25 Years Ago

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The fifth area in San Pedro to be developed into a residential development was San Pedrito. It was so called because it was like an immediate extension of San Pedro proper. With the huge success of San Pablo, Glenn Godfrey knew that more land for the residents of San Pedro would please many people and also win him another election as he was looking for his second term of office. So he and his committee focused their eyes in a swampland area behind the airstrip and towards the lagoon.

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The lovely residential area of San Pablo was the fourth area in San Pedro to be developed after the town core, Boca Del Rio, and San Juan. This area was conceived in the minds of Hon. Area Representative, Glenn Godfrey along with the PUP Town Board at the time. It was conceived with the idea of providing much needed land for residential purposes and to offer it at very low prices considering that real estate had driven prices up to the sky.

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We have seen the first two areas of our town that were developed, the first one being the town core and the second one the Boca Del Rio Area. The next area in chronological order is the San Juan Area. This area comprises the entire area behind Boca Del Rio Area, or the area that is by the lagoon. Boca Del Rio goes from past Paradise to the river on the seaside, and San Juan is the entire stretch from behind Belize Electricity Limited all the way to the river on the lagoon side.

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The area of Boca del Rio never existed twenty five years ago. From present day Paradise Hotel to Boca del Rio it was all bush. We called the waterway Boca del Rio, but it is not a river. It is a canal believed to have been cut by a hurricane or dug by the Maya Indians who inhabited the island many hundreds of years ago. If you wanted to enter that area, you had to get into the bush just past Paradise Hotel and adventure the wildlife.

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San Pedro Town, as you know it today, was once a very small village. To get an idea of how small it was, you would have to leave out Boca Del Rio Area, San Juan, Airstrip Area, San Pedrito, San Pablo, San Marcos, DFC area, and even Escalante Subdivision and Mosquito Coast area. When you leave all of that out, there you have the core of what used to be the little fishing village of San Pedro all the way up to the early 1960’s.

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I go to masses all the time on Sundays, and now even on Wednesdays along with the entire high school and we fill the church with three hundred students. It is always pleasing to go to church because we go to sing and pray as we worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, but how different masses were, 25 years ago. It would be fun to have Father Jim or Father Paul try it one of these days.

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Actually I believe that BEL does a formidable job in lighting up San Pedro. At least in my vicinity, we have great lighting. Yes we have the blackouts, but what the heck. It only makes us appreciate mother-nature a little more.

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My good friend, Mr. Emory King, writes in the Belize Times a column called “Once Upon A Time” and he mostly goes into stories of Colonial times with valuable history on Belize and our mother country, England. Last week, however, he had some thoughts about old Belize City and recalled the times when little boys were willing to put their hands into the stinking drain to pull out a one cent piece. Oh yes, I can recall how far we would go for a penny, a dime, a nickel and a quarter.

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If you walk around Ambergris Caye today you will find some really nice fancy houses especially in the new and developing subdivisions like San Pablo, Escalante and Mosquito Coast area. The town core remains with the same structures of the past for the most part except for the new spanking business premises, which are modern by all standards. Now don’t ask me what constitutes a fancy house, but the architects will throw in a Jacuzzi, hot and cold air and water, and other amenities plus a fancy design outside.

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In the old little village of San Pedro there was no other dance or fiesta that was more long awaited with enthusiasm than the Baile de los Viejos (translated as the Dance of the Old People). This was the party in San Pedro Village that attracted the largest attendance, since every married couple attended this party and in pairs. This was the party that was most eagerly anticipated since married couples planned for it during the entire month of December. Actually it was a dance for “Los Viejos” or old people because even couples sixty years and over attended this bash.

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Yes, there are a few more things I miss about Christmas 25 years ago besides the hams, apples, grapes, house parties, the green Christmas tree, the posadas, the bitterly cold days, and the spiritual Christmas songs. I also miss those specially made toys, which our parents did especially for us.

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Yes, I miss the hams, apples, pears, grapes, live green Christmas tree, and the house parties on December 25. But there are a few other things that we miss about Christmas 25 years ago. The “Posadas” was a big thing in the 1950’s and 60’s. The posadas commemorated Mary and Joseph looking for a room at the inn on that cold winter night when Jesus was born. In the posadas there is a group of people in a procession and singing for hospitality in the inn. The group of people in the house represents the people in the inn, who deny such hospitality.

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One of the things I really miss about Christmas 25 years ago, first and foremost is the preparation and enjoying of the ham. Today, we eat ham at many other special occasions, so much that when you eat it for Christmas it is no longer special. The salted hams used to arrive at the stores around December 15, and dad would proudly bring one from the store. He hung the ham in the kitchen at a very visible spot so that all the neighbors could know that there was a ham in the house waiting to be boiled, baked and devoured.

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About nine years ago the author of this column first wrote about the Kis Kis in the San Pedro Sun and Governor Genera,l Sir Colville Young, sent a letter of appreciation to Mr. Nuñez for this story. A few years later he decorated Mr. Nuñez with the medal of the British Empire for community service and his contributions to education. The Governor is himself a writer of song and poems and short stories. Here is a reprint.

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First of all, what is a pupil teacher? A pupil teacher was a person who had just graduated from primary school or Standard Six and entered the teaching profession in the same school. It was the principal of the school who acknowledged that such a person was smart and had the characteristics to become a teacher. This happened because there was a shortage of trained teachers, so it was a remedy to a situation. Pupil teachers existed all over the country and in San Pedro we had some that we shall never forget. Of course a pupil teacher had to study.

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Last week I heard David Marin and Julio Sosa at the morning show at The Reef Radio happily discussing about tales and legends about the month of November, considered in Belize and in Mexico as well as most Latin America, as the month of the Dead. November first is dedicated to the souls of children and November second to the souls of adults.

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In the 1960’s there were no vehicles on the island. Zero! And when one vehicle was finally brought to the island by Caribeña Fishing Cooperative to transport fish and lobster and ice to and fro, the children were so excited that they actually used to run behind the vehicle expressing delight, enthusiasm and happiness to see a vehicle.

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Of course the inauguration of the new marina for Ambergris Caye does ring memories for me. A new marina, Wow! It is actually the first marina, not a new one. We have never had a marina. We have had one main pier from which all our transport and cargo was handled. Of course now we need a marina for the amount of cargo that comes to Ambergris Caye is tremendous. Now let us look at our pier, 25 years ago.

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Here is an interesting story that came to mind just this weekend as the Lions celebrated their 28th anniversary, and it is a story that perhaps even a few Lions are not aware of. The San Pedro Lions Clinic this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. It was inaugurated under our third president, Lions Betito Marin, but the project actually got started under our first and second presidents, Lions Pete Salazar and Wil Alamilla Sr.

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Twenty five years ago there were no Chicago Cub fans in San Pedro, nor did we hear of the Red Sox or the New York Yankees. We had none of that because we did not have television to follow baseball nor the World Series. We did get some news of sports and baseball players made mention of the great hitter, Babe Ruth.

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