25 Years Ago
So the custom 25 years ago was to write a formal letter requesting permission to visit a girl at her home and the father would write back either with a letter denying that permission or accepting. Finally here is the long awaited approval letter about a week or two after it was mailed, sorry I mean sent with a little boy (and it cost 25 cents special delivery; the same cost of a local stamp today). "Estimado Alberto", (Dear Alberto)
Last week we saw how 25 years ago Antoño requested permission from Don Pablo to visit his house and to formally declare Rosita to be his "novia" (fiancé). Here is Don Pablo's reply. "Estimado Antoño" (dear Antoño),
Estimado Señor Pablo, (Dear Mr. Pablo) With all due respect that I have for you, I send you this letter to ask your kind permission to visit your house. Your daughter, Rosita, and I love each other and we would like to make formal our relationship. It has been several months now that we have been talking and thinking of our love and now I would like your permission to visit at your house if you are kind enough. I promise to respect you and your family and to visit at the specified days and time that you may grant me.
I am sure that in today's diet we in San Pedro are eating more rice than corn. Think of the many dishes where rice is part of the main course. Not so 25 years ago. Corn was certainly the main part of most meals and that certainly was due to our Mexican roots. Let us see how much corn was used 25 years ago.
Mr. Milo Paz of Milo's Ice tells me that he has five ice machines that manufacture two thousand pounds each and even that is not enough for the needs of the town. Can you believe that? And can you believe that in the 1950's there was no ice made in San Pedro? Today we take ice for granted in San Pedro as we just pick up the phone and place an order. Twenty five years ago it was a very precious commodity and the villagers preserved it for as long as it could last.
You might laugh at this or doubt me, but ask anybody who lived in the 50's and you will believe me. Bikinis, swimsuits, bathing suits, G-strings etc., you see them everywhere today. I suppose they were made for the beach and swimming pool, but we see them on the streets, at the restaurants, and even at public staged events. Not so twenty five years ago! Young girls never conceived the idea of exposing their bodies in public, and when they did, they were very conservative."
A group of us teachers were conversing the other day and the topic came up on ways in which children were punished, especially in schools in the past. It seems that it was the same right across the country of Belize from north to south, east to west. After comparing the changes one can only ask the question, "Is too much punishment better or worse than no punishment at all?"
Last week we learned about the embarcaderos, which were basically the dump site for the village twenty five years ago. There was one at each street leading to the lagoon, so those embarcaderos are now buried and lying under some house. However, the meaning of embarcadero is a wharf for loading and unloading of goods. The question asked was whether there were wharves at the end of each of these streets.
Tell anybody who is 50 years or more the word "embarcadero", and he will immediately carry his mind to the public toilets sitting over the lagoon 25 years ago. Young people today do not know that type of "embarcadero". There is a famous embarcadero in Mexico known as Xochimilco, which is a waterway and tourist attraction. There the embarcadero is a beautiful wharf with large canoes or rafts and you are taken for a ride with mariachis and music, photographers, flowers, food and souvenirs.
Whenever I think about hardships of the past I think about those Sanpedrano students who used to attend high school in Belize City, mostly at Saint John's College. There are several things in their lives that were quite challenging and in a way a hard experience. Today the San Pedro youths have the pleasure of attending high school right here at home and those few who travel do not have any hardships to talk about.
Adults in their 50's and 60's love to talk about hardships that they encountered 25 years and beyond. What could these hardships be when we hear that you could buy a string of fish for only ten cent or a can or corned beef for 25 cents? First, there were no meat products that you could purchase from the stores; therefore you had to eat what you caught from the sea. Of course fish is a delicacy, but just imagine eating it three times a day and seven days a week. Now you can see why corned beef was a delicacy on Sundays.
As soon as the recent fire was over, someone asked me: "Okay Mr. Twenty Five Years Ago, tell me how were fires put out 25 years ago?" I am not certain if the person wanted to ask me if it was different or if it was done with buckets and in that sense no different from today. But here are two incidents with fires as I recall them in the 1950's and early 1960's.
It is twenty dollars for you come in and dance," said the man at the ticket counter at the discotheque. "What do you mean? I am not going in to dance, just to have a drink," exclaimed the young man who wanted to go in but only had twenty dollars, which he was planning to use for his drinks. "Sorry, but you have to pay in order to come in. It is company policy," said the doorman apologetically.
If you think that the building of the seawall alongside the lagoon is a big development, well think again for there has been a lot of development in that area that has brought about much change to the area. Here's how that west side of the lagoon looked in the 1950's and thereon.
Was Easter different 25 years ago from today? Easter is indeed a religious festivity and as your can imagine, religious celebrations and rituals do not change much. A Mass is a Mass and the same Biblical passages are repeated year after year and the colors of Lent and Easter do not change.
Twenty Five Years Ago does not like to lament nor does it like to criticize things that were different in San Pedro. In similar manner, Twenty Five Years Ago does not like to celebrate nor rejoice at changes for what is one man's happiness is another person's headache. One person likes a lot of lights in his neighborhood while another person likes it dark and romantic.
At the Flag Raising Ceremony organized in San Pedro Town by Hon. Patty Arceo and the Ministry of Human Development, Women & Children, & Civil Society, the Mayor of San Pedro offered the welcome address. In his address I could not help reminiscing of strict loyalty, patriotism and self-respect taught to children in the 1950's and even in the 40's as the Mayor explained.
Can you close your eyes and try to imagine all that area from Paradise Hotel all the way to the Boca del Rio and all the area at the back known today as San Juan? In short, there was nothing but trees and mangroves and swamps along that entire area. There were no dwellings, not hotels, no stores, no residences, no high school, no businesses, no nothing in that area 25 years ago.
There are so many amenities for the avid divers today. They can get pool instruction from qualified PADI personnel at the hotels. They can get all their diving gear at several different professional scuba diving shops. Divers have all measures of safety that a diver's safety is highly guaranteed. If there is an unfortunate accident, there is the hyperbaric chamber, fully functional in San Pedro so that lives can be saved right here on the island. You got the picture right. There is so much offered to the diver looking for fun and yet guaranteeing his safety.
Credit must be given to these first two gift shops, which opened doors almost simultaneously in San Pedro to open the doors to this now thriving business. Today there must be close to some 25 gift shops and souvenir places combined with boutique, children's gifts, and other accessories. The pioneers in gift shop business are The Sea Turtle Gift Shop and D & G's Gift Shop.