25 Years Ago

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I have recently received a very heartwarming letter from one of my ex-students and graduate of San Pedro High in the 1970. The person is Steve Krueger whose father was the owner of El Pescador Hotel and who lived here in San Pedro along with his parents and family. His little brother was Robert and his little sister was Jeanine Krueger.  

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There are people today that can read the palm of the hands. There are others who can foretell your future by reading from a deck of cards. Others read the stars and tell us a lot about our lives. Still there are some people who can tell of your personality simply by looking at how you hold your pen and how you write and how you press on the letters and the shape of your letters.  

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The other day I watched some good boxing between Joe Calzaghe and Jeff Lacy and I could not help reminisce about some boxing that used to happen in San Pedro twenty five years ago. No it was never professional boxing, not even formal amateur boxing, but good street boxing that did develop some good boxers in San Pedro among the children and teenagers.  

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Teacher, teacher, Pedro is eating sand,” This kind of accusation was common from children at school who discovered that a boy was eating sand. And this happened with children who were as young as three years and as old as ten. It is not that they had no understanding of the very unhygienic practice, but they had a craving and they did exactly that.  

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We can safely say that 25 years ago there was no politics in San Pedro. As a village there were no two party elections so there was no campaigning to become a village councilor. In fact people had to be coerced and persuaded to volunteer their services as chairman of the village council, and when you got in there, if there was no one who wanted to assume that responsibility, you would remain there for a long time.  

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Back in 1998 past town board Councilor Omar Guerrero showed me some plans for beach expansion and beautification. I was extremely excited because I knew that our beaches are the number one attraction for tourists and the most affordable recreation for our locals as well.  

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I got into politics in a most interesting way in 1971, and after I got in I remained committed to politics until 1991, when I retired.I was only 21 years old and I was curious about what was happening at a village council meeting held at the local cinema, Teatro Arenas. Present at the meeting was a PUP government minister, Honorable McKoy who was minister of local government. He was responsible to conduct village council elections.  

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At times Sanpedranos have gone beachcombing looking for things they can use like lumber to build a fence or bamboo to repair lobster pats. At other times they went out looking for buoys for the guild nets or digging for worms to be used as bait. Interesting things have been found on the beaches of San Pedro and the most popular one has been new lumber in great quantities - and I mean great quantities.  

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Imagine a time when apples were enjoyed for about two or three weeks of Christmas only. Apples were not seen on the shelves of the stores throughout the year. And suddenly, in the middle of the year you wake up one day and people are saying that there are tons of apples on the beach, right in front of the village and all over the beach from Boca Del Rio to Victoria House. Can you imagine the excitement to verify if this is true and then the excitement to fill your dory with apples?  

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Last week we took you beachcombing in the 1960’s, and we found interesting objects that had floated to the beaches along the coast of San Pedro. Very few people walked the beaches up north, but the beach from the town core towards the south was frequently combed by children, men and even families. It was like a hobby and at times one just woke up and decided to walk the beach to see what he would find. And here are a few more things we used to find.

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The word “playador” means a beachcomber. Therefore Hotel Playador actually refers to the pastime of beachcombing. Beachcombing used to be a favorite pastime in the 1960’s. Coconut farmers used to beach comb on their way to their place of work along the beach. Fishermen used to stop at a certain spot and beach comb for a mile or two. On Sundays, young people or anyone used to take a stroll along the beach with the same purpose. Of course the place to beach comb was not on the beach near the village for anything useful had been picked up already.

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After the Christmas and New Year’s vacations, our tourists are returning home to their daily routines. The children are returning to school and so families must return home. Therefore, there is a slight lull in San Pedro after the vacations. Twenty five years ago there was a similar lull in the village life, and one that really made things tough for our poor fishermen, especially our poor skin divers.

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Indeed the world changes and so do customs and traditions, laws, events, even people. And all of this comes to mind with the recent article by Ambergris Today informing and perhaps cautioning us that there is at least one large shark and several vicious crocodiles roaming too close to town, too close to swimming areas.

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Last week we enjoyed the romantic side of the “serenatas” or serenades. It was certainly a macho thing as only men took serenades to the girl of their dreams. However, as romantic as it was, serenades had their funny side.

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Do you consider a young lad singing a love song at your doorstep a romantic event? Do you consider a group of young men, two guitars, and three voices waking you up at three in the morning to the tune of a romantic ballad a very special moment in your life? If you do, then you will agree that young men and ladies in the past lived more romantic lives than our teenagers today.

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I have just learned at the 2005 Miss Garifuna Pageant, which I thoroughly enjoyed, that there are 2,500 Garifunas living in San Pedro. Could that be true, because I have always thought just by looking that there might be about five hundred. That would be a good social studies or civics project of a school to kind of carry out a census of how many Mestizos, Creoles, Garifunas, and other large ethnic groups we have living in San Pedro.

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Fifty years ago there were rumors going around San Pedro that there was oil on the island. As children I remember playing in the lagoon and suddenly a bubble of air would appear from the bottom of the lagoon and rise to the surface. When this bubble got to the surface of the water, it would burst and a colorful oily residue would spread on the surface of the water, somewhat like when you spill some oil on the sea.

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Indeed necessity is the mother of inventions as I commented last week. Did you know that back in the 1950’s we could catch radio stations as far as Harlingen, Texas? And how did we do that? Simply by using two very tall bamboo poles and setting up a very high antenna connected to the radio, and as simple or unsophisticated they might have been, those radios could tune in to Harlingen, Havana, El Salvador, Honduras and the Cayman Islands.

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This weekend I had a craving to drink something we used to drink plenty in San Pedro twenty five years ago, that is red Fanta or the Strawberry pop mixed with pet milk and sugar corn with lots of ice. Boy is that delicious!

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There is a new corn tortilla factory in town, in the San Pablo area, and I am going to write about it not because it is a convenient store in my area, but because it reminds me of baking tortillas 25 years ago. It is mostly done by hand. The first thing involved in this process is boiling the corn until it is tender enough to be grounded for the dough. A hand mill is used and this is a long and tedious process. Water is added to the ground corn to make the dough of the right texture and consistency.

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