, a beautiful and laid-back place, where the people were, without exception, warm, helpful, and congenial. In every single interaction while we were there, we felt fully welcomed.

Getting out of New York was an adventure in itself, as our flight was delayed the first day, causing us to miss our connection in Miami. The airline rebooked us on a flight for the following day, but our bags having already been checked, flew on ahead of us, to be picked up by us once we arrived in Belize City on a different airline. Then it was onto a 14-seater to fly 13 minutes to San Pedro. That's me with some other passengers on the tiny plane above. I thought the flight would be scary, but the alternative was an hour and a half water taxi ride after traveling most of the day, and my cousins had taken the water taxi the day before we arrived, only to have it break down on the open water twice. The crew got it going again with a hammer and a screw driver, but the hour and a half ride took them three hours, so after hearing that report I booked us on the puddle jumper, figuring I could weather being scared for 13 minutes. But the plane, tiny and cramped as it was, flew steadily and calmly into San Pedro, gently kissing the ground as it landed. Definitely a good choice.

Half an hour later we ate dinner from a row of food shacks, where my husband got into a long and animated conversation with a fisherman who manned the chicken wing stand, while I turned my face into the sea breeze and tried to adjust to the fact that I had arrived. I felt disoriented, not yet fully inside myself. The place was pretty empty, even though it was reportedly at full capacity. I think guests were out doing excursions and generally social distancing.

That's my nephew on the right and the daughter of a family friend, who joined our vacation group. The two young ones were on board a catamaran snorkeling trip, when the wind whipped their hair in twin tornadoes. They're beautiful, these young people. They, and their parents, and my husband all swam on the reef, and then swam with sharks. This was the highlight of the whole trip for my man. Certainly the boat experience was calm compared to the previous day's heart-stopping adventure.

The whole group of fifteen souls dressed up and went to dinner on Friday night, to celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries we couldn't celebrate together last year, because of lock downs and quarantines. That's the man and me. We joke that his shirt says that man is on vacation!

I chilled at a table in the sandy area behind the food concession stands, soothed by the palm fronds swaying in a soft early evening breeze.

The WalkingEagle men, father and sons, were on one side of the table when we ate at Carambas in town, best seafood on the island, everyone said.

My sister-cousin, aka the WalkingEagle woman, and my man were on the other side of the table with me. The food was as advertised. 

After getting our negative covid tests on Sunday, we said goodbye to the island yesterday morning, returning to the mainland as we came, on a tiny plane with spectacular views.

And then we were back in the netherworld that is America. The change in tone on our connecting flight from Miami to New York was so marked, the captain sounding surly and threatening as he warned passengers to keep their masks on and that if they didn't do exactly as the flight attendants said, they would be thrown off the flight. 

To be fair, omicron exploded in New York City literally the day after we left. The town we have returned to has a completely different feel than six short days ago. It's like March 2020 again, perhaps worse, because now literally everyone knows multiple people who have tested positive for the super contagious variant. My son, starting today, will be living at the firehouse so as not to expose his live-in love who will be going to her parents in New Jersey for Christmas, and also because there simply aren't enough firefighters to man the houses, as so many have come down with covid. Our boy picked us up from the airport last night and told us that once he goes in to work this morning, he won't see us again until after Christmas, when he's had a chance to test again and know his status. He reflected that he fully expects to get covid at the firehouse this week, and we all expressed the hope that if he does, his symptoms will be mild, as anecdotal reports suggest omicron symptoms generally are. Everyone is praying this pattern holds.

Meanwhile our daughter, who is with us for the week, is freaking out this morning because a friend with whom she spent time last week called to say she has been exposed, and is awaiting test results. Another friend called moments later to say her partner, with whom she lives, has just tested positive. So now our daughter is off to stand in a line for hours so she can get tested, too. She is terrified she has exposed us, but I feel somewhat blase about it all. If she's positive, she'll spend Christmas with us, not a bad deal. As for us, we went to Belize, we returned with negative covid tests. What happens next is anyone's guess.


  1. Oh, those beautiful, beautiful young people and their beautiful parents, too. I'm so glad that y'all did have some lovely experiences, along with the heart-stopping, sea and stomach churning one.
    It's always a huge culture shift (and not a good one) for me when we return to the USA from Mexico. I imagine that your experience with that was at least ten times as intense due to Omicron. May you and yours all be safe and well.

  2. Looks like you and your love had such a wonderful vacation there, enjoying the warmth and sunshine. So glad you made it home safely and without chaos.
    I hope all goes well for your son and daughter and future covid tests. These are such challenging times. Thinking of you and sending good wishes to your and your family that all will be well.

  3. Looks like an amazing trip. Yes Omicron has taken a hold here in the UK. The good news is if you've had all your vaccinations and get covid the symptoms should be fairly tame. Let's pray that's true for all of us.

    I'm meant to flying out to the States on the 29th of December, but I have a feeling that may not happen now.

  4. It has been said that the virus is just something we must live with, it is not going to go anywhere and will mutate fiercely. You holididay looks amazing and the kids are so beautiful - You and your Man are too, just gorgeous and happy! I am so glad that you went!

  5. I am quite envious of the beach and ocean and the light. Omicron is getting going here too. Oh what fun!

    Stay safe my friend and that you for the lovely photos to remind me there is a great big, beautiful world out there, waiting.

  6. Lovely photos. Hope that you will all be OK re covid. This new variant has caused us to cancel the Boxing Day party for the wider family, but still hoping to see my 3 boys and their families on Xmas Day and Box Day..(just as long as no one tests positive in the next few days)

  7. Wow! what a gorgeous place! Glad you made it home safely and hope you continue to be safe at home. We have rapid tests to take at home before we gather at my brother's on Christmas Eve.
    Wishing you peace and good health!

  8. What a wonderful trip and I'm so glad you went. You were probably far less likely to be exposed there than back here in the US with so many covidiots refusing to get vaccinated or wear a mask. Let's hope it doesn't find its way into your family. I heard maybe on NPR that they think omicron, while much more contagious, is not very good at getting past the 1st stage of infection, the nasal passages, and into the 2nd, the lungs, which is why they think it's a milder form.

  9. Good that you had such a lovely time (other than the missed connection) in Belize.

    Not surprised about the pilot's tone of voice on the MIA-NY flight. There have been so many disturbances at MIA--the other day, cops even pulled a gun on some people who were fighting at a gate. Any number of flight attendants on domestic flights actually injured by surly passengers refusing to wear masks. Sad state of affairs. Hope you can hold on to some of that Caribbean feel despite the craziness. May you and your family be safe.

  10. It is a joy to know that you and your beloved man and extended family members could travel to a sunny welcoming place this winter and are safe at home again.

    A friend just relayed the news to me that family members in New York have tested positive. May we all remain healthy as possible during this pandemic that has no foreseeable end. Just because we can't see the end doesn't mean that the end isn't out there somewhere. Sending love always.

  11. I can only imagine that snorkeling on a reef in Belize must be MAGICAL for an ichthyologist!

    You have such a beautiful and fascinating family. I'm glad your trip worked out so well. I'm sure it restored your soul.

    As for Omicron, I feel a bit blase about it too. Maybe just fatigued! But at any rate, as you said, its effects seem less severe than earlier variants. (Fingers crossed)

  12. What a wonderful vacation you had. I'm very happy that you went. It would appear that we may be in for a long sad new year, so it's really good that you got some joy.