Last month my husband Coy and I went to Belize to work with a ministry that a friend had started there. We’d never been to Belize before, but we’ve done our share of traveling and thought we’d seen everything. We were wrong.

After a long day of flights and getting our bearings in the town, we were pleased to see how nice and clean our hotel was. It was beautiful with French doors to a balcony and many windows, but a quick inspection showed that the balcony was one continuous platform with only a very low wall separating it from the other four rooms on that side of the hotel. Not only that, the lock on the French doors popped open when wiggled and the window in the bathroom (which also opened out to the balcony) didn’t have a lock. Alrighty, then. First, we placed the only chair in the room in front of the French doors and then we propped one of Coy’s shoes on the windowsill to jam the window closed. We’re not usually that cautious, but it was our first night in a foreign country and the front office was closed for the night with no one on call. Might as well be careful.

I was sleeping hard, I know that much. With the air conditioner and fan going, outside noises were muted into a soothing drone…that was until I heard screaming. Someone was screaming bloody murder. I sat up in bed and that’s when I realized that the person screaming was me.

Why was I screaming? Then I saw him. There was a man standing in the dark at the foot of our bed.

Now, let’s analyze this –

Waking up to find a stranger in your dark room has to be on the top of every “scenario-you-don’t-want-to-face” list. In my part of the world, when this happens, it’s either the Grim Reaper or someone is fixing to meet the Grim Reaper. To be honest, I didn’t even know where I was, but I knew I was facing pure evil and somehow I was going to defeat it by shrieking at the top of my lungs.

Immediately, I heard a roaring next to me. Coy bellowed like Braveheart and threw a pillow at the figure while he simultaneously rolled out of bed and charged. The intruder turned and dashed into the hall. Coy disappeared around the corner and I started hearing a very apologetic voice fading as it ran away, “Sorry. Wrong room. Wrong room.”

I can only imagine what people in the neighboring rooms thought hearing this ruckus. Had there been room phones, I’m sure they would’ve lit up the front desk. Coy came back to the room twitching with adrenaline-fueled jet lag and locked the door behind him. (Did I mention there was no latch on the inside of the door?) Then we just looked at each other.

Wrong room? How did his key work? Were all the keys the same? Who else was coming through the door? We put the one chair in front of the hallway door and moved a nightstand in front of the French door. Then we piled suitcases up on both pieces of furniture so we’d have a little more warning before someone could make it to the bed.

Needless to say, every noise that night had me jumping up to see if the door was opening, because we still didn’t know how that had happened. It wasn’t until the next morning that we got a reasonable explanation from the hotel staff. The men (there were two, one didn’t make it into the room before we unloaded on them) were the nephews of the owner. They’d been staying in our room, but when our reservation came up the staff moved their things to another room and had forgotten to tell them and take their keys away.

It was as good of an explanation as any. The staff was appropriately horrified and the hapless nephews claimed to have been as scared as I was. All in all, we were able to rest well for the rest of the trip. Hopefully the only consequences to our scary night was the sore throat I got from yelling. As long as no one uploads the film from the hallway security camera, all will be forgiven.

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