By Angel Nuñez
TONS OF WATER
While Belize City residents depended on government to give them free water which they got from public pumps on the streets, Sanpedranos of yesteryears enjoyed abundance of free water in their own yards. This was possible due to the shallow wells which were dug in the sand. Of course I am talking about the beach lots, the front street (now Barrier Reef Drive) and the middle street (now Pescador Drive). Land on the back street was too close to the lagoon and the wells produced brackish water.
The well water was used for everything including the laundry, doing the dishes, bathing and drinking. As you can imagine, Sanpedranos at the time used water very generously because it was in abundance and the wells never went dry. So while today we have to pay for bottled purified water, in the past it was absolutely free. Rain water was filtered by the sand as it seeped down form a gigantic water table some ten to fifteen feet below the surface.
The old time Sanpedranos also used plain rain water in abundance. During a downpour Sanpedranos captured rain water from the roofs using gutters and stored them in large wood vats. As you can imagine the wood kept the water cool and this was the prime source of drinking water.
Hand sanitizer did not exist in the good old days, but that does not mean that when you went to the table you would be allowed to put bacteria/germs into your mouth. Moms of the old San Pedro were super cautious of cleanliness, especially at the table. Children were dutifully required to wash their hands before and after a meal.
While at the table you were required to eat in silence. Don’t you ever dare to engage in good conversation or else mom would “peel her eyes” at you and if you persisted she would pull your ears. Dad would gracefully announce whenever a conversation started that the table was a place to receive the grace of God, and not a marketplace.
During the entire duration of lunch or dinner, children would be required to keep their elbows off the table. “This is not a bed for you to relax,” dad would say. “This is a place to receive the grace of God and to do it with respect and grace.” We were not raised with complete etiquette because knives and forks were not in common use. In fact we used a spoon to do all our eating, a fish was deboned with hands, and a chicken leg was held with the fingers and taken to the mouth for a bite.
But don’t you ever slurp your tea or your soup. Dad would be only too willing to remark, “Cochino” (pig). And don’t you ever eat fast and produce sounds with your mouth. Again Dad would sternly remark, “Cochino”. If your head was bent over your plate and eating fast or greedily, mom or dad would say: “Only the soldiers eat in a hurry”. And again if you were wearing a cap or hat and came to the table you would be expected to remove it. In fact you had to remove it as soon as you stepped into the house. For wearing a cap at the table, mom would say, “The grace of God will not fall upon you. It will slide right off your cap.” You might not believe me, but I could easily see in my mind how God’s grace slid, like rain, right off my head. Up until today, I cannot sit at the dining table with my cap on. Si, amigos, these are some points of etiquette that were different for the old Sanpedranos from the present day children of San Pedro. And if you notice it also reflects on stricter parents.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Jose Luis Zapata Photography –Richie’s Stationery -Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush
Contact the Author at: [email protected]