In answer to your first question — hey, it is everybody’s first question: Yes, I did lock the golf cart.
I always lock the golf cart.
Because I don’t want it to get stolen.
It was stolen Saturday night.
And, yes, it was locked.
It is still stolen. Or missing. However you want to phrase it.
To me, if it is still stolen, that means it has been cut up for parts and they are already being redistributed for resale throughout the lovely little town of Placencia, in Southern coastal Belize.
If it is merely missing , then some local swiped it to joy ride home and it is sitting on the side of the road somewhere on the lagoon side of the island.
Or, some drunken gringo got into the cart and drove it back to the resort where he is staying and was too embarrassed to tell anyone and so just left it in the parking lot.
These scenarios are among the many I have heard since discovering that the cart was no longer parked in front of the Lions Club in downtown San Pedro at 10 p.m. on Saturday night.
Didn’t that put a damper on an otherwise fun-filled night at the Lobsterfest 2015 Block Party in Central Park and the impromptu Steve & Steve birthday bash at Lola’s Pub.
We made our way to the police department were the first of many conversations there began like this:
“My golf cart has been stolen.”
“Was it locked?”
The desk officer wrote the specifics down on a blank sheet of paper and then told me to return in the morning to file a formal report.
Specifically, it is about the ugliest golf cart on the island of Ambergris Caye. The roof is falling apart — I was looking for a new one — and is held together with duct tape. Lots and lots of duct tape. (One friend, I’ll call him a wag because he’s full of cart jokes at the moment, suggested the cart was stolen for the duct tape. Possible, but most unlikely.)
A long, arcing crack in the windshield is held together with Frankenstein-like plastic ties . . . and duct tape.
It has some faded Moncho’s cart rental logos on the side because that was the original owner. And it is still marked as Cart #59. I mean, if you were stealing a car in the States, would you go after a beat up old Avis or Hertz rental? Hell, no!
And it just looks old and dirty. Because, well, it is.
Who would want to steal something like that when there are some really cool looking carts parked up and down the streets of San Pedro?
I dunno. Was it locked.
Yes, it was locked.
Maybe that was the problem.
The lock was a bit old, a bit rusty and, just maybe, a bit vulnerable. It is a running joke on the island that virtually any golf cart key will start any other golf cart — thus many drunken tourists involved in cases of mistaken identity and grand theft golf cartery. A screw driver will start any cart. A butter knife. A very log and strong finger nail. A . . . well, you get the picture.
It doesn’t take much to steal a golf cart in San Pedro. Which is why everybody has an opinion on the matter. If their cart hasn’t been stolen. They know somebody’s that has.
Popular neighborhoods in which to “find” your lost cart? San Pedrito, San Mateo, DFC, San Juan. . . .A policeman suggested I bicycle around Escalante, because that is apparently a popular drop off area. Another friend confirmed that Escalante has some obscure “lagoon roads,” beside which a boat can pull right up and receive the stripped parts from a cart, then pull out and head for Placencia.
Now that is market efficiency and organization.
No matter. I cruised around many of these places on my bicycle and came up empty.
Here’s what else I have done:
- I sat in the police department on Sunday from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. in hopes of filing a stolen vehicle report. I was successfully ignored but told to “be patient” several times. I gave up and left. Upon returning at 2 p.m. a young officer quickly and professionally took my information and typed up a statement which I signed. He even passed on the information to another officer who was heading out the door.
- I made up small flyers which I handed out to taxi drivers — several people suggested taxis are the most likely to find a missing cart as they drive around. I had mixed success with that. One said my $50 reward for information was “too cheap.” He was laughing so maybe it was a joke. Another asked if, on top of my detailed description, I had a picture. I know he was kidding.
- I handed a flyer to Jaime from Bowen & Bowen and asked if he and his colleagues could keep an eye out while running their beverage distribution routes.
- I gave a flyer to Damon at the toll bridge who said he would carry the information to the transportation department which was meeting last night.
- I gave a flyer to Jose Jr. at Maria’s Produce stand and he offered to spread the word.
- I placed an ad in the San Pedro Sun, which comes out on Thursday.
- I told Martin and his colleagues at Moncho’s Cart Rental, just in case someone reported finding it to them.
- And I just rode around and around, up and down streets, in and out of neighborhoods, looking very very sad.
I discovered a few things: this island becomes a whole lot bigger when you are looking for something; people are generally nice and ready to offer advice and share their own experiences (once they confirm that I did indeed lock up the cart); there are some very interesting parts of Ambergris Caye of which I know close to nothing.
If the cart is recovered we’ll both be very happy and relieved. More so Rose than me, as she is dependent on the cart to get to and from Pilates very quickly. I’m back on the bicycle more than I have been and that is a good thing, health-wise.
My impulse is to conclude with some thoughtful meditation on possessions, poverty, chance, circumstances, alcohol, the better nature of humans and whatever but, nope. Stealing is stealing, be it a drunken tourist or a young island kid. When I find you, and the cart, I will kick your ass.
After you tell me how you got the cart unlocked.
Post script: Just kidding about the ass-kicking. That is not an option at my age. So, to get us all back in the proper paradisaical frame of mind I leave you with these two photographs of orchids in my neighborhood. In a way, they remind me of the amazing lion fish out in our barrier reef.
My favorite Buddhist story of the moment:
Maybe (Taoist story)
An old farmer had worked his crops for many years.
One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.