The Karen & Donners Wedding {Part II}

STOP! REQUIRED READING: The Karen & Donners Wedding {Part I}

Life has never been more amazing. She’s thriving here at home, just like everyone said she would, and we’re all growing and healing together, and we might actually be getting close to starting to kind of forget about that whole NICU adventure. We’re enjoying some quiet downtime while Nyana gets used to having Mr. Button along for the ride, and we’re enjoying the uninteresting life we sought so badly while still in the hospital. So tonight, while things are quiet in Nyanaland, let’s go back to Belize City, as Don and I were saying goodbye to one adventure and were saying hello to another. Ambergris Caye awaited.

Our flight from the mainland to the island wasn’t even fifteen minutes in a 12-seat Cessna. Turquoise waters and the white foam of the Belize Barrier Reef just miles off the shore of the caye gave way to the shortest landing strip I’ve ever seen. There was quite literally a wooden picket fence at the end of the runway, the backyard of a grocery store on the other side of the fence, and one of the town’s main streets directly adjacent. Imagine. Landing a plane in the centre of town. But there we were. And there was San Pedro, the tiny little town on the edge of the Caribbean, la Isla Bonita that Madonna sings about.

Coming in to land in San Pedro.

Coming in to land in San Pedro.

We were staying at a place about five miles north of town, and the owner had arranged for a local fellow to collect us at the airport and escort us to the villa. Our chauffeur, Armando, dropped us off first at our wedding planner’s office, so we could officially apply for a marriage license. Being a part of the British Commonwealth—known as British Honduras and under British rule until 1981—our choice of Belize meant that our marriage was valid in Canada and we didn’t need to file any paperwork to have it recognized when we returned home. It took a few minutes for it to register that we were finally at the point where when someone asked when we were getting married, we gave them a day of the week instead of a date. When’s the wedding? Tuesday.

After taking care of formalities our planner, Iraida, drove us over to the grocery store to stock up on some basic supplies. I chatted outside with her in our golf cart while Don ran in and grabbed some groceries—beer and Chef Boyardee and peanut butter, and a few other items—as we had rented a private home for 10 nights, and there was no meal plan included.

Iraida dropped us down at the docks in town where we reconnected with Armando. He already had all of our luggage boarded into the speedboat and before we knew it, we found ourselves bumping along the crystal blue waters, marvelling as we saw stingrays swim under the boat, in awe of the colour of the sea. Remember that our wedding was the first time anyone in our party ever needed a passport, save for my brother-in-law who honeymooned in Italy. Everything was new to us, and everything was amazing. About ten minutes after leaving San Pedro, our boat pulled up to our private dock and Armando passed us and our luggage off to Sergio, our groundskeeper for the duration of our stay. Sergio loaded our suitcases into a yellow wheelbarrow and ushered us off the dock and up the beach, through the palm trees and past our salt-water pool to the front balcony of Casa Hokol Kin, one of four villas that form a cluster known locally as Los Encantos. It was as beautiful as the pictures on the website. And Don and I had all of it to ourselves for two whole days.

Our private pool.

The view from our private pool.

We claimed the master bedroom on the ground floor for ourselves and got settled. Unsure of what to do first, we eventually decided that Belikin beers and swim suits were a good place to start. After splashing in the sea and splashing in the pool, we cleaned ourselves up and headed out for dinner, left foot in the water towards town. Half a mile or so up the beach we found ourselves at Journey’s End resort, where we enjoyed a magnificent meal in the starlight. I kicked off my flip-flops and let my toes play in the cool sand under our table while we ate, and both of us just soaked it all in; the dreariness of Belize City behind us, the two of us alone in a tropical island dream. Our meal came to an end and we purchased a beer to go (imagine!) and settled into a hammock on the beach. But it didn’t take long to start feeling the rain drops, and by the time we decided we should be heading back to our villa, it was too late. We were officially caught in a tropical downpour.

Coming from Vancouver, we thought we knew rain. We knew we’d get rain every day—they don’t call it the rainy season for nothing, after all—but we had no idea the rain would be so torrential. We’d had one afternoon of rain in Belize City and we’d taken the opportunity to go up to the roof of the hotel to see how driving the downpour really was. I could have pulled out the shampoo bottle and washed my hair in the rain, no joke. As we scrambled out of the hammock and headed up the path back towards our villa in the night, we learned a valuable lesson: not to trust batteries in flashlights that we don’t own. We’d barely made it off the grounds of the resort before the light we’d borrowed from the villa gave out. But it was getting late and we weren’t sure if we were up for waiting out the storm, and our place wasn’t really that far up the beach… was it? So there Don and I found ourselves, on a narrow path along the beach, in the pitch blackness and in the pouring rain. It’s a wonderful memory now, in hindsight, but at the time—with the lightening illuminating the sky over the Caribbean and the wind whipping around us, and us just praying we’d be able to see the sign for Los Encantos when we got far enough up the beach—in that moment we were seriously starting to question what we’d signed up for.

And it’s a good thing we didn’t try to wait it out, because it only got worse. The storm continued through the evening—Don and I found our way home safely, albeit drenched, and sat for hours on the covered patio of our rented five-bedroom home, drinking rum and watching the sky—and when we finally toddled off to bed, the storm continued into the night as well. We woke at sunrise to clear skies, but learned quickly as we tried to make a pot of coffee that the power had been knocked out across the whole island; only the resorts and businesses in town who had generators were up and running. And so the two of us found ourselves strolling the beach again—right foot in the water this time—towards some of the fancier resorts up-island for some coffee and breakfast. We ended up at Mata Chica where we found, according to one of Don’s journal entries, “coffee you could chew… so thick and dark that not even Karen would drink it”. Of the pinapple smoothie he ordered, he remarked that it “bloated [him] up like a turkey in late September.” Needless to say, after the dreary, questionable days spent in Belize City, and then the terrifying downpour the night before and the lack of power when we woke, it was not at all the start to the day we’d been hoping for.

But by the time we made our way back to Los Encantos we’d had some caffeine and some sunshine and were prepared for whatever adventures the day held in store for us. Our families were scheduled to arrive at the villa in 24 hours and our afternoon plan entailed familiarizing ourselves with the lay of the land. So we slathered on the sunscreen and the bug spray, and set off towards San Pedro. It was only five miles and it was only 97 degrees; we figured we could save the fare for the water taxi and walk into town. We didn’t even make it half an hour before we cozied our way onto a private boat from one of the resorts up the beach, ferrying their guests into town.

Walking to town.

Quickly realizing that walking to town is a bad idea.

We took care of some administrative stuff in town—we stopped by our tour operator to check on our two excursions; while we were there we also checked in on the status of our cake, baked and designed by the owner of the tour company. We stopped in quickly to say hi to Iraida to finalize last minute details about flowers and hair and tapas, and then we lunched at a dive on the beach, barefoot in the sand, cold beer in hand. Following lunch, we explored the three streets in town and ended the day with a grocery shop. Done for the day, we returned to the water taxi dock to find we’d just missed the boat, and the next one wouldn’t be for two hours. Ah well. Such was Island Time. We left our groceries in a fridge on the pier (yes, you read that right), and went back to the place we’d lunched for another Belikin or two. We ended up connecting with a group of Americans we’d met on the boat ride into town, who were also waiting the two hours for the next ferry. We did the math and decided there were enough of us to justify splitting the cost of a private boat up-island towards home.

Lunch at Caliente

Just after devouring a delicious lunch at Caliente.

The view from the sea.

A view of Los Encantos from the sea.

It was our last night alone at Los Encantos; we sat in the palapa at the end of our pier for hours that night, staring at an unfamiliar sky, a beautiful sky completely untouched by city lights. We sat out there on the end of the pier for what seemed like hours, until our necks were sore from staring upwards and we were forced to remind ourselves that tomorrow was a big day. The family vacation was about to begin, and he and me were about to become we.

This is what we're waiting for!

And now, we wait for this, the rest of our family!


In just ten days we will celebrate our third wedding anniversary, three amazing years to be added to the previous seven we’d spent making sure we were sure. On our first anniversary we were still lovestruck newlyweds; on our second anniversary we were enjoying a happy, healthy pregnancy; and now here, creeping up on our third, we’ve been to hell and back and Belize feels like a lifetime ago. Don and I chose to get married on Canada Day and have long looked forward to celebrating the holiday with our ‘mini-me’s. Stay tuned for the next instalment of The Karen & Donners Wedding, as well as more exciting news about Nyana and her first Canada Day.

To view more photos of our first days in San Pedro, click here.


About Mrs. B

Wife, mother, marketer--not always in that order. Lover of fine food, good company, and exceptional grammar. Mother of one former micro-preemie and one full-term monster baby. Building childhood memories in Vancouver's suburbs.
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4 Responses to The Karen & Donners Wedding {Part II}

  1. Anne Brackett says:

    Life time of memmories. Never to be forgotten.
    Love Mom

  2. RoxiP says:

    What a trial by fire you have come through this year, and what a testament to the strength of the bonds of your marriage.

  3. forgetfuldad says:

    Absolutely amazing Karen. I love that I get to read you when I want, take my mind off things and enjoy Don’s, Nya’s and your adventures together. Truly amazing pics, also. How wonderful and thanks for sharing!

  4. Robyn says:

    Don’t stop, I want to know more! Love your writing 🙂

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