By Angel Nuñez
It is always fun to reminisce the past about the fun things we USED TO do in San Pedro. Many of the things we used to do were so different from how or what we do today. One of the things that always amazes me is the very simplistic way of doing things.
SELLING FISH: In the order of jobs that kept this village going, fishing was fourth- the first three being cutting logwood, the chicle industry, and the coconut industry. Fishing is the part that I recall so vividly since it was in full swing in the 1950’s when I was a child. One of the things I recall fondly was selling fish to supply for the village needs. To obtain our stock of fish for the market, we USED TO go fishing in the evenings or night time. With our dories we used to go to our favorite fishing spots. Others fished from the one or two piers right in front of the village or right from the beach in front of our homes. Other favorite fishing spots that were near the village were the Boca Del Rio mouth, a sink hole just to the left of Saca Chispas Field which we all called La Plaza de San Pedro. That was the spot for the biggest snappers you can imagine.
Now it was important to keep the fish alive so that it could be sold fresh to the villagers. To do so when we unhooked them we placed them in a submerged box which we called a “vivero”. I guess this word came from the English word vivarium, which is an enclosure, container, or structure adapted or prepared for keeping animals alive. Several dozens of fish could remain alive in a “vivero” for several days but the trick was to sell the fish the following day.
Now it was time to sell our product- the fun part. Children and some adults as well, USED TO make strings of fish by simply inserting a piece of string through the fish’s mouth or eyes, or using the leaf of the palmetto or any palm. A string of 3 large snappers about a pound each sold for ten cents. A string of 6 or mojaras in Spanish also sold for ten cents. Grunts which we all knew as chakchi (Maya word) had the least market value as they sold at 8 for ten cents, and many times people did not want to pay that price. And to be creative we used to have mixed strings with 2 small snappers, 2 grunts and perhaps two shads for ten cents also. We walked the few streets of San Pedro and hoped for some villager to call us and buy our produce. A sale of two or three strings was a good market day and great pocket money. But you would think that we would go on a spending spree? You are wrong. Our parents would make sure we put the money in a piggy bank and on Saturdays we took our savings to the Holy Redeemer Credit Union, which had a branch in San Pedro since the 1940’s.
So how does this compare with selling fish today? Do any children go fishing with the purpose of selling their produce? How much does a one-pound snapper sell for? Do children get to build their vivero? Do children walk around town selling strings of fish? Do you agree with me that catching and selling fish as was done in the past was quite a valuable even romantic experience?
TIN CAN CUPS: Oh yes we had our plastic cups or even more popular the porcelain cups, but our parents delighted in making cups using the tin cans of the few canned products like milk cans and juice cans etc. to make a long story short I will simply make one and you can imagine the children in the 1950’s drinking their tea, coffee, raspado or shaved ice with their tin can cups. You got it right- recycling in San Pedro big time. But do you think children today would like to drink from a tin can? Or are they too affluent or too proud to do so?
One observation: the tin cans in the past lasted a long time without becoming rusty. Today a tin can would start to become rusty after a few weeks, if not days.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today Online Newspaper -Jose Luis Zapata Photography –Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush, A & R
Contact the Author at: [email protected]