The Beer Bottle Burglar et al.

Curacao 1983-1986

The maid heard the Beer Bottle burglar from her snug, en suite bedroom located outside the family's home. Behind her solid wood, securely locked door, she heard the pop of a bottle top followed by a glug sound.

The question was, what to do? It wasn't her home, she only lived there as an employee. The kitchen door handle rattled. The Mevrouw (Mrs) or Meneer (Mr) always locked the kitchen door, so she knew it was locked.

But what if the burglar tried to come into her room, she thought? So using her deepest, loudest, most serious voice, Rosalind yelled to the unseen burglar, "Go AWAY! NOW!" Hearing footsteps clomping away, she happily went back to sleep.

In the morning Rosalind showed the Mevrouw the metal top of the Amstel beer bottle that the burglar had begun to drink. Dutch courage?

Since Curacao was still part of the Kingdom of Holland, why not?


The next burglar literally came in through the louvered bathroom window, but only after carefully removing each louver and stacking them carefully on the sandy soil outside. The burglar then crawled through the now open window, into the shower and through the bathroom. Past our two children's rooms, into the large living room he found a briefcase.

Retracing his steps out of the house, the intruder opened the briefcase. Nothing. No money, no jewelry, no nothing, just worthless--to the burglar--papers. Running away he left open the briefcase. The next morning we found papers blowing about the rocky, cacti garden. We easily replaced the louvered windows.

But it was scarily reminiscent of the attempted break in when we lived in Asunción, Paraguay in 1979. The burglar had sliced open the screened porch outside our 2 year old's room causing her to wake and cry out for us. We went to her: he made himself scarce.

This time in Curacao, I decided we had to get an alarm system and panic buttons. The image of how easy the company home was to break into, added to the sense of a threat to our children was just too much to risk.



Moving from Curacao to Ecuador, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. Since Curacao was part of Mother Holland, imports from there were a cheap as chips. So I bought 4-four kilo wax-sealed rounds of young Gouda cheese to take in our shipment to Ecuador. The mouthwatering delight frequently went on sale in Curacao for about US$1.00 a pound, making the by weight ten pound rounds cost only US$10. Plus they were prepackaged, if you will, in their wax sealed containers.

As the last items to go in our shipping container were the 4-four-kilo Gouda rounds, after which Gary watched the container be locked and sealed.

When our shipping container arrived in the Port in Guayaquil, Gary went to check it was still safely locked and sealed. Next the movers delivered it to our home and since Gary was at the shrimp farm with his New York City bosses, I roped some new friends into helping me keep an eye on the movers to ensure none of our things went walkabout.

It took a few days to realize the Gouda had disappeared. How it was done, we never knew. That it was done was patently obvious. The rounds of Gouda cheese were gone. We spent months poking our noses into various specialty shops to see if we could find the cheese being resold.


American Pattie was a shrimp farmer's wife and to put it as kindly as possible, unaccustomed to living abroad. Driving to a friend's to drop off something, Pattie left her Jeep running and unlocked. In the time that it took for her to run to the front door, ring the bell and hand something over, Pattie's vehicle was gone. An opportune robbery for a passing by thief.


When our adopted King Charles Spaniel, Snoopy, was stolen, it was like losing a friend of the family. But in ways it was unsurprising, Snoopy's nickname was Houndini given his propensity for escaping from any enclosure. Optimistically we put an advertisement in the local newspapers, offering a reward in the hope that someone would rather have spendable money than the dog. It didn't work. All we got were nuisance calls or calls threatening to kill the dog while we were on the phone.


After 3 years, we were leaving Guayaquil to return to the USA. At the airport, we encountered a mass of humanity as some group or another was leaving at the same time. The Cocker Spaniel was nervous, so I sat on the floor with her and our kids while my husband went to check us in.

With the crush of people, all I saw in my field of vision was a disembodied hand reach down and grab one of the two briefcases that I was supposed to be taking care of. It was gone in seconds. Crying out was no good, no one could hear me and given I couldn't see who had done the deed, it was a lost cause.

Blubbering to my husband when he dashed back, I confessed that I had failed. Luckily so had the thief, who'd stolen the briefcase with ephemera and some personal papers--papers again--that were valueless. The second briefcase containing personal information like Social Security cards, mortgage paperwork and the jewelry we had of any value, I still clung to.

The kids were fine, as were we. So truly it was a case of it was better to be lucky than smart.




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    Candace Drimmer

    TIMELINE June 1972 to June 1973---Candace moves to Lima (Peru)----- June 1973 to May 1974---Candace and The Husband live in Glendale AZ----- May 1974 to August 1974---Living in Toronto, Ontario (Canada)----- September 1974 to May 1975---Living in Aberdeen SD----- May 1975 to July 1979---Living in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)----- July 1979 to June 1980---Living in Asuncion (Paraguay)----- June 1980 to September 1980---Living in NYC----- September 1980 to November 1982---Living in Connecticut----- November 1982 to January 1983---Living in Ponce, Puerto Rico (USA)----- February 1983 to July 1986---Living in Willemstad, Curacao (Netherlands Antilles)----- July 1986 to July 1989---Living in Guayaquil (Ecuador)----- July 1989 to July 1995---Living in Connecticut (yes, again)----- July 1995 to August 2001---Living in Mexico City (Mexico)----- August 2001---Return to Gringolandia (a.k.a. United States of America)----- I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew I met a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, fell in love and moved to Peru in the 1970s. WHAT an adventure it's been!! NOTE: I gave up Facebook, so apologies that I cannot answer any comments since it is only set up via FB.

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