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Sonny + Annette is Part 1 of a series chronicling my summer of love with Captain in Belize. Stay tuned…
The chimes and bells rang as I scurried up the steps and through the door of The Placencia Bazaar.
A petite, sun-drenched blonde sat comfortably at the counter and said hello.
“Hi.” I smiled.
I scanned the local artwork on the walls, paintings, post cards and pottery.
It was a bazaar full of tchotchkes and, I would come to find out, love.
“How long have you lived in Belize?” I asked.
“It’s been twenty years,” she said in an accent often confused with South Africans and Aussies.
“I’m from New Zealand.”
Belize was a recommendation from friends she was staying with in Santa Cruz, California.
As I rummaged through a box of $1 books, flipping through Let The Great World Spin, I became happily distracted by her story.
“May I take a seat?”
I squeezed into the step stool and listened to how the breeze blew this Kiwi to Belize.
“I came here on holiday for two weeks. I was on a bus trip in another part of the country where I met a Swiss girl and we came to Placencia.”
After a few days on the beach, the two 30somethings went to the Cozy Corner disco for the $1 rum punch.
“I had never had rum before,” she laughed. “It tasted like Kool-Aid.”
After a few more glasses of “Kool-Aid,” Sonny said hello.
“He’s rather cute,” Annette’s friend nudged.
“Do you want to switch seats with me? Have at him?” she offered.
Annette wasn’t looking for love. She was escaping it. The 4-year, forbidden love with her Australian beau had ended and she was committed to a season of solitude.
“I had to leave the country. It was the only way I could leave him,” she said of the sign writer she had fallen for.
“I came here for the meat pies and the Caribbean Sea.”
In Sonny, a strapping Creole sitting beside her at the bar, she found a lot more.
“He still never ceases to amaze me,” she looked away, almost surprised.
“Really? After all these years?” I asked.
“You know what it is? He’s not predictable; you just never know what he’s gonna say.”
“Familiarity breeds contempt,” she warned me.
And Nette, as he endearingly called her, was careful not to become familiar with Sonny, nor he with her. He treated her like a queen since the night they first met.
Patting her back and holding her hair back as she threw up in the sand.
“ I was digging a hole on the beach to vomit in. I just kept digging and throwing up.”
The rum got the best of Nette and Sonny had seen the worst of his future bride.
“He started digging the sand for me and patting my back. I was so sick I just kept vomiting and all of a sudden…I farted.”
Sonny carried a thoroughly embarrassed Nette to her door and asked her to dinner.
Sick to her stomach, she thought, “If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.”
Sonny and Annette live in Placencia, Belize in the home he built for her when they married 20 years ago.