A Bad Day in Belize Is Better Than a Good Day in Bakersfield

I've never actually been to Bakersfield, so wisdom might dictate that I shouldn't make sweeping statements about whether days in Bakersfield are good or bad. But wisdom wouldn't dare dictate anything to me again, not after last time when it tried to get me to "stop riding the Ripstik down the stairs," and in response I tore out its larynx with my bare hands and ate it with Cool Whip.

"Tah-dah!" Taken before she realized that both mosquitos and sharks want her dead. (Caye Ambergris, Belize; Nov 2016)

It's pretty awesome that I'm only just now getting around to telling a story about when I was in Belize. I was in Belize like 2 months ago, but my life is so full and whole and meaningful and uncontrollably jam-packed with incredible selfie opportunities -- which I forgo because I don't want the whole world to leap into oncoming traffic after realizing the hopelessness of trying to have as great a life as me -- that I haven't really had time to relate any Belize stories.

But here's one: after we arrived on a Belizean island and pulled up to our rental home beside the ocean, it started to rain. It rained all day, and the wind howled, and lightning flashed and thunder crashed for good measure. It was kind of cold, down in the 70s. My kids were like, "This is ridiculous. We only go swimming when its 88 with light to moderate winds, preferably out of the southeast." So they sat inside watching Little Giants on satellite TV, because for some reason channel 412 kept playing it on repeat.

By lunchtime I had had enough. "I am going to town for lunch!" I declared. "Do any of you losers want to come?" Shannon suggested we just have PB&J for lunch, because that would be "cheaper" and "dryer." But she conveniently failed to mention that it would be "lamer than tying and untying and then re-tying one's shoes over and over." I flatly refused. "Never! I drove for 14 hours and then sat on a boat for 2 more hours so I could hang out on this stupid island! I am going to town for lunch! I am not going to watch Little Giants any longer! Although I did rather enjoy the part where Rick Moranis falls off the porch when he sees that one hot lady!"

As I was about to head out alone into the horizontal rain, the most unlikely family member piped up. "Wait! Dad! I'll come!" Savannah is nearly 14 years old, and she dislikes going outside and having leprosy about the same. But here she was, volunteering to ride for forty-five minutes through the rain on a golf cart over bumpy, muddy dirt roads. Because all we had was a golf cart and there was no pavement on our end of the island.

So off we went. We were soaked within a couple minutes because, if you've never seen a golf cart, they don't really protect you from anything except for going more than like 4 mph. I was in a hurry because I was hungry and also because I was worried about running out of things to talk about with a 14 year old, so I really floored it. But after bopping and rollicking down the road and splashing heavily through immense mud bogs for about 5 minutes, the golf cart quit. "My bad," I said to Savannah, because most things are my bad, including the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon; unbeknownst to most casual observers, I ate the last known Passenger Pigeon in 1993, believing it was an ugly pheasant. 

Southern San Pedro from the water taxi (Caye Ambergris, Belize; Nov 2016)

We gamely looked underneath the seat at the motor to see if the problem was something obvious, like a wild boar stuck in the drive shaft. But it wasn't. So me and Savannah stood ankle-deep in a mud bog in the rain, looking at the motor, wishing there were a squealing boar in there. You know, just doing some father-daughter bonding.

Pretty soon a local drove by on his golf cart and politely stopped to help. He said he owns a dredging company, which is kind of a lame thing to own, unlike sunflower seeds, which is a neat thing to own. The guy poked around the motor a little bit before declaring that the problem was that the spark plug was quite wet, at which point he asked me if I had been driving sufficiently slowly through the mud puddles. I denied doing anything so feminine as driving a golf cart slowly, and the local said that's probably why we were stalled in the mud in a tropical downpour. "My bad," I said.

After walking through mud and rain for 45 minutes to find a phone, calling a repairman, and getting a new spark plug installed in our cart, me and Savannah finally reached town, about 2.5 hours after leaving the house. We ate in an ice box of a restaurant where an old guy in a sombrero, who was already slightly drunk despite the hour being only 4 pm, was making passes at a couple of overweight women crammed into children's-sized shorts and what I believe were ace bandages that the women had mistaken for halter tops. To keep our minds off the mutant romance blossoming at the bar, me and Savannah discussed the New Jersey shark attacks of 1916. "So why did the shark keep attacking people?" Savannah wanted to know. "Because sharks can think of only one thing, day and night, every moment of their lives, and that is the succulence of human blood," I answered, before adding, "Let's go snorkeling tomorrow."

Because the southern end of the island where our house was located is mostly just one big bog, especially after the rain, on the way home in the golf cart mosquitos completely ate us. Nom nom nom. We died, but were reincarnated immediately as ourselves, which I think somewhat disappointed us both. I can't speak for Savannah, but I was hoping to be Sid Vicious next time around. All in all, the bad day was a lot of fun. I feel like Savannah will want to do a lot of other things with me as she gets older. Clearly, I am the creator of good bad days. 

Our house was about 5 miles from town, over roads that looked like this. (Caye Ambergris, Belize; Nov 2016)