Unfortunately, the snakes that were bothering us recently were the human variety rather than the reptile variety. While we were at the Zoo on Friday, the British Army was scheduled to come and remove the rest of the cage panels to deliver them to the Zoo. We didn’t see what could really go wrong with just loading up the caging and taking it out, so we didn’t really think much of it. However, after finishing the generator hut on Saturday, Tom, Damion, and some of the kids jumped in the truck and drove up the road to take a dip at Big Rock. As Tom drove by one of our neighbors, he noticed a whole pile of big cage panels stacked next to the neighbor’s car. He mentioned it to Damion, who told him that the neighbor had come onto our property on Friday and taken some of the caging. At this point, after saying the Zoo could have it and watching the Zoo work so hard for two weeks to cut it down and stack it, we don’t consider the cage material ours, but we weren’t going to stand by and let it walk away from here. So, after swimming and taking the neighbors home, Tom went to talk to the neighbor with the cage panels.
The story he got from the neighbor is that the British Army guys told him to take it because they didn’t want to move it. Tom explained that not only was it not the Army’s to give away, but that it wasn’t really even ours to give away, and that the Zoo crew had cut a specific number of panels needed for the tapir enclosure they’re building at the Zoo. The neighbor said he couldn’t bring it back because he didn’t have a truck, but Tom made arrangements to help him with our truck Sunday afternoon, which is what they did, and eight panels were returned.
Then, Sunday night, we were talking to our neighbors on the corner and told them what had happened, and they asked if the panels taken by another neighbor in the other direction had been returned. We didn’t even know that more panels had been taken, and the first neighbor didn’t even bother to tell us! So, Tom went to the other neighbor first thing Monday morning, saw the panels, explained the situation, and asked that they be returned, which they were – although that happened in two batches because five were returned, and when Tom confronted the first neighbor and asked how many panels had been taken, he said eight or nine, so Tom had to go back to the second neighbor to see if there were any more, and three more came back that afternoon.
The ringleader neighbor maintains that he wasn’t stealing and it wasn’t his fault because the British Army told him he could take the caging, but we’re not buying that story. As far as we know, British martial law has not been declared in Belize, and the British forces have no right to tell somebody they can do something with another private citizen’s property. We can’t quite figure out what the neighbor was thinking, thinking it was okay to take something off our property without our permission. And, the fact that he brought back his eight pieces and neglected to tell us that he’d delivered eight more to another neighbor is inexcusable – although when Tom confronted him about that, he said he was going to talk to the other neighbor and have them bring it back, but he just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. My reaction was “My ass!” but fortunately Tom is a little more mature, so he just calmly expressed his displeasure with the neighbor and told him he thought he should be a man and accept responsibility, which I don’t think is going to happen. What is going to happen is that we’ll now lock the gate when nobody is here, and probably even when just Selwyn is here so he doesn’t have to be put in the position of protecting our property. And, the other thing that’s happening is that when we tell this story to people around here, and they tell us that they warned us that we can’t trust “these people,” meaning native Belizeans, we can deliver the punch line and tell them that the snakey neighbors are gringos, not Belizeans, and maybe they should just get over their racism. Gringos can be snakes too.