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~ Vancouver to Belize ~

We left Vancouver on Tuesday Sept. 26th. It was very hard to get organized at the end as a bunch of things kept popping up delaying us...

During our last week in Vancouver, we were sooooo busy emptying the house... we made about 3 trips to Salvation Army with furniture and lots of other stuff. On the last Friday before leaving (Sept. 22), Freightlink (company shipping our stuff to Belize) came by and picked up our 38 pieces to take to their warehouse, crate and ship.

Finally, on Tuesday (2 days later than planned), we were ready and started loading the truck. Well, we had too much stuff and had to shrink down some more... When we left, the truck was still way too full for the long drive ahead, so we headed for Freightlink, which fortunately is located at the Canada/USA border. There we had to repack a bit, adjust inventory/packing list, and gave them an extra 10 pieces to add to our 38. Once that was done, the truck was looking much better and we could actually see through the back window! But now we still could not cross the border as we had to have a detailed list of each box contents in case they requested it. So we went to have dinner and revised our inventory list. We finally crossed the border at about 8 pm. We had no idea how long it would take... as they could easily decide to empty the truck and go through every boxes. Anyway, the guy came out and we handed him our passports. He asked where we were going and we told him "we are moving to Belize". He then asked what we were going to do for a living and a few other questions... After barely 5 minutes, he said; you guys are crazy, good luck and have fun. He gave us back our passports and waved us through. He never even looked in the back of the truck! One down and two to go. We were ecstatic and were hoping all borders were going to be as easy as this one!

We then drove to Blaine, just 2 minutes in, and took a little motel, the Anchor Inn. In the last week we had had very little sleep because of so much to do and the high stress level. But now that we were in the states and on our way, we could not wait for a nice relaxing long night sleep!

Wednesday morning we slept in a bit, had a nice breakfast and got on the I5 heading south. We stopped in Seattle and visited with Becky. Becky used to work at Don Foster's in Cayman. We worked together for about 6 years and had not seen each other for about 9 years. So to say the least, that was a very very nice visit! At about 3 pm we left Seattle and made it to Wilsonville, OR.

The next day, back on I5 all the way to Grants Pass, OR. There we took route 199, very windy road through high mountains, heading west to the California coast. 5 minutes after Grants Pass on 199 (Redwood Highway), the traffic came to a stand still. There was a really bad head-on collision a few miles ahead and we had no idea how long it would take. So I got my camping chair out and did my nails! We also socialized and met some nice people. We were there for 1 1/2 hrs! We reached the California coast at Crescent City around 5 pm. We headed south on 101 in thick fog. But the view was still beautiful. We drove another 3 hours and stopped at the Best Western in Arcata for the night. Along 101, we stopped and watched 2 large elk play and lock horns... they were very very close and we got some great shots!

Friday 29th, we got up to a cold and muggy overcast day. But fortunately it cleared up! A beautiful day driving along the coast. We drove through the "Avenue of the Giants" and did the tourist thing of driving our truck through a giant tree for $5.00! That day we were planning on sleeping somewhere just before San Francisco as the next day we were going to a Garden Party in Santa Cruz at Robert's, the guy we bought our Belize property from. Robert is Rosanne's brother, Rosanne who is buried on our land and so is now family! We got near San Fran around dinner time and stopped at a Best Western. They were sold out and told us that most everything around was also sold out. The traffic on the highway was super heavy and people were driving like crazy. So, we decided that the best way to get out of this mess was just to get back on the highway, drive like nuts with the rest of traffic and go through San Fran. So we took the Golden Gate bridge in the dark and missed the view... oh well, we'll have to go back some day!!! Anyway, after San Fran, we got on the highway to Santa Cruz and were expecting to find a hotel along the highway, as there are always plenty of them. Of course, since it was late and we were tired, there was nothing... we ended up driving all the way to Santa Cruz. We took the first motel we found and passed out! The next morning, we took it easy, checked out and went to Robert's. Santa Cruz is a very beautiful little town and houses are also very cute (World War II Era). We found Robert's house no problem and were there around 1:30 pm. When we got there, the party was well under way and there was lots of people, all super nice artist type people. So interesting we never even took any pictures as we were too busy chatting! Since we bought the property in March 2005 we had been in contact by phone and email, so it was very very nice to finally meet in person! We stayed over through dinner and I had quite a bit to drink... we had a real blast! Around 9 pm, I got in Robert's car and Steve got in the truck with Paul. We drove to Ocean Pacific Motel where Robert treated us to a nice room for the night. The next morning, we had a great brunch with Robert and Steve. We left Santa Cruz around 1:30 pm and headed south and east. We made it to Mojave, CA by 7:30 pm.

Monday Oct. 2nd, getting on I40 heading to Dallas to visit with the O'Neals! For the next 3 days, we stayed on I40 and went through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas... doing anywhere from 75 (the speed limit) to 90 mph thru the desert. The drive was fast and smooth and the scenery was beautiful. We arrived in Dallas on Wed the 4th around 4 pm. We stayed with Robert and Susan for 2 nights, and on Friday the 6th we headed to Houston. In Houston, we had an appointment at Discount Tires to replace our standard tires (we chose Houston as we have friends we wanted to visit with) for mud ones since 90% of the roads in Belize are not paved and the road to our property is more like a trail! And during rainy days, it gets quite muddy. So on Friday we got our tires replaced. Then we found out that we were pulling to the right quite a lot, so on Saturday we went back to Discount Tires. They rotated the tires a few times but the problem persisted. They then concluded that one of the tires is probably faulty but didn't know which one. So they decided to order 4 new ones and replace them all. This delayed leaving Houston by a few days, so we relaxed by the pool at the hotel, had a few dinners with Tommy and Bonnie, and also had one dinner with Jeff, who is actually a Newfie! Finally, on Wednesday the 11th, we got the new tires. With Tac’s (our truck) new shoes and a wheel alignment, we finally got on the road around 2:30 pm. We drove to Kingsville, which would be our last night in the States before crossing into Mexico.

Thursday Oct. 12 heading to Brownsville, TX for the Mexican border. To drive into Mexico, you need to buy Mexican insurance, which I had done over the internet in Houston. But before crossing, at the border you also need to buy a Temporary Import Permit for the vehicle. From my reading in Forums from people who have done this trip before, you can never know what to expect... it can take a full day or just a few minutes... Well, we were in luck again! I got all the papers done in about 15 minutes and when we drove through, the guy barely looked at our papers and waved us in! The entire process took a maximum of 30 minutes. So now we had 2 easy crossing, and one more to go, entering Belize. We were wishing for same luck for sure!

Mexico, haaaaa! The first town/city we came in to is called Matamoros. In Mexico, we found out, the road signs are rare and not very precise. Anyway, we immediately got lost!!! After going around for about an hour, we finally got on the right road. Our itinerary in Mexico was to follow the east coast along the ocean (Gulf of Mexico). The roads were quite good, but very narrow. The little towns we drove through were that, very little towns and not much in them! The scenery for the entire drive was really beautiful and we didn't have any problems! On the second day, after sleeping in the town of Altamira, we got on the road around 8:30 am. The next town, which seemed to be quite a good size, was Tampico. We were hoping to miss it by staying on the highway. In no time we were past Tampico without getting lost. We were super happy and gave each other the high five! A little while later we realized we were heading the wrong way. So we turned around and headed back to Tampico. Following the signs, we entered Tampico, and got lost! We stopped at a gas station and asked for directions. A nice man who was fueling his truck told us he was going that way and that we could follow him. He was super nice, making sure we were following, and lead us on the right road! That second day we drove all the way to Veracruz. Since we didn't want to get lost again, we slept at the first motel at the entrance of town since the highway we were on was the same one we wanted to stay on for the next day. This motel in Veracruz, Maxim's Motel, was quite unusual. It was a gated compound... we drove in and each accommodation had a garage with an inside staircase leading to the room above. It was very very private once your garage door was closed. We got upstairs and the room was super nice and clean. We started looking around and it looked a bit different from regular rooms... lots of mirrors, very hard bed, kleenex dispenser mounted into the wall next to the bed, very roomy shower... when I pressed the power button on the remote, hard core porn came on. On the back of the door the room prices were listed... there were a price for 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours etc. up to a full night! On the desk there was a menu for room service and from this menu you could also order condoms!!!! There you go, we were in a sex motel!!! Throughout Mexico we stucked to the nicest, toll highways (Some of which would turn to crap with absolutely no warning... it really sucks when you are cruising at 60 mph!!!). In all we had a total of 14 tolls. We spent 3 nights in Mexico and on Sunday Oct. 15th we crossed into Belize.

At the Mexican border we were supposed to return our Temporary Import Permit for the truck, but the office was closed for the day. So we decided to enter Belize anyway and figure out later on how to return the permit. Belize was not as easy as the US and Mexico, but it still went quite well. They did look through the truck, but with our inventory list, they didn't search too much. The lady who took care of us said that she would give us a break and not charge us duty on anything. So about an hour later, we were in Belize and driving toward home! That day, since it was already 4 pm, we spent the night in Orange Walk. We drove to Barton Creek the next day and finally unloaded Tac. We also removed the canopy and felt so much lighter!!

To return the Mexican permit, we had to drive back into Mexico, which we did on November 7th. We crossed the bridge, got an officer by the truck, got our cancellation document and drove back into Belize. All in all it took about 10 minutes! What sucked is that to do that we had to drive about 3 hrs to get to Corozal and the Mexican border!