There are moments in life that define who you are. For me, one of them was on a frozen mountain lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in the early winter months of 2011: this is when I asked my wife Jenn to marry me. So began a new era…. and to kick it off, we hadn’t gotten 100 feet from that lake before we’d started planning our honeymoon. Some may call that a little extreme, but I guess that’s what you get when your pair up two people struck with a bad case of wanderlust like Jenn and I.
And the ideas began to flow: I suggested a rustic lodge-to-lodge trek into Machu Picchu; she suggested a luxurious over-water bungalow in Bora bora. I suggested an adventurous tour across the cities of Western Europe, she suggested the near deserted solitude of the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean. And so started a new dimension to traveling (and life) I’d yet to experience on this level: compromise. If there were only some tool available at the time that would have helped us consider every option given our differing tastes, we may have resolved this quicker.
But alas, the compromising began. I accepted that I probably wasnt going to see the inside of a tent on our honeymoon, and she came to grips that there may have to be more to do than simply watching the tide come in as the sun set. After some extensive research and tips from friends, we finally agreed on a place. Heading towards the equator became an obvious choice given this was December, and it also turns out there are places with both mountains and beaches. So Belize it was. What also became clear was this trip should have some element of relaxation – meaning there was to be no long waits at bus stops where we weren’t entirely sure we’d even be picked up, no crossing our fingers and hoping the last night train of the evening hadn’t left before we made it to the station, and certainly no strolling into a city without a plan and trying to identify the least shady looking hostel that wasn’t already booked up.
So here I was again, after thinking the Dominican Republic was going to be my last: we booked an all inclusive resort package with Coppola resorts, half in the mountains, half on the beach. Compromise. After learning that Renee Zellweger had taken the same trip with Coppola Resorts a few months back, our choice was confirmed: what’s good enough for Bridget Jones was good enough for us.
We left the reception of our wedding early in the evening for our flight out to Belize City the next morning. Maybe this was a good choice, as by all accounts if I’d partied half as hard as most did that night I’d have been boarding the plane with a Gatorade, a splitting headache, and a motion sickness bag close at hand; not the ideal way to start one’s honeymoon. In Belize City we quickly transferred to a van which drove us west past the capital Belmopan and deep into the Belizean mountains. By the time we were nearing the Blancaneax Lodge it was dark, and as we neared our destination, the driver was kind enough to stop and allow us to admire some of the fauna of the jungle under the headlights of the van: a tarantula crossing the road about 20 feet ahead. Unfortunately he wasn’t aware of one of my new bride’s cardinal rules in life: any spider that can be seen from 20 feet away warrants turning around and going home immediately. Luckily for me, we were way too far into the jungle and had too much sunk into this trip for us to turn around now, so on we went (after the hairy guy had finished crossing the road of course).
We passed a small airstrip (the one that Renee no doubt utilized, allowing her to bypass any jungle creatures which may spoil her trip), turned down the long driveway to the lodge which weaved through the think jungle, and were led to our bungalow whose back porch overlooked the Blancaneax river. Reportedly, Francis Ford Coppola had picked this spot for his lodge because it had reminded him of his days filming Apocalypse Now along the Mekong River in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. In hopes of avoiding nightmares I had intentionally failed to mention this to Jenn, but I couldn’t resist sitting on the patio and squinting into the darkness imagining VC looking back at me from the jungle across the river. I popped open the duty free tequila, learned my new bride did not care for tequila, and began to very thoroughly enjoy life, realizing the next several days would be filled with the sound of rushing water, the peace of being far from civilization with the one I loved, and lots of margaritas that I didn’t have to share.