The day we met Fish Johnson: Our first grocery shopping experience on the beach in Belize.
We went for a run on the beach on a cloudy Monday afternoon. On the way back to the condo we met a man with a cooler – his name was Fish Johnson. Based on his name, we new his game was selling fish. He was riding a bike with a large cooler on the front and proudly wearing a white t-shirt with not only his name “Fish Johnson” but his phone number and his picture. This guy knows how to market! We asked what he was selling and he proudly opened the cooler to show us his catch of the day – he pulled out bags of fresh crab claws and crab legs as well as fresh lobster.
We told him we had no idea how to cook crabs or lobster, so Fish Johnson proceeded to give us a cooking lesson – right there on the beach under the palms.
“Oh cooking crab’s easy babe. Gotta boil the water, toss em in and wait till they turn bright red babe” – ok cool. But how long (approximately) is that we’re wondering – 5 minutes? 10 minutes?. Mr. Fish says again “not long at all” as he proceeds to show us the color red in Lisa’s running shoe – “when they turn this color red, babe – pull em out and you ready to go”. He continued to say we could toss them in the boiling water, take a shower, and when we get out they will be ready.
Ok Fish Johnson. You have made a sale. (by the way, is it a bad sign when the guy selling fish tells you that you need a shower?)
Cookin’ crab’s easy, babe
We told him that we were out for a run and would love to buy some fish, but didn’t have any money. Fish Johnson had a solution. He told us no problem. Go ahead and take whatever you want, which came out to about $30 US – “you take it and pay later babe” (Lisa loved that he was finishing most of his sentences with babe). Just leave the money at the front desk at Grand Caribe and he’ll swing by later.
Perfect. Now this is shopping – we now have a credit line with Fish Johnson. There were no applications to complete or collateral to promise. Just Belizean hospitality and trust in your fellow man (or joggers in our case). We were a little reluctant to take on credit since we worked so hard to get rid of all of our debit. But despite our hesitation, we had more hunger than concern for our credit score. (Sorry Dave Ramsey)
We return to our condo to gather the money for Fish Johnson and promptly bring it down to the front desk (because we wanted to satisfy our loan requirements quickly). So we left the cash at the desk with a sticky note: “Money for Fish Johnson”. The girls at the front desk, in their cutest Belizean accent clarified, “His name is Fish Johnson?”. Yup.
We take our purchase home and proceed with figuring out how to cook it. But we quickly realized we were missing the most important ingredient – butter! So off we go in our golf cart for the one mile, 45 minute bumpy, dusty drive, drive down to the store to pick up the “essentials”.
Thanks to our friends on Facebook and a YouTube video on how to broil lobster tails, as well as Fish Johnson’s detailed cooking tips, our dinner was a complete success. We even showered like Fish Johnson suggested. We aren’t sure if it helped, but at least we were clean for dinner. Will it turn out this great the next time we try it? Who knows – but what we do know is that anytime we see a guy with a cooler we always find out what types of food treasures he has inside.
A year has passed since we first met Fish Johnson. Once we moved here full-time our first order of business was to find Fish Johnson and buy more food. After a quick inquiry we had discovered he had passed away just prior to our arrival.
Mr. Johnson, you will be missed.