25 Years Ago
One more year has transpired and no doubt it had its ups and downs. The angels in you have led you on the right path. Now the question is, “Have you thanked God for all his goodness to you? This is the good time to thank and glorify God for his favors unto you.
Christmas is Christmas, but 25 years ago, it was celebrated quite differently, so here is a taste of Christmas 25 years ago. One knew that Christmas day was approaching when you could see those huge hams in sacks hanging from the ceiling at the two or three stores in the village. There being no meat in the village throughout the year, these hams were a special delicacy, and the shop keeper made it his duty to call his customers so that they would reserve their order.
How many of you know that there were a few Sanpedranos that worked in the construction of the Panama Canal? Not many I suppose, but documented evidence reveals of several of them working there in several capacities.
Did you know that there was an epidemic in San Pedro twenty five years ago? Well, don’t get scared that you missed it if you moved here around 1980. This epidemic actually occurred in 1918. It was part of a worldwide epidemic known as the Spanish Influenza that started right after World War I in the trenches of France.
There is a procession of candle lights approaching slowly from the reef in the direction of the beach. The lights seem to be floating about four feet above the surface of the sea. It moves slowly and gently and a slight murmur can be heard, a combination of prayer and singing. As the procession nears the main pier, a gust of chilly wind can be felt.
How different were insects and bugs 25 years ago from today? Well one main difference is that today we do not see many dragonflies and lightning bugs as there were back then. With a lot of trees and not too much development the air was literally full of these insects 25 years ago, and because the children did not have much entertainment back then, well, they had fun with these bugs.
If you ever told Sanpedranos, 25 years ago, that it was illegal to catch sea turtles, or that the season was closed, you would have upset them so badly that they probably would have beaten you. That was because sea turtles were very important in their lives, and I will tell you why first. Then I will tell you of the different ways to catch them next week.
Have you ever heard of “Mal de Ojo”, or The Evil Eye? Well, if you haven’t, now you will and you will be amazed at the energy that a person can generate. This is how Mal de Ojo worked 25 years ago. Some people just naturally have a strong and harmful eye, you know, like the young man who winks at a young lady. One wink might be a genuine sign of appreciation, while another might be a lustful and penetrating wink that tells a girl, “I want to possess you.”
Before you even start thinking that this article is a joke, I want to warn you that it is serious, especially because it deals with children and they can be very curious. Their curiosity leads them to swallow strange things. So all things said, never swallow paper. Some babies put pieces of a balloon in their mouths and swallow them. Others bite on pieces of plastic, swallow large wads of chewing gum, or even plastic wrapper that comes around cheese. All this because they are hungry.
I guess you all know what diapers are, right? Well just in case you don’t, they are rectangular pieces of cloth used 25 years ago in place of pampers. Now I know all modern girls can only see the bad side of diapers and the good side of pampers, right? But I am prepared to convince you otherwise. The good side of diapers is that they are reusable. You wash six or seven of them each day (depending on how shitty your baby is) and you can reuse them.
Can you imagine husking coconuts for a living? Husking refers to the act of peeling a coconut and by that I mean removing the shell from around the nut. To do this you use a sharply pointed iron called an “Estaca”. Half of the estaca is firmly inserted into the ground and the half with the sharp point remains out. You need a special knack to peel a coconut – something easier demonstrated than explained.
Can I barrow some of your King Hair Gel or Moco de Gorila gel or Punky Junky Gel for my “punk style”? Or the more sophisticated kids would ask for some Loreal or Paris hair gel. But what about 25 years ago? What were the kids and teenagers using to create their favorite hair styles?
Twenty five years ago the scar left after the cutting of the umbilical cord was called a “tuch”. And even after the scar healed and fell off, the small hallow known as the navel was also called el “tuch”. Now it is interesting what parents did with the scar or “tuch” once it fell off. You would think that it would simply be thrown away in the garbage disposal, but no! Because San Pedro was a community entirely made up of fishermen, dad took the “tuch”, near the reef or outside the reef and cast the “tuch” into the sea.
In the days (25 years ago) when the population of San Pedro was some 500 persons, the way to move cargo between San Pedro and Belize City was by sailing boat. The first cargo boat was by sailing boat. The first cargo boat to provide this service was the Elsa P., owned and sailed by the legendary Tio Pil (Felipe Paz), who is now retired and owns Lily’s Hotel.
The Garifunas tease the Mestizos because they do not know the many dishes with green plantain. But similarly the Mestizos can tease the Garifunas for missing out on the uses of corn.
While today and 25 years ago a housewife’s day is spent all over the house cleaning and doing laundry etc. a great part of her day is spent in the kitchen. For the housewife of 25 years ago, this photo illustrates some of her basic equipment besides the “Fogon” (fire hearth).
I remember when it was every boys dream to own his “Shooshak” to be able to do what dad did. The photo is very illustrating, so I will concentrate on its uses. It was strapped to a man’s head and shoulders and back, so he had two free hands – one to kill mosquitoes and the another one to collect coconuts and fling them into the “Shooshak”.
The beauty of a “Fogon” (fire hearth) used 25 years ago is that it is a stove, an oven, and a grill. Even when fish was the only ingredients for the menu, some of the best cooking went on these “fogones”.
In the 1950 and 60's we did not have a lot of committees in San Pedro, but things still got done in the small laid-back fishing village. We did not have the Lions Club nor the tourist guide association. Neither did we have a PTA, a Red Cross, youth groups, Chamber of Commerce, Costa Maya Committee, British Bulldogs, sports association, Saga Society, Cancer Society, etc. We did not even have a PUP nor NIP nor UDP committee. So how did things get done?
Today people in San Pedro only look at the moon to admire it. If you happen to look up and it is there, you cannot resist the temptation of admiring its splendor. Thomas Kirkpatrick spends a whole month vacationing in San Pedro and spends more time on his verandah admiring the moon and stars and the view than anything else. The moon has even inspired him to write a poem entitled, "I Leave My Heart in San Pedro".