GALES POINT, Belize - On the day after his 72nd birthday - April 12 - Bruce Minnick waded bare-bottomed into chilly Quamina Creek. We had just trekked several miles over rugged terrain, deep into the jungle in eastern Belize, to visit his longtime friend, Dorthea Shaw, who was living on his property.
The water made for good drinking and was clear enough to observe schools of minnow-like fish called billum nibbling at his lean, weathered body. The billum were a minor nuisance to Bruce. After all, he'd been bathing in the Quamina for 20 years, ever since a messy divorce brought him to this tiny Central American nation from his home in Gulfport, Miss.
"As a boy I had always wanted to live in the bush," said Bruce, as he worked up a lather with his bar soap. "When I moved here, I decided to see if I was man enough to make a living under primitive conditions. "
A friend told him about Belize, then known as British Honduras. It was English-speaking. It had jungle. And it was only a two-hour flight from home.
"In case my wife wanted me back," Bruce said.
His wife never called. In Gulfport, Bruce an Amherst College and Columbia Law School graduate - had been a successful insurance agent. In Belize, he has achieved notoriety of another sort - a keen ability to thrive in the jungle. Villagers hereabouts refer to Minnick as "that white man in the bush."
It had been that description that led me to Bruce that morning.
I traveled to Belize the previous week for five days of scuba diving and spearfishing on a remote eastern atoll, Glover's Reef. Afterwards, I decided to see if I could find my way to Livingston, Guatemala, which initially required me hitchhiking southward on a couple of supply boats on the Northern and then Southern Lagoon. On the second boat a local mentioned he heard there was an American living in the jungle near Gales Point, the boat's destination.
In a fishing and farming village of several hundred residents, it didn't take long to find Bruce.
After a quick hello - he was shocked by my sudden appearance - he said that although he had a home in the village he owned property in the jungle where his friend, Dorthea, lived.
"You want to tag along?" Bruce asked. "I think she'll enjoy meeting you."Click here to read the rest of the article at TheRoadBoomer.com