By Angel Nuñez
It was December 2, 1959 and a cold northerly had been blowing for two days. The San Pedro fishermen were bracing for a cold month of December and with it the happy anticipation of a large lobster catch.
“Angel, are you going out with me tomorrow to catch some lobsters?” asked my father with a smile knowing full well that I would not turn down the invitation. “Yes, I will so be sure to wake me up,” I replied enthusiastically. “It is going to be colder than today and we have to jump in at five thirty with the first rays of the sunlight,” my dad assured.
The next morning low and behold it was really chilly as we poled our dory about five hundred feet from the beach right in front of the village. There were already about ten other dories, two or three fishermen in each one also preparing to dive in. I put on my fins and cleaned my mask while my dad gave me two weapons which I was to use to catch our most precious prey. One was a stick with a hook firmly fixed to the end and which, of course, we called a “hookstick”. The other weapon was another piece of stick with a wire hoop or lasso fixed on to the end. When we spotted a lobster we would dive towards it and place the hook under its body and with a firm pull we would hook the prey making it defenseless. It was more or less the same thing with the lasso. The hoop was carefully put around the tail of the crustacean and with a slight pull, the animal would be captured and placed into the dory.
After about an hour of swimming and diving surfacing only to place a fresh catch into the dory, I asked. “Dad, about how many do we have already?”
“I believe we have about a hundred and twenty five, and there is space for about 25 more,” said my dad. About half an hour later with a full dory dad and I got into the dory and both shivering and clattering our teeth when the cool breeze hit our bodies. “Put on your shirt, Angel,” said my dad and I did so without hesitating. That felt so good and I silently admired my dad’s audacity in being able to tolerate the wind chill factor. We poled our way towards the beach, pulled the dory slightly up shore and went for a most deserved breakfast of fried snappers with refried beans and hot flour tortillas which my mom had prepared for her two fishermen.
It was the first windy northerly hitting the Island and with it the lobsters made their move during the night because they are nocturnal feeders. In the day time they would hide under anything they could find- a small cave, a rock, branches, mangrove roots, coral, even the lobster traps. The San Pedro fishermen knew about this bonanza and made the best of it while luck lasted. Our catch this day was about two hundred pounds and at nine cents per pound of whole lobster, dad smiled all day long with his prize sale of 18 dollars. Sometimes this would go on for three to four days and it would happen up to four times during the month. Indeed December was a great month for fishermen and their families. It was a time to pay all the bills and even save some in the credit union. Good ole days twenty five years ago in the sleeping fishing village of San Pedro.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarius Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush –Richie’s Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery -Rum, Coffee & Cigar House
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