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Thinking on the Fly and My Funny Roatan Check In Experience

Thinking on the Fly and My Funny Roatan Check In Experience

Bits and pieces of our group of 15 on the sailing Belize to Roatan and flying back experience are starting to reach the next level on the internet. The other bloggers in the group, Leisa and Ronnie have started going through their over 600 + (we were all shutterbugs) pictures and video footage and posting on their blog First World Refugee.

Their amusing account of our Journey to Jonesville, Roatan in search of the (now infamous to all of us who were there) Hole in the Wall Bar and Grill is worth reading. Some people that that write humorously have that spread component across their lives, this is the case with Ronnie and Lisa. They matched their day of infamy story with an equally funny flip video in the Guava Grove pool that thankfully did not qualify for tosh. O with any wipeouts – Caddyshack Pool Party Redeux in Roatan!

With so much happening over the course of the 11-day trip, I decided to lay it all out in a few different posts starting with our flight home followed by our 4-day ocean crossing. Then I will cover in between which includes all the fun stuff. Cool things we saw and yummy things we ate instead of the normal hauling boxes and eating pizza while helping our friend Kendall move to Honduras.

Thinking on the Fly 

Even though we knew it was coming, my travel companions Heather and Kevin Smith and I were all feeling the effects of not having our morning shot of coffee. We were just grateful that Kendall had scored a car and was willing to wake up before the crack of dawn (4:30 am) to be our shuttle. This involved taking a half hour drive from French Harbor to the West End to pick them up then doubling back for about half way to drop us at Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport (Also known as Roatan International Airport). In spite of the fact that we were all sleepy and 3 of us were trying not to be grouchy, we enjoyed as much pleasant and humorous conversation as we could on the drive. It was not lost that we were about to leave a part our San Pedro lives, in Roatan where he was going to start a great new life. Or that the last of his San Pedro friends were leaving and now it was time to make more in his new home.

Sometimes a little humor goes a long way, it also helped us counterbalance the lack of caffeine crabbies.

As my travel companions stepped aside to fill in their forms and I walked up the counter and was greeted by a friendly and polite agent. After a bit of back and forth, he said I was somehow showing up in the system with the first name of Ian.

We could not figure out why until I turned around to let Kevin and Heather know why I was taking so long. The guy behind me overheard and said his name was Ian. It was not long before we discovered Norton was both our surname. We all laughed, the guy at the desk was relieved and then easily found me in the system. 

Once we got through the machines, the 3 of us sat quietly waiting for the next leg of our journey and thankful were one step closer to morning coffee. Before long, the same guy that checked us in appeared, I looked at him and said: “nice to meet you my name is Ian.” The 4 of us “smiled widely” (as my friend JC says) at my silly joke and then led us out to the tarmac to board the plane.

Enjoying the Ride

Due to cumulus clouds, our plane was scud running (flying at a lower altitude.) Generally, RTB – BZE route has planes flying 7000 – 9000 ft. Even though Tropic has instrument-rated pilots, weather and prevailing wind speed can cause a need to fly low. Thankfully it was only fluffy clouds that made for a relaxing flight and set our altitude closer to 7000 feet that day. Our speed was about 145 knots (268 kilometers per hour) with zero turbulence the whole way.  

After a smooth landing in Belize City we all started to get excited – it was almost coffee time. Clearing customs with Remero and check in at Tropic Air was fast and easy. As we crossed over to “the other side” we were all salivating for what we knew lay ahead of us… Le Petit Cafe – (iced in my case) coffee and light breakfast.

Here is where having patience from being used to power outages and often ending up on Belize time whether you wanted to be or not came in handy. There was no coffee because the water was not working at the cafe at that moment and I did not feel like paying $11 BZD for a “processed looking coffee slushy.” Even though they had Belizean snacks and an increased regular selection, I was a bit disappointed that the popular snack stop changed their layout and now have more of a convenience store feel with a bigger self-serve area and “packaged fridge food.” To remedy that and take my mind off the wait for a cool caffeine fix, I went and found Jet, a favorite airport icon to many. He was in a great mood as always and made me smile. 

Flight Price and Schedule from Roatan to Belize

  • Flight Price: one way $468.94 – pricing in Belize dollars. 
  • Flight Schedule – Tropic Air fly’s from Aeropuerto De Roatan (RTB) Departure 7:00 AM   Arriving at Philip Goldson International Airport at (BZE) 8:00 AM – Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday’s during low season

*please note above schedule and pricing are from May 2017

Roatan to Belize

Cost breakdown – Courtesy of Tropic Reservations

For those of you who plan to continue on to Ambergris Caye, Belize City to San Pedro it is $179.50 – pricing in Belize dollars.

Having experienced island hopper flights from a very young age I have long been used to flying in small planes. That is not the case for everyone though. If you are slightly nervous about flying in a small plane, click to read “Safe and Quick” and other Tropic Air reviews that will put your mind at ease. 

As for our flight back to San Pedro that day, it was great. I got the shotgun seat (co-pilot’s) beside a favorite pilot, Wally Nunez in a fun 4 seater plane. For those of you who long for the flight to Ambergris Caye, you will love this video I captured of the take-off and landing. 

Taco Travel Tips

  • If you are one who gets cold easy like I do, pack a light warm option. Tropic’s new air-conditioning systems really cooled down my ride. I put a jacket on and had my soft fidget blanket on my lap.
  • Always remember to pack a pen or two in your carry-on. Thanks to Heather I did not have to dig mine out. 
  • In addition to photocopying your passport and important ID you are bringing on your trip, make sure take pics of them on your smartphone.

Flight News

  1. What do you do with your boarding pass after your flight lands? I came across an interesting read in The Economist this morning about the hidden data on a boarding pass. Click through to read reasons why you might want to be more careful with it when done flying.
  2. Tropic Air offers over 200 daily scheduled flights with 18 aircraft to 19 destinations in Belize, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. This week the popular airline announced the launch of its new mobile iOS app, which is designed to make the travel easier. Key features include flight booking, exclusive deals, tour and travel information, as well as itinerary management. The Flight app is currently downloadable in the Apple App Store and compatible with iOS 9 and 10. Android users can look forward to a Google Play Store option soon and both will get ongoing new features. Click through for more details in the full press release on Tropic website. 
Honduras Airport

Almost empty at 6:00 am – Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport, Roatan.

Roatan to Belize

Waiting to check in

Roatan Airport

Crazy display of all the things you cannot fly with including mayonnaise and 3/4 empty hot sauce bottle

Flying roatan to Belize

Our first plane

Roatan to Belize

Small bits of view through mostly cloudy skies

Country of Belize

Flying over Belize

Belizel Airport

Heading for customs at Philip Goldson International Airport

Roatan to Belize

Where’s my coffee?

Belize Airport

Early morning baggage claim was silent

Jets Bar

World famous Jet

Flying to Ambergris Caye

Our second plane

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