This is Belize: When all goes right, the life you save may be that of a cell phone

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Somewhere in the dark and the rain along the rugged main road south from San Pedro Town, my friend Clive Brewster’s phone tumbled out of his pocket and skittered away in the blackness.

He didn’t even notice.

He was pretty busy steering his golf cart rumbling, stumbling, and trumbling, and sloshing in, around, and through ruts and bumps and deep rocky valleys in the road, in the rain.

The South Ambergris Caye road is so bad, I always feel a special appreciation when I see South island friends in town or up north at Marbucks  for a Thursday night Wine Down.

It isn’t just a journey. It’s a commitment.

But the next morning, when he realized the phone was gone, a sense of what might of happened began to dawn, as he sat watching the sun was rising over the barrier reef in front of him.

A logical and methodical man — and by nature an extremely optimistic one — Clive drew up a plan for finding his phone.

He would walk back up the road, scanning from side to side. It was early yet. There was still hope that it would be lying by the wayside somewhere.

The first thing he encountered were the puddles, enormous deep murky brown puddles,  as many as two and three, side-by-side, cratering the road. In some stretches during the rainy season, there is more  deep water than road. So, Clive borrowed his wife Janet’s phone.

Every time he reached a cluster of puddles he called himself.

If indeed it still worked, Clive reasoned, the phone would send up vibrations from the murky depths and the vibrations would morph into ripples and the ripples would alert Clive to the presence of his rat-drowned phone. Kind of like finding the black box on a downed aircraft. With about as much hope, too.

So Clive slowly worked his way up the road, retracing his path left and right, pausing periodically to call himself and scanning the puddles for signs of life.

At some point in this northbound exercise Clive noticed a familiar face, a man walking in the opposite direction. David Thompson was someone Clive would often encounter with a smile and a wave as he bicycled north to his daily workout at the Train Station gymnasium. And normally, David was also on a bicycle.

Clive hailed him. “By any chance did you find a phone this morning?”

David pulled off his knapsack and pulled out a tightly wrapped towel.

“As a matter of fact, I did.”

David explained: “Just a few minutes ago I was passing this puddle, and the water started to vibrate. I reached in and found this!”

It was Clive’s phone.

Clive’s plan had worked! It just required the assistance of another pedestrian — and a cascading confluence of unlikely circumstances — what we often call “luck,” I guess.

Clive thanked him, then added, “don’t you usually ride a bicycle?”

David did indeed bicycle to work, but this morning his tire was not only flat but rendered unfixable from tread worn as thin as the elbows on a tweed jacket.

So he was walking.

Which is why he found the phone.

Clive immediately offered to get new tires for his bike and by the next morning the two bicyclists David and Clive were again hailing each other with hearty waves and wide grins — perhaps heartier and wider than when they were strangers — as they flew by each other.

Kind of a post script

The phone, of course, stopped working as soon as Clive got it home.

It had, after all, been immersed in muck for hours. It was as if it had clung to life just long enough to be rescued at sea, only to die in the arms of a loved one from technological hypothermia.

But in another set of happy circumstances, a house guest of Clive and Janet’s was a big fan of resuscitating wet phones by immersing them in microwaved rice, hot and dry. Five one-hour immersions later, Clive’s phone sprang to life.

So, there is a phone god. And rice immersion, apparently, is not mythology.

And, this is Belize.

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Editor’s note: “This is Belize” is an occasional series within the “Bound for Belize” blog. It highlights the sometimes goofy, quirky, strange, frustrating, bewildering, heartwarming or sweet things that happen to us and which put a light on the Belizean outlook and spirit.
The title comes from a 20-year resident of Belize and long-time friend, Steve Thompson. When things happen here that are beyond Steve’s control or comprehension, he simply sighs and utters, mantra like, “This is Belize.” And he finds acceptance within, while warding off cynicism.
If you have experiences/stories that might leave you whispering “This is Belize,” send them to me so we can share! My e-mail is

6 thoughts on “This is Belize: When all goes right, the life you save may be that of a cell phone

    Rob Chodowski said:
    July 8, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Loved this article. See you in two weeks.


    tacogirl said:
    July 8, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Huge fan of rice trick, revived a camera that way. I even store some electronics in it that I do not use often to help their shelf life. Great story.


    Denise Post said:
    July 8, 2016 at 9:59 am

    That was such a Wonderful and Happy Story Bob. Made me smile!


    Julia S Smith said:
    July 8, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Great story! And yes, rice works! My son dropped his phone in the pool when we were in Maui and it sunk to the bottom. He retrieved it and we kept it in rice for two straight days. Phone still works today! Love how he helped the other guy out too. 🙂 I think that is what I like about Belize. People still care about one another. 🙂


    Phil and Tess said:
    July 8, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    How many people would see a murky puddle vibrating on a road down here and have the guts/curiosity to investigate? David gets the Sherlock Award.


    Michele Murphy said:
    July 8, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Yeah for Clive!! He is a great guy and this tale is a fun read.


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