By Angel Nuñez
Calm days 25 years ago, or perhaps 50, were taken very much differently than today. Today a calm day is a perfect day with calm seas, the tourists' delight, a perfect tropical setting. It is great for tourist guides to plan their snorkeling, diving, and beach picnic activities. The tourists can enjoy sailing, fishing and cruising around as they enjoy inland trips to the Maya ruins or the caves. Calm days are simply picture perfect for tourists and locals.
Not so in the long days gone by. In the absence of outboard motors, there were only sailing boats and wind power was an absolute necessity. Fishermen hated and dreaded the extremely calm days. With a dead sail on you, the three or four mile trip to your fish traps was a boring two or three hour expedition. A trip to Belize City, where fish was sold commercially could mean up to 20 hours. No lie! I do remember the crew of many boats taking their poles and paddles to try to reach a destination.
When in high school in the city, I remember a trip where a group of us were coming to San Pedro for a Saturday night dance special. We got a "dead calm" and our sailing boat moved like a snail. Just past Caye Caulker we could see the two or three flickering lights of San Pedro, but no matter how anxious we were, we were at the mercy of the wind power and though we tried all the superstitions, which should have brought some wind, we arrived at San Pedro at 4:00 a.m. and that was after the dance.
Meat that was brought from Belize City by boat was also at the mercy of the wind and ran the risk of rotting if caught in a 20-hour journey with no refrigeration on board. No breeze-no fans. And just how do you make a hot, muggy day comfortable? There was no way you could sleep during a hot, muggy night unless you rocked all night long in a hammock. But there again, mosquitoes can't sting from under the bed, but they do very effectively from under the hammock. Then you could close the window, so the mosquitoes would not enter, but neither would the breeze. Well, one could open the windows and put up a screen net. Oh, oh- no screen nets 25 years ago. And to add insult to shame, even if you could lock up your doors and windows, mosquitoes still entered through the many cracks and crevices that characterized houses 25 years ago, especially wooden or thatch houses.
No wind power meant no wind games for the kids of San Pedro- no kites, no airplane toys, no power for the canoes going on a firewood expedition- thus the use of the paddles and poles which we all hated. Sailing was fun, but poling a dory was strenuous work.
The absence of wind was not the fisherman's delight. He always knew that his catch at his fish and lobster traps was best on windy and stormy seas. Today, calm sunny days are the delight of everyone in San Pedro. Not so 25 years ago when wind power was an absolute necessity.
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]