For a fleeting moment as I drove east on Caribena Street in San Pedro, Belize, I had a blinding flashback to an old lost friend, Monkey Bob.
Some of you may remember our earliest travel companion in Belize. He went where we went and never complained. Until he mysteriously disappeared without so much as a “See ya!”
Looking at this sad excuse for a primate, I could almost see an older, disheveled , more-alcoholic Monkey Bob behind those blood-shot eyes.
But no. It was not our Bob.
I stopped anyway. I don’t know why. I’ve seen characters like this around town before. Sleeping it off in wheelbarrows. Hungover in the shade of a palm tree. Weaving down the road with a half-filled soda bottle of high octane home brew.
It was January 2 already, for Cripes sake. Had he been partying like it was still 2015 all this time?
Naturally I needed to take a picture.
That’s when James popped up.
The little man with angelic eyes looked up at me and said, “You going to take a picture?”
“Sure,” is said, holding up my trusty Apple iPod.
“Then put some money in the cup,” said the eight-year-old, only slightly hardening that sweet little smile.
“Money?” I asked, incredulously but a bit stupidly, as his directions had been crystal clear.
“Uh huh, in the cup. He pointed to an empty plastic rum punch glass in front of the drunken monkey.
Was it worth it, I wondered? Aw, yeah. What the hell. The kids an entrepreneur. He’ll probably be mayor of San Pedro some day and will remember me as a welsher if I shoot and run.
So I took a pic and dropped 60 cents into the cup and hopped back into my golf cart.
I swear I heard James let out a scornful “Meh!” as he looked into the cup.
By the time I got home, my good friend Adam Feldman had already posted the exact same picture on his Facebook page. There will be more, I assure you. I noticed that James varies the pose of his drunken monkey from time to time.
I bet Adam gave the kid a buck. “Yes, we gave him a donation for his work of art!!! Nothing like creativity matched with entrepreneurship,” said Adam. No wonder James acted like I was some cheap piker.
James will be mayor some day. At the very least, he’ll own half of San Pedro.
I can’t wait for his presentation when school reopens: “What I did on my Christmas vacation ….”
This is Belize.
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