An Unforgettable Night
e pulled out of Corozal, a beautiful coastal town nestled in the northern region of the country of Belize, in Alex’s 1986 white Hyundai. Axel and Jazy, our two German Shepherd dogs, were both sitting in the backseat enjoying their trip back to Belize City, while Alex and I sat in the front seat, quite contented that we were leaving Corozal at 7:00 p.m., relatively early compared to other times.
We were about thirty minutes from the neighboring town, Orange Walk, when quite casually while flipping through the radio stations we heard something that caught our attention.
“Couples out there, here is your chance to do something exciting. We are asking you to come to our studio and have the opportunity to win some prizes by bearing your heart and soul to your partner on national radio,” boomed the disc jockey.
I turned to look at Alex only to find him biting his lower lip and looking at me. He asked, “What do you think?” There was that gleam in his eyes, which meant he was up to something.
“Why not? We don’t have anything to lose,” I responded, feeling the blood coursing through my veins faster now that there was excitement in the air. After all, this would be a new experience, and new experiences have a way of making my head heady.
There we were. Hair flying in the air, throwing caution to the wind, teasing the speed bumps as we raced, eager to reach our goal. Axel and Jazy must have wondered why their ears were flapping in the wind. And surely Christine (that’s the car) moaned when she was shoved into fifth gear.
Orange Walk welcomed us with bright lights, people strolling the streets, and cart vendors selling snow cones, ice-cream, boiled corn and produce so typical of this town. Smells of baked bread, tamales, and rice and beans permeated the air. The town was serene, oblivious to the wonderful secret we had happened to stumble upon.
When we finally arrived at the radio station, we expected to see cars parked out front or people marking their territory. But there weren’t any. We were escorted into the radio station and eventually into the disc jockey’s booth. He briefly introduced himself and thrust a microphone into Alex’s hand, telling him he would be on the air in five seconds. Before Alex could catch his breath, he was told to give five reasons why he loved me. Well, Mr. Wonderful must have had prior coaching because he did an outstanding job. Then, the microphone was shoved into my hands. There I was, speechless. Nevertheless, the DJ informed us that we had won a gift certificate from De Burgess, a famous boutique in Orange Walk, and were to pick up our gifts later in the week. We were still reveling in our little stunt as we stepped outside.
About ten minutes out of town, puffy clouds of smoke were streaming out of the car’s hood and being released into the darkness of the night. Alex pulled to the side of the highway and opened the hood. Steam shot out of the radiator, throwing the radiator cap in the air. We heard the cap reverberating in the stillness of the night as it landed on the highway, but here we were in the middle of nowhere, without a flashlight, groping in the darkness looking for the radiator cap. We had to get down on all fours and practically clean the highway with our bare hands in search of this object, which would determine whether we would go on or not. Meanwhile, Axel and Jazy looked at us quite contented, pleased with the turn of events.
After much groping around, we found the cap on the other side of the highway. Apparently, the radiator had overheated and needed water. Well, we continued on our journey cautiously this time. There we were, going at about five miles an hour, feeling like two sailors lost at sea, searching for a water pipe so that we could fill up the radiator tank.
Finally, about a mile into our journey, we spotted a pipe on the right side of the highway. Alex decided that he would park the car and walk to the pipe, which was a bit in the grass. I protested and told him it would be easier to take the car to the pipe. He, not wanting to upset Miss Capricious, decided to take my advice. After all, there was a dirt road from the highway to the pipe.
Just when we were about to reach the pipe, the car stalled. It would not go any further. Little did we know that the earth was soft and that we were stuck in the mud. We got out of the vehicle and were surprised to see the white car covered in mud. We decided that I would rev the car and Alex would push the vehicle out of the mud. We were quite a sight! Two dogs in the backseat jerking forward and backward, one mad woman cursing a vehicle that wouldn’t budge, and one lonely soul pushing the car frantically. The harder we tried, the deeper the car sank into the mud.
We gave up. Our next decision then was whether I should stay while Alex went to get help or if I should go with him and risk having the dogs follow us. We decided on the former. He set out like a beggar in the night, while there I was in the dead of the night all alone, with two dogs imagining that all the creatures of the night were peering at me ready to pounce at the slightest movement. My heart was racing and my veins were pounding in my brain. It was not as if I could start the engine and drive off if anything threatened the still of the night.
After what seemed like an eternity, Alex returned with a man driving a red, four-door Toyota truck. He seemed quite friendly and helpful. We took the dogs out of the car, and the man proceeded to pull the vehicle out of the mud. Christine was now black but was very relieved to be out of this predicament.
We bid farewell to our helpful stranger and were on our way once again. About a mile later, the car stalled again. Apparently, the jerking and manhandling had upset Christine’s equilibrium so that the only way she would move was if we stopped at intervals of about every five miles to give her water.
I guess there were some gods on our side, because there were enough little streams along the way to fuel Christine. After about twenty stops we finally got home after midnight. A trip that should have lasted an hour and a half had taken us into the following day. We were tired and exhausted, but happy.
About a week later, we went to pick up our gifts. One handkerchief for Alex, and one hairbrush for me. I made sure I chose the most expensive hairbrush. Well, so much for our gifts from the boutique. Despite these unrewarding gifts for our efforts, the public declaration of love was worth the trouble we went through that fateful day.
Now, almost three years later, Christine is no longer with us. The experience that night remains unforgettable, for nothing quite like this has happened to us since then . . . Not that I want to test the gods!