TBT - The Trouble With Rum

Recently I received a request from a friend in Finland for a story involving rum. After rummaging around for awhile in past memories I dug up one that some readers of TBT might find of interest.

In 1970 I partnered with a resident on the island of Utila (in the Caribbean) to open a bar called 'The Bucket of Blood'. At that time there was only one other bar on this island of 1,800 people - but there was 5 churches on the island. By the time I left Utila four years later there was as many bars as churches. Now that is what I call progress.

The only booze you could find on a regular basis at either bar was beer and Guaro. The local Guaro is un-aged rum made from sugar cane and brought over from the mainland of Honduras. I'm not sure what proof it was - but it put real meaning into the expression 'fire water'! My first experience with Guaro rum - I could barely get past the smell to taste it. It smelled like kerosine and had the same oily feel of kerosine when rubbed between two fingers. When people came into 'The Bucket' and ordered beer - they were quenching their thirst in the hot tropics and looking for conversation (or hot topics). When they ordered Guaro - they were either looking to get hammered, or they were part of the 'bucket brigade'.

The island did not have a public water system - islanders had rain catchment systems or purchased water from the bucket brigade - or used both methods for their water needs. The bucket brigade was a group of men that scratched out a living of sorts by bailing well water into cut down oil barrels and then rolled them around town on wheelbarrows to sell the water - they would have to bail the water a second time into people's household storage barrels. Fortunately, the best well on the island was the Colomico Well - named after the adjacent twisty Colomico Road (colomico being Spanish for a monkey tail), which just happened to be across the sandy road from our bar! So we had these guys turning well water into rum - because they spent most of their hard earned money on Guaro rum. Both the work and the rum were mind numbing. For the ones that had a real problem with alcohol it was a vicious cycle of selling more water to buy more rum!

One day I got impatient with a guy that wanted to buy more rum on credit and had already fallen off his wooden bar stool twice. I kept asking him to just leave and when he got belligerent I walked around the bar counter and grabbed him by his shirt collar and the back of his pants (he was way under weight) - just like how you see it done in the movies when they throw the bum out. But his clothes were so rotten that half way to the door he stumbled forward and ripped through his clothes - falling on the floor in his underwear! I felt rather foolish standing there with what was left of his clothes - I never saw a movie where this happened!

So my friend in Finland - does this story have a good finish?