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What Shall we do With a Drunken Sailor?

I met Jason on Expat Blog [I think] and he was agreeable doing a guest post – I gave him my email and left it at that. Then one day not to long after I got an email from him and as promised he had  written about a funny experience he has 20 years ago on Caye Caulker. He explained a bit more about the post but had forgotten to attach the story leaving me very intrigued and I could not wait to read it. Luckily I did not have to wait long as he sent it the next day and just as I thought, his story had me lol for real. After you read what he wrote please go check out Jason’s site DigiDrift and you will find more cool stuff.

Here’s Jason:

The year was 1992, and I was heading south from Canada and into the US. I had no set plans, but after watching Michael Douglas in ‘Romancing The Stone’, I knew I needed to get to South America, and in particular Colombia. After stopping in Los Angeles for a week or so, I managed to pick up some work at the ‘Banana Bungalow‘ youth hostel. I had a great time working there, but my feet were getting itchy again, and it was time to move on.

Whilst finishing my last day of cleaning bathrooms and sweeping floors, I was pondering my next move. I knew I was heading south, but I had no idea on where I was going. That afternoon I was kicking back in the hostels foyer, chilling out and having a few drinks with some fellow hostel workers, discussing our future travel plans. I glanced up at the large world map on the wall, and scanned my eyes in a southerly direction from LA, and over the countries of Central America, until I became fixated on the small country named Belize. In my early years of travel, my geography wasn’t the best. To be quiet honest, I’d never heard of the place, but it was time for me to move on, so I jumped up and said, “ I’m going to Belize, who’s coming with me?”

I managed to get a few people signed up for my adventure, and the deal was done. Tomorrow we would begin our overland trip through Central America, with our main goal of reaching the tiny nation of Belize. After a couple of weeks of overland travel through Mexico and Guatemala, we arrived in Belize City. For those that have been there, you’d know that it’s certainly a place you need to keep your wits about you, especially when walking the streets at night, but from day one I loved the place.

I’m not sure why they call it Belize City, as it’s more of a town, with a mere population of somewhere around 70,000. I suppose Belize Town just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Maybe It was a bit of forethought by the founders, as in a few centuries it will eventually become a city. Whilst making our way overland to Belize, we spoke with other travellers that were heading in the opposite direction, and they all mentioned that Caye Caulker was a must visit, and was a great place to chill out and relax. Caye Caulker was only a short 45 minute water taxi ride from Belize City, so we loaded our backpacks and off we went, for a week of relaxation, on this tiny limestone coral island.

Caye Caulker was exactly as I pictured it, a real travellers hang out, with cheap food and hammocks galore to spend the days lazing around. To give you some perspective of what the place was like back then, there were no credit card facilities and cash was king, without it you would go hungry. To make matters worse, there was only one place where you could get cash on the island, and this was a small outlet, that was basically opened by appointment only. Whilst there we also organised a snorkeling trip out to Belize’s famed reef, and it was on this day that we met our infamous captain. He quoted us a very reasonable price for the days snorkeling, that also included a trip over to Caye Caulkers bigger brother, Ambergris Caye.

As it so happened, our day trip was arranged for September 21st, this being the 10th anniversary of Belize Independence. We arranged to meet early in the morning so we could get some snorkeling done before it got to hot, and then spend the middle of the day at San Pedro to soak up the atmosphere, and grab a bite to eat, before heading back to Caye Caulker in the late afternoon. Once in town, our captain advised us to go and join in the fun, and to meet him back at the pier no later than 4.30pm. This would give us enough time to sail back to Caye Caulker, as doing so in the dark would be dangerous due to the reef, and our boat with it’s tiny engine was a little slow to say the least.

Snorkelling Belize’s famed reef was great, but the real adventure of this day was about to begin. The town of San Pedro was a buzz with activities, and we would spend the remainder of the day soaking up the Independence Day atmosphere, and gorged our selves on a large seafood lunch before heading back to the jetty to meet our captain. We were back at the jetty right on time, but there was no sign of our illustrious Captain. We waited and waited, but to no avail, what were we to do now? The time was now a little after 5.00pm, and a couple of the girls on our trip were beginning to worry, as the weather was also beginning to look a little worse for wear. It was still a beautiful sunny day, but the wind was starting to pick up.

A couple of us went looking for him, whilst the others stayed at the jetty with the boat. We hunted high and low, and were about to give up and head back, when we chanced upon him staggering down one of San Pedro’s small alleyways. It seemed our captain had also been enjoying the festivities a little to much, and to put it mildly he was completely smashed, I mean legless! What were we going to do now, none of us were experienced enough to sail back to Caye Caulker, but the captain kept telling us with slurred speech and eye’s rolling back in his head, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get us back safely’.

We walked the captain back to the boat, as a couple of the girls were becoming a little unhinged, and people were beginning to argue on what we should do. To make matters worse, Tim and I were laughing and taking photo’s with our drunken captain. The way I saw it, we only had two options, try and find some accommodation and stay the night, or roll the dice and try and get back by ourselves.

After some quick deliberation, we chose the latter, and quickly swung into action, force feeding the captain a litre or so of water, and put him behind the wheel. We unhooked the ropes and pushed off the jetty. Whilst casting off, there was a group of onlookers, some laughing while others had a slight look of concern on their faces. The whole time our captain was adamant, he would get us back safely. We had to try and make him believe he was still in control of the boat, when In reality it was us who were steering the vessel, with the odd direction uttered by the captain.

I’m sure he’d sailed this route many times, and even in his state, he still seemed to know where to go. It was hilarious, there we were bobbing up and down with the swell, with the captain barely with enough strength to stand and hold the wheel, with the sun slowly making it’s way beyond the horizon. He was singing Kriol songs, and as a team we safely guided our selves back to Caye Caulker, arriving a little after dark.

To be quite honest, after a few minutes we were pretty confident of making it back safely, and the hardest part of the journey was docking the boat at Caye Caulkers jetty, in the dark. Once back on dry land, we left our captain with some of his friends, and headed back to our guest house, laughing at what had just taken place. To this day, the captains name still eludes me as it was almost twenty years ago, and I hope he is still in good health. He was quite a character, and looking at the photo above, I always get a great laugh, thinking about the day we were left with the decision of ‘What shall we do with a drunken sailor?’

Caye Caulker Belize

12 comments

  1. I will ask my brother-in-law and will also send you an email to discuss the matter in detail. Easier that way.

    cheers…

  2. That is good news. Now I just need to go to the Canadian Consulate here and see what info they have. Any idea what citizenship costs here Remo and do you know if it is after 5 years of living here that you are able to apply for it?

  3. Check this link out please.

    http://www.rsscanadaimmigration.com/en/citizenship/dualcitizenship.php

    All my relatives that moved to Canada within recent years all have Dual Citizenships and never had to renounce anything.

    The same applies for you I gather.

    cheers

  4. Thanks Remo I appreciate the offer. If we can go dual between Canadian Belize I am definitely wanting to know more. Right now my first step is to find out of Dual is still an option for Canadians as we are not renouncing anything.

  5. My brother-in-law just got his Belizean passport about a year ago. He says its easier traveling on a US passport abroad but he still travels with 2 passports (US and Belize) just in case.

    My dad does the same as well. Actually, one time my Dad was at US immigration entering the USA and was told that if he used his British passport he would only get 3 months stay in the USA. My dad said he had a Belizean passport with a US travel VISA and was given 6 months stay because of the US travel VISA (I guess a lot of background checks involved before one is issued a travel Visa). British citizens don’t need a Visa to travel to USA but in his case it would of meant less time spent in the USA.

    Makes more sense to have Dual Citizenships in my opinion.

    Feel free to email me if you are interested in finding out more about obtaining a Belizean passport.

    cheers….

  6. According to Miriam Webster it would seem that way. I tried to look up slang definition of expat but go no where. I have not asled but to my knowledge none have renounced their citizenship although I could be wrong on that as I am sure a few people have chosen to be come citizens here. Way back when we were getting new passports in order to get our residency stamps we were at the Canadian Consulate and I saw a booklet for dual citizenship. I should have picked it up but at the time I figured everything would have changed by the time we were ready. We are not so far away now if I remember right it is 5 years till you can apply for citizenship. I need to go back and see if Dual is still an option.

  7. So by definition to be called an expat one has to renounce their Citizenships or allegiance of their home country.

    I know the GREAT Emory king (RIP) renounced his US Citizenship and is considered a TRUE expat in that sense.

    http://www.emoryking.com/

    So, of all the expats you know laurie how many have renounced their Citizenships to be considered a true expat? All of them?

    interesting question indeed…

    cheers….

  8. That is a very good question Remo. I Googled and although I found definitions for both expat and immigrant I did not find a clear answer. From what I can gather by the 2 definitions expat may have become a bit of a slang term now. Seems in some ways expat was not always by choice or giving up ones country where is Immigrant was going somewhere new by choice but not necessarily renouncing their old country. Can anyone out there help us on this one?

    Main Entry: 1ex·pa·tri·ate
    Pronunciation: \ek-?sp?-tr?-??t\
    Function: verb
    Inflected Form(s): ex·pa·tri·at·ed; ex·pa·tri·at·ing
    Etymology: Medieval Latin expatriatus, past participle of expatriare to leave one’s own country, from Latin ex- + patria native country, from feminine of patrius of a father, from patr-, pater father — more at father
    Date: 1768

    transitive verb 1 : banish, exile
    2 : to withdraw (oneself) from residence in or allegiance to one’s native country-intransitive verb : to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere; also : to renounce allegiance to one’s native country

    — ex·pa·tri·ate \-??t, -?t\ noun
    — ex·pa·tri·a·tion \(?)ek-?sp?-tr?-??-sh?n\ noun

    Main Entry: im·mi·grant
    Pronunciation: \?i-m?-gr?nt\
    Function: noun
    Date: 1789

    : one that immigrates: as a : a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence b : a plant or animal that becomes established in an area where it was previously unknown

    — immigrant adjective

  9. Very interesting article indeed. Good read.

    But, I am curious about something here concerning the definition of expat.

    How come a successful LEGAL business person or professional from a Latin American country, India, China or Pakistan (for example) are NEVER called an expat?

    They are always referred to as immigrants.

    Yet, any educated or non-educated Canadian, American or European are ALWAYS called expats?

    I have relatives that moved to Canada from Belize within the past 20 years and they are known as legal immigrants and not expats.

    Why is this so? Just curious….

    some food for thought….

    cheers….

  10. I agree on both Todd.

  11. WHAT A GREAT STORY WITH A HAPPY ENDING. WISH I WAS THERE 20 YEARS AGO.

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