Saturday afternoon, the Texas-based singer Kelly McGuire was commanding the stage at the Dive Bar singing about island life, broken dreams, healing hearts, fresh hopes, sailing away and the joy of a good guitar.
We were sitting at the back of the crowd, next to the dock, where the cool breezes were floating in on the rippling blue Caribbean.
Everyone was enjoying the island’s latest sensation. No, not Kelly. He comes every year to celebrate his birthday and pay homage to the island that has inspired many of his best songs and to one of his heroes, Jimmy Buffett, who used to come down here quite often, I’m told.
No, the island’s latest sensation is Landshark beer on tap. Suddenly taps are showing up in bars all over the island. Next will come serving beer by the pitcher, but as the Dive Bar’s owner Doug said, “We have to solve the problem of the beer growing warm too quickly.”
Somebody mentioned a container that keeps liquid cold for seven hours.
One of the more astute pipped in, ” If you have a pitcher of beer sitting on the table for seven hours, you’re doing something wrong.”
Landshark is, ironically enough, a Jimmy Buffett brew, sold at his Margaritaville restaurants, I’m told. A lager. Light enough for the tropics. Refreshing, not overly memorable. Does the trick. It is in Belize now because Norwegian Cruise Lines has a Margaritaville restaurant on its Harvest Caye playground. It is brewed in-country by Bowen & Bowen, which also produces the ubiquitous Belikin beer.
Anybody who serves Landshark by the pitcher to a table in the Caribbean won’t have to worry about it going warm.
So, anyhow, there we are sipping Landshark, enjoying Kelly McGuire, diplomatically avoiding any talk of the insanity enveloping America — when a crack rang out down the beach. It sounded like a pistol shot. Heads around me snapped up and all like a pack picking up on the same scent turned south.
Sure enough, down the beach, there on the seawall stood a police officer. And in the water in front of him was a guy wading out to sea.
Yeah, wadding. The water hardly gets above four feet all the way out to the reef.
It had the markings of a fugitive chase.
The officer didn’t have a gun drawn. He stood there twirling a baton, the springy kind that extracts confessions and leaves nasty welts.
He pulled up his cellphone and without taking an eye off the guy in the water, called for backup. Then he casually strolled up the beach toward us.
Maybe “chase” isn’t the right word.
There was no rush. The guy in the water was hardly breaking any of Michael Phelps’ speed records as he wadded and swam out toward the reef and then up the coast. A few boats sped by, including a water taxi which someone said he was trying to hail. Hard to tell. All I could see was a head bobbing in the distance, slowly moving north.
The officer strolled up past us, a congenial smile on his face, baton loping in the easy twirl of an experienced hand. He casually walked up the Dive Bar’s dock, watching the head-bobbing fugitive a few hundred yards off the end of the pier, slowly pulling away. A second officer showed up and they were clearly trying to decide if they should just keep walking up the coast of Ambergris Caye until the man tired enough to come in.
The solution came from Sea Star Belize, the dive and touring operation connected to the Dive Bar. Doug fired up one of his dive boats , the two cops boarded and they lazily pulled out from shore.
A moment later an angry guy in a white t-shirt, brandishing a club, runs up the dock yelling for them to wait.
Kelly, meanwhile, keeps on singing about footprints in the sand and tears on the sea. Or something like that. I was a little distracted.
Angry guy runs up the shore and disappears into the bush.
The boat sidles up between the swimmer and the shore the cops and land him like a fish. Last seen, he was being walked down a nearby dock in cuffs.
Somebody says, “Well, that was interesting.”
Kelly’s singing about a “Boat in Belize” and the attention turns back to him as if nothing more than flock of pelicans had gracefully swooped by.
And the Landshark didn’t even have time to grow warm.