Thursday, March 26, 2009

you mean like on vacay? let's all go!

my vacation days were assigned for february and along with my regularly scheduled days off, i was able to get almost two weeks off at the end of the month. i spent the first part in panama city beach, florida with the grandparents, whom i hadn't seen since before i left for france last year! i was reminded how terrifying it can be to be a passenger in the car with grandpa - the world is out to get him! all in all it was a very relaxing vacation and i was even able to get a little sun!

the view from our balcony

the second half of my vacay was spent in belize with other flight attendants. our group included two of my roommates, maritza and tim, and three other flight attendants william, matthew and jason. we also had matt's boyfriend tj, maritza's boyfriend jason, and maritza's sister osiris. we were 9 total and ready for some fun in the jungle! we had such a great trip and thanks to will's grandparents we were able to do a lot for a very low price. william/will/wilma is like our 5th roommate and his grandparents own a lodge in the jungle of belize called banana bank.

everyone got first class on the flight down meaning our day started with screwdrivers and other various cocktails. when we arrived the rental van wasn't quite ready so we went to the airport restaurant bar. after a little noshing, beer, and tequila shots to start off the trip we were ready! on our way to the lodge we made a couple pit stops for bottles of rum and beer by the case, arriving just in time to unpack and go to dinner. that night i ate the best enchiladas i've ever had - and i've had a LOT in my life! meals are served family style and all are freshly made from scratch.

tequila shots at the airport!

our chalet: we had the whole top floor

the "restaurant" where we ate our meals

wilma's grandparents have a variety of animals at the lodge including a jaguar named tica, chico the spider monkey, and many different birds.



the birds

tuesday we went on our first adventure - cave tubing! our guide albert is a certified belizian tour guide. as we hiked through the woods he stopped to show us various plants while explaining their medicinal purposes. as his appointed group manager, i was told that i had to try everything he did. my only rule was that i would not eat bugs... the river water was crystal clear and we stopped at various spots to jump off cliffs or swing from the trees. albert taught us a lot about the mayan beliefs and that they would come to the caves to make sacrifices. currently we are in the corn world and the mayans predict that it will end in 2012.

wednesday we visited the mayan ruins of caracol. albert taught us more about the natural resources in the forest, including a fruit that can be used for glue, a warrior ant that can be used as a temporary stitch, and termites that are eaten for protein. (yes i broke my own rule and ate the minty flavored little things!)

the "claws" at the head of the ant is holding the skin together, and you just pinch off the rest of the body


the sap-like juice from this fruit is used as glue

down in one of the mayan tombs

after leaving caracol we stopped for lunch and a swim at a beautiful waterfall spot. the boys swam with the leaches while the girls stayed out of the icy water, relaxing on the rocks.

thursday was our last full day in belize and snorkeling was on the agenda. we got up very early to drive into belize city and catch the water taxi to san pedro. we grabbed breakfast tacos, fresh squeezed orange juice, and nescafe at a little stand before boarding the boat. once we got to the caye we took a taxi to banana beach where we got our gear and headed out to the reef. we were able to see barracuda, whale sharks, sea turtles, moray eels, and much more... we even touched the stingrays! we ate lunch afterwards in the little town of san pedro - i had a belizian specialty rice and beans topped with fish and a side of potato salad. (you can also have chicken or beef.) we walked around looking at the little souvenir shops and even grabbed some fresh mango sorbet.

maritza and me on the boat to san pedro

the jasons looking at the sharks in the water

tim and me at the sorbet shop

walking the streets of san pedro

back in belize city, we took the local bus to a town closer to the lodge. the idea of taking the local bus seemed a little shady but we jammed out to the music playing over the loudspeaker and admired the beautiful countryside as the sun was setting. that night we planned for a farewell party by the pool but everyone fell asleep right after dinner, exhausted from our adventures of the days before. the trip was amazing and i suggest it to anyone looking for something a little out of the ordinary!

tim and me on the local bus

belize city

we're only human

back in february i was sent to cleveland to sit reserve there because their base was short. that night as i was lying in bed trying to sleep, my friend ashley came from her room across the hall banging on my door. she told me that a continental plane crashed. from the look on her face i could tell that this was no denver incident where the plane just skidded off the runway and everyone got out safely. i ushered her in and we turned on cnn. there it was on the screen, a horrible fiery image of the bombardier dash 8 q400 and the continental name flashing everywhere. something most people don't realize is that the plane that crashed actually belonged to colgan air, operating for continental as a commuter flight.

i didn't get any sleep that night, glued to the tv like it was a "train wreck." everytime i dozed off i would get a new phone call or text message. it was definitely nice to know those people cared and were worried, but the next day i was assigned a four day trip after no sleep and then it wasn't so nice anymore.

the trip had layovers in denver, cancun, and then new york's la guardia airport. cancun was the perfect place to spend valentine's day! our shuttle driver gave us roses when he picked us up from the airport. i spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach working on my tan and then had a mojito on my balcony before grabbing dinner across the street from our resort. it was an early night but i was exhausted from days before and had a 4am wakeup call.

the pool and beach area

the view from my balcony

the restuarant across the street from the resort

the next day went as any other. when i got to my hotel in queens i decided to take the train into manhattan so i could get a late christmas/valentine's gift for carin and cameron's little anna kate. when i got back to my hotel i had a message from someone at the houston inflight office. the crew who used our plane after us took a delay because of a low portable oxygen bottle (POB.) being the lead on the trip i had the signoff sheet that each crewmember signs to indicate that they have checked their safety equipment. when our conversation finished i thought the issue was over.

later that week, on the first day of my vacation, i received a call from my supervisor asking about the POB... the issue was just getting started. an investigation took place in the weeks following and was just recently resolved. as completely positive i am that i checked that bottle and as much as i hate to admit this, i must have missed it. the empty bottle flew three or four legs before someone noticed. each leg had two crew members responsible for checking it's level. everyone who missed it was given two steps of discipline and had to attend a short training refresher on safety equipment. luckily for me, i am now off my initial probation and have a completely clean record.

those of you who know me know that i am a perfectionist so of course i was completely disappointed in myself. luckily my supervisor is really great and during our discussion he made me feel so much better. "i know you're a great flight attendant and you have a perfect record. of all the people in this investigtion, seniorities range all over so it's not a matter of experience or you not knowing what you're doing. people make mistakes and the only thing you can do it learn from them."