Leaving Belize

Part Nine // Final Days

The sun returns

The following days unfolded to the fury of a Category 4 hurricane. We managed well enough with our accommodations despite being moved several times to different rooms at the Great House due to invading water and high winds. Eventually we are moved by Steve to The Radisson Fort George across the street for safety reasons. We spent a total of four unplanned nights in Belize City, but although this hurricane had scared the wits out of us, we were well taken care of by others in various kind ways. The Radisson offered us half price meals as well as lodging while we stayed with them. They ran a backup generator from the time we lost electrical power until 6 days after Hurricane Keith had lost most of his steam. Dining by candle light is very romantic during a hurricane, we laughed. We enjoyed a great 4 piece band from Guatemala who happened to be performing that week at the hotel and like us, did not escape the storms path, so they performed each night in the dining room playing beautiful pan flute and guitar music. It crazily brought to mind the sinking of the Titanic …… music before all is lost. Our families went five days with no news from us, but thankfully they never fully realized the danger we were in.

Eventually we made our way to Houston, rented a very small U-Haul truck, picked up our Belizean wood crates and pointed ourselves North to no where in particular after flipping a coin. It felt different being back on native soil, yet somewhere in our hearts Belize remained.

It was many months later that word reached us that the Yachter’s were both arrested by the FBI late one dark and sultry night as they slept on their yacht the “Emerald Isle”. The story played out they were tracked down and charged with crimes of extortion, fraud, conspiracy and money laundering, to a sum of over $160 million dollars. Jim was sentenced to 40 years in a Federal prison and Marni was handed a 3 year visit to a womens prison somewhere in Tennessee. We never received notice to appear before the FBI or anyone else. But we know our names are on paper somewhere, someplace. I got a call one day from a reporter with the St. Louis Dispatcher asking us for a phone interview. Somehow along the way he found our names. He was very willing to share information with us, having written all the newspaper stories on these two convicts from the beginning of their history nearly 10 years before we met them. It always rang in the back of my mind of the comment Marni had said to me, that they were from Maine. But where was the Eastern accent, I always wondered. It turned out they were from St. Louis, Missiouri, just a few hundred miles from our launch pad in Kansas.

It was ironic how our paths crossed and what tied us together at the end. The two parcels of land we had sold to the now convicted felons, were eventually sold and a lovely island home was built. I was glad to know the house was never given the name of Sea Joy. So there you have it Readers. A near thrilling ending of what began as a dream but was never caught; in a way, for both us as well as Jim and Marni. It’s possible this story holds all the right ingredients for a best seller …. danger, crime, money and greed. So remember dear Readers, always ….  Be Careful What You Wish For.

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A few Hurricane Keith statistics

September 28 – October 6, 2000

Catagory 4 Hurricane

137 mph winds

Extensive damage to Mexico and Belize (including costal islands of Belize)

68 fatalities

$135 million in damages

6 thoughts on “Leaving Belize

  1. Good story. The Jim and Marni case was a surprising twist, although I knew something smelled funny from the start. When someone floats up and offers you a boat-load of money, there’s bound to be something going on. You got what you wanted, and they got what they deserved.

    I still wish you had written about the time spent between arrival and departure. You leave us knowing nothing about what it is like to live in Belize.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ray // Thank you for your thoughts. We didn’t get a boat load of money for the land sale, lol, in hindsight we should have sold higher. We felt fortunate to sell the land before leaving and not having it take years to sell as some land does there. As for writing a story about our time living there, I’ll save that for another time perhaps.

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  2. Yes, you do have the makings of a great book!! I can certainly well remember the shock I was in when those many years ago I was following the weather and heard that the hurricane had stalled over your Belieze Island!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Felipe // There have been many stories like this written about unlawful folks who head to the Caribbean to escape justice for their wrong doings. We were just bystanders caught in part of it. And we came away with a strong respect for hurricane weather.

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