I finally left the country for the first time since we arrived a year ago. I know we’ve been to Mexico since then, but this was my first time getting on a plane and going through customs on the other end. And it was wonderful!!

A friend of mine was getting married in Colorado, and I just couldn’t miss it. Originally we were hoping to make it a family vacation, but A had already turned two, so we would’ve had to buy three expensive tickets. Plus we were having a big event at the Embassy after I got back, and half the office was gone for training all in the same week that I wanted to leave. So I only took three working days off around a three-day weekend. My hubby had to work the event. In the end, it was just easier for me to go alone and for a shorter time.

I had a little over an hour layover in Houston and had to go through customs, so I only brought a carry on…and a list of things to buy when I arrived. I figured I’d pick up a suitcase in Denver, which I did. I almost cried when I saw the Welcome to Houston, Texas sign at immigration. Although I was a little disappointed in the attending officer. When I used to come back from Antarctica and New Zealand, they’d always say, “Welcome home.” This individual never even looked me in the eye, demanded to know if I’d brought anything back from Belize, and told me to stay to the right as I exited.

But I finally got to Denver and met up with another friend who’d flown out from California just to visit with me while I was in the States. We’ve been friends for over 35 years, and I was so excited to see her!! We spent two days shopping and going to restaurants. And she let me drag her around to say “Hi” to some old work friends and to go the dentist. She also spent her birthday with me, so we went to dinner at a Colorado favorite called The Fort that’s famous for its Old West flair and exotic game menu. We had Duck Quesadillas for an appetizer. For the main course I had the daily special, which was Buffalo Prime Rib with garlic mashed potatoes. She had the Game Platter with buffalo, elk and quail. And for dessert I had a lovely crème brûlée, and she had vanilla ice cream over peach cobbler. Super yummy!

We started talking the minute we met at the airport, and we didn’t stop talking until I dropped her off again on Saturday afternoon. After hugs and good-byes, I made my way across town to meet up with a few other wedding guests for a fabulous personal tour of Lockheed Martin Space Systems given by the bride and groom since they are both basically rocket scientists. 🙂 On Saturday evening I actually went back to The Fort for the cocktail reception for out-of-town guests. I got to make some new acquaintances and mingle with the bride’s family, some of whom I’d met before, so that was nice.

And the wedding was lovely. It was in the Denver Botanic Garden, which I’d never been to when I lived there. Lots of fountains and flowers and a feeling of forest and English garden combined. The reception was at a restaurant downtown that I’d also never visited. So not only was I getting out of Belize, but I was actually trying new things in a familiar place. The best of both worlds! I would’ve loved to have been able to spend more time with the bride, of course, but I enjoyed visiting with common friends and generally have a good time.

Monday morning came entirely too quickly. I got up at 4:30am to catch my plane. But the flight was uneventful, and I was able to get a last-minute fast food fix in the airport and do some duty-free shopping. When I landed in Belize, the air was warm and wet, which was actually nice after the dryness of Colorado…I’d had small nosebleeds every morning. As I walked into the arrivals hall and through immigration I could hear a Caribbean-style band playing next to the conveyor belt in baggage claim. I waited my turn in line like a good diplomat since the line was short and the baggage was yet to come out. After the officer had stamped my passport, he handed it back to me and smiled and said, “Welcome back.”

Aw, thanks!