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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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So I have three bad things to discuss about our vacation, and then all further posts can be good things. I’ll get it out of my system, and then only the routine whining will be present in the later entries.

Rant One: Resort Manager Sucks

The manager of the resort was a complete asshole. Here are just a few reasons beyond that he wasn’t friendly, didn’t care about his guests, and so forth:

  • When Sarah was feeling sick, and didn’t want to come to the scuba orientation, acknowledging that she’d miss out on a dive, and would have to go through it later, he insisted “she has to come, or she doesn’t dive this week.” Seriously, what gives? It’s a vacation.
  • He never once asked any of us how our stay was thus far, how our accommodations were, how the dives were, if there was anything they could do to make it better. This was in spite of the fact that we saw him at least every night at dinner, if not several other times during the day.
  • He was irate that we (and some other guests) tipped staff directly, rather than putting it in a tipping envelope and handing it to him (as it’s much harder for him to take his cut that way). To digress a little, the only time he spoke to us after the first day was on the last day when he spent ten minutes going through tipping, why we should tip well, and why we should tip to him, in cash, so the government didn’t get a take. We confirmed later that he does take a cut off of everybody’s tips when in the envelope, and the in fact he splits it with his girlfriend (his wife still on the mainland) who then uses it to go shopping every Saturday in Belize City. Slimy slimy stuff, but the staff seemed to accept it … just the way things are done, I guess.

  • He never checked in with the new diver that he trained after the training was complete. As training consisted of making said diver watch a number of videos, take a test, and then doing four checkout dives, it would have been considerate to at least once ask him how his diving had been, if he felt comfortable, and so forth after his certification was finished. Further, he explained nothing to the new diver, including how to use his dive computer, so most of the rest of us on the dive boat had to walk him through things. Thank goodness one of our fellow divers was a dive master (and a better one than the resort-provided one, to boot). On that note, I’ll digress with an example story; this might take a while. Because the scuba boat captain had quit (apparently an ongoing problem, and I suspect something to do with the management), we couldn’t take any of the inboard scuba boats out. Instead, we had to take the fishing boat out for all scuba trips, including day-long trips to Long Cay and Half-Moon Cay. The fishing boat had no oxygen, no bathroom, no DAN kit, no dive flag, no proper strobe for night diving, no emergency underwater horn, no first aid kit, and no emergency spare 5-meter regulator. And it was super-cramped, with no effective shade, and nowhere to lay out. Further, it only had tank holders for a dozen tanks, so for our eight divers, on a three-tank dive schedule, we had tanks all over the place, rolling around and falling. To illustrate, the newly certified diver, on his first open water dive, had his entire rig fall sideways, causing his first stage to start leaking. When asked what happened, the boat captain said “ah, it’s the new guy’s stuff.”
  • He overcharged us for services we didn’t use, and grumbled as if irritated when we asked they be corrected.
  • He never once smiled.

Now, maybe this is all because the resort is closing in August to make way for a five-star resort (right now the entire island can accommodate at most 22 guests, and is the only island outside Belize City with its own airstrip, which makes it very attractive to the group of developers that have purchased it), but it’s still no excuse.

Rant Two: Turning In My C-Card

Oh god, the bugs! Err, that’s not my real second rant, but it almost qualifies. The lack of breeze on the first few days, and the bug that decided to join me in bed one night made some moments almost unbearable.

Anyhow, the real second complaint is about my sinuses. While I’ve had some problems with my sinuses while diving in the past, it was usually something I could manage with slow descents and a healthy dose of Sudafed. This time it was a lost cause. The first dive it took me fifteen minutes to get down fifty feet. By the fourth dive, five feet down was enough pressure to feel like ice picks were digging in my skull and I was dumping copious amounts of blood through my nose by the time I surfaced. With this in mind, I gave up on diving after the second day, and just snorkeled and sat on the boat the rest of the trip. This was a bit of a bummer, but we did hit a few sites where the snorkeling was good.

Rant Three: Travel Sucks

I make a post like this every time we go on vacation, but why does travel home after a good vacation have an amazing power to seem to wear away any of the relaxation and good buzz that you have after your vacation?

So we got up nice and early, and flew on the private charter off the island at about 7:00, to arrive in Belize City at 8:00. The airport doesn’t open until 10:00, so the air conditioning isn’t on (and yes, it’s warm even at 8AM in Belize), and there is not a thing to do. After noticing that nobody on our charter had a flight before 12:00, we questioned why our charter flight (20 minutes) had to happen so early in the morning. Then we remembered that the manager and his girlfriend were going for a nice day of shopping for her in the city, and she probably wanted to get started early. See whine number one.

Anyhow, we were told we could attempt to visit the zoo or the Mayan ruins in the meantime, but I didn’t feel like that was the best bet, not trusting the taxis to be prompt and reliable. My suspicions were confirmed when one of our other guests was getting called for final call during boarding, while being nowhere in sight. Ouch. Anyhow, we got on our flight to Miami on time, and prepared for the two-hour journey. At two hours into the flight, we entered a holding pattern due to thunderstorms over Miami. Stayed in the pattern for forty minutes, until the captain announced they were low on fuel, and would have to land in Ft. Myers. Land there, sit on the ground for an hour while fueling is negotiated. Because we’re international traffic, we cannot leave the plane. This frustrates a group of Germans to no end, who constantly go up to the front door of the plane and try to get off, and have verbal exchanges with the flight attendants.

At some point, fuel is negotiated, and we are cleared to land in Miami, which we do, and then spend ninety minutes crawling through immigration, baggage claim (where after the plane is emptied, we figure out that a small day pack is considered oversize luggage and is not put in the normal area, despite that numerous items larger in every dimension were unloaded as usual), customs, baggage re-check, and circumnavigation of MIA. MIA is one of the worst-designed airports ever. I hate it almost more than I hate Laguardia, our terminus. In any event, we get into our terminal, settle into our gate for our delayed departure to LGA, and realize that we’re sweating. Why? Because the air conditioning in our terminal isn’t on. In Miami. Yuck.

I get in line for a Pizza Hut pizza behind a group of sorority/fraternity pledges. This provides no end to my further irritation and annoyance, and takes twenty more minutes. We get on our plane, fly to LGA, wait for our luggage, and of course one of our bags is lost. It’s the backpack again. We file a baggage claim, and then go to meet our driver. We walk to his car through a questionable path, and he quickly tries to hide the emptied beer bottles. This isn’t a good sign. We probably should just have begged out there, but after a hair-raising journey back home, we arrive safe. No supplemental tip. We get up to our apartment and I realize I left my keys in Ridgefield. So, we drive to Ridgefield and crash there, at 2 in the morning.

So that’s all of the bad stuff, from this point forward it’s all positive.