25 Years Ago
The other day I was roasting some peppers and onions to make a delicious salsa, which goes well in tacos, burritos, fried beans or even over fish. Just when the peppers were almost done, my wife started to cough as it seems she is allergic to something in the peppers.
The other day I had to laugh when a friend of mine told her husband to put his pants into the laundry basket because it looked like dona Tina's dress after she finished cooking with the fire hearth. Indeed my mind immediately went to those good old days when the hearth was the sole mode of cooking in the village of San Pedro.
The buried treasurers at "Boca Ciega" (Blind Mouth) that were described a few issues ago are not the only treasurers found on Ambergris Caye. We know that there is buried jade at Marco Gonzalez Maya ruins for villagers have claimed to have extracted a jade head and sold it for a couple hundred dollars. Villagers have also found in the past gold coins right on the seaside, and these were not modern day gold coins.
There are many things we take for granted, don't we? Some of us take our spouses for granted and forget to tell them we love them. Some take life for granted and forget to give God our thanks, for He is the "giver of life". One thing we take for granted today that we did not 25 years ago, is ICE.
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".
Did you know that there are buried treasures on Ambergris Caye? Do you know that if you find it, you would be a millionaire? It is claimed that part of it has been dug and found, but chances are there is still some more, and it won't spoil for it is in gold coins and precious stones.
So the environmental restoration project signed by our Area Representative and managed by Rojas Schulz and Nelder is looking at waste management control. They are telling us that waste management ensures that garbage is lessened and the best way to do this is to REUSE as much as possible. Very true.
There are things that happen daily in a large metropolis or town but they occur so rarely in small towns like San Pedro. Twenty five years ago when a baby was born in the village, it was a cause for celebration and the entire village talked about and was anxious to know the baby and learn of the mother's welfare. The same is true of deaths. Perhaps a person died every three or four years and when it happened, everything came to a standstill in San Pedro.
Last week's edition of this column carried an article about lashing children at home, the school, on the street and in jail. Certainly that is unheard of today as you would have everybody on your case beginning from Human Rights Commission right down to the "National Alliance for the Preservation and Protection of the Cockroach" (NAPPC). In fact today, it would seem that some criminals have more human rights than we, the law-abiding citizens of this world.
The success of the column "Twenty Five Years Ago" has been such that now two other newspapers carry similar columns in Belize. The Belize Times and The Reporter have borrowed this same title that was started by your humble servant in 1992. Recently one of the articles in the Reporter talked about lashing given in jails in Belize 25 years ago, and it served to remind me of lashing as we knew it in San Pedro. Probably many of you who were children all throughout the 1950's and as late as the 1970's can relate with this.
So there are these big bad crocodiles threatening animals and people and we are all concerned about to handle this matter. Well, let me tell you that this is not an unusual case for twenty five years ago there were many of these such problems and the folks only knew to handle it one way.
Making the rounds to check the crayfish path 25 years ago was like a ritual to the fishermen and perhaps a bit different today. First of all you got to your spot 2 or 3 or 4 miles from the village with your dory, either using a small sail, two paddles, or a pole. Late in the 1950's they were using a three horse power outboard engine, which was considered a luxury. To save on gasoline, my dad used to go one way with the "palanca" or pole, and returned with the little engine.
Eight hundred pounds of lobster tails in the first day of delivery at the fishing cooperative! Wow! That is heartbreaking. When Edwardo quoted that figure which he had obtained from the manager of Caribeña Fishing Co-operative, I could not help but take my mind into the 1950's when I used to help my dad during the week prior to crayfish opening day and the first day of the season.
If you have not had cocoplum jelly, you have missed one of the most exotic fruit jellies in the Island and perhaps in the tropics. But you can have it this month after I give you the simple recipe because the month of June and July is cocoplum season in San Pedro. But first I want to tell you about cocoplums 25 years ago.
A common sight on the beaches and streets today are the bikinis and swimsuits. They were originally intended for swimming and to bring out the beauty of the body of women. We in San Pedro first saw bikinis in the movies at a time when our ladies of San Pedro totally refused to show their legs, much less their bellies or breasts. Today at certain "entertainment" places the bikini has proven too much, and you do not see the bikinis anymore for they have been removed.
Everyone who was born before 1973 was not born as a Belizean, but rather as a citizen of British Honduras. British Honduras was a colony of Great Britain; therefore we were British so to speak, even though we were not citizens of England or Great Britain.
Last week I placed two nails near your entrance door and the purpose was to hang two hats in your house 25 years ago when using hats were common. Today I want to take you through another and different custom of the 50's. First of all you need to realize that the kitchens of the past did not boast a kitchen counter nor cabinets. In fact, they did not even have a wash sink nor gas range. However, that is not the point for you wouldn't think that the nails served for a sink or stove.
Would you place a nail on the wall near your entrance door? Would you hang anything other than decorations on the wall of your house? If you were to go back in time in the forties and fifties, you would find in each house one or two nails right near the entrance door of the humble houses of most Sanpedranos. By now you have probably realized that these nails had a purpose. And you are quite right, for these nails were for the men to hang their hats.
Last week we enjoyed the manner in which sea turtles or the loggerheads are captured. It is a simple art that came natural to most Sanpedranos. On a typical afternoon in May there were up to ten sailing boats trawling outside the reef and hunting for the monster "cawamos" as they were called in Spanish. By the end of the evening you could walk along the beach and see about ten loggerheads pulled up on the beach. Their fins would be tied or they could use them to flip over and swim back to sea. As children we used to find pleasure to molest these monstrous animals.
It is obvious that today people see the turtle, the loggerhead turtle, different today than 25 years ago. Back then as soon as you say a turtle it meant some fun and adventure and food, of course. Today it is: "See me, admire me, protect me." Back then if you said you missed a turtle or it escaped from you, you would be considered a "pendejo" (useless fishermen). Today if catch one, you might be in trouble with the law, and if you catch one you might be considered an inconsiderate fisherman.