By Angel Nuñez
I am sure every generation has its pranks and mostly children do it for innocent fun. Well, years ago in San Pedro was no different and here are some I vividly remember.
How about the Tinta Tintera? How many of you today know this little animal quietly laying on the sand near the warm water of the beach and generally considered a sea slug (California Sea Hare –aplysiidae). Well, you ought to know that if you step on it, it will release an intense reddish purple ink. When we found one of these, we used to hurl it on someone just to have him or her turn purple as seen only during carnival days. It usually caused a lot of fun and laughter seeing the victims trying to rub off this intense dye or coloring that the innocent little creature uses to camouflage itself. That was the fun of Tinta Tintera.
Sea Hare Slug releasing an intense reddish purple ink (California Splysia) -"Tinta Tintera"
And now the Pica Pica. Another prank also happened when we were out at sea having a jolly good time. When swimming near a pier or jetty, we would persuade some innocent kid to embrace one of the posts while he counted to one hundred and by then see how far we had swum. Of course, all the slimy stuff growing on posts in the sea did cause a tremendous itching and by the time the victim realized it, we were having a good laugh especially if the victim started to cry. Sounds like very rude children, right? Not really because we would never play this prank on visitors who would be ignorant of this phenomenon of the Pica Pica.
Prank number three also happened at sea and this time with a killer sea anemone known as the Man of War. Of course everyone knew of the painful effects of the animal’s tentacles. So when there was a crowd at sea and a Man of War happened to sail along, we would create currents with our hands to direct the animal towards some unpopular person, some braggart, some bully or just someone who himself played many pranks on others. If the Man of War hit its target, we would pretend to be innocent because, of course, nobody would suspect with everyone swimming at sea. Again I do want to mention that we never practised this prank on visitors or newcomers to the island. In fact we protected visitors, especially from Belize City when vacationing in San Pedro.
Man of War
Any prank happened on land? Of course we had many. One of the things the children did to have a little fun was to cast a fishing line with a large bait and no fishing hook towards a group of hungry frigate birds. Whenever they swallowed the fish the children delighted in shouting that they had a living kite. Children played with the bird until someone shouted: “The Police is Coming!” At this point they cut the fishing line because if caught by the police officer, he would give you a whipping. Many times we did not have to lose a piece of our lines, because the bird would regurgitate the fish and be free of our prank. I must say that even after playing this little prank, children did have guilty feelings about it and seldom practiced it when there were adults for fear of a good scolding. Got a few more and played by girls too but let’s leave some for another day.
Frigate Birds swallowing fishing lines with bate and children using them as living kites!
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