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Embarcaderos Part 2

Last week we learned about the embarcaderos, which were basically the dump site for the village twenty five years ago. There was one at each street leading to the lagoon, so those embarcaderos are now buried and lying under some house. However, the meaning of embarcadero is a wharf for loading and unloading of goods. The question asked was whether there were wharves at the end of each of these streets.

The answer is yes, there was a short wooden pier or wharf beginning at Thunderbolt’s wharf all the way to Caribeña and Texaco. These wharves served for the local fishermen to anchor and sell their product to the public. The villagers came up the wharf to purchase their snapper, shad, mullet, grunts, barracuda, or jacks. These were the popular fish gotten from the fish traps. Some of the villagers brought their knives and cleaned their fish right at the wharf, before taking it home. In fact, one way that the villagers knew that there was fish at a certain wharf was to look at the sky for the frigate birds. Birds flying over the embarcadero was a sign that a fisherman was there selling fish. This also was true of spots along the beach.

Now listen to this. At the end of each jetty or pier, there was a public outdoor toilet called a latrine standing right over the sea. It could seat 2 or 3 adults at any given time, and the faeces “landed” right on the water. These public toilets were used only by men. The women used outdoor toilets in the backyard. The boys used the home toilet until 8 or 9 years of age, and then they were required to use the latrines at the embarcaderos.

Nobody talks about the embarcaderos without remembering the fish called X’pinta. (pronounced eshpinta)] These fish ate all the faeces and were abundant at the site of the latrines. I hate to say this, but the fishermen washed their fish just some twenty feet away from this area. Fishing was not considered safe at these places, but I do recall some kids casting their fishing lines from these embarcaderos, and if mom would find out, these fish would be thrown away.

It was about 1978 to 1980 that the village council of the day decided to close down these public latrines or embarcaderos with no opposition from the villagers, but that was because politics had not yet come into the picture. What was more difficult to close down were the dumpsites for people had gotten used to them and had no means of disposing of their garbage, so the village council initiated a garbage collection system. On the walls of the embarcaderos there were love message, hate messages and secrets revealed. Perhaps if you caught a friend in there and you remembered something he did to you and you wanted revenge, you would take a coconut or stick and splash some water from underneath. You can imagine the rest of the atrocious incidents. But today we can safely say: “Thank God the embarcaderos are history and are only memories of twenty five years ago.”

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