Twenty five years ago the kids delighted in raiding all fruit trees on the island and if that were to be done today it would be called stealing. Back then it was called mischief.
All boys and even girls used to raid fruit trees and do you know why? There was a scarcity of fruits on the island. A few boats used to bring a few fruits from Sarteneja or Corozal, but that was once in a while and only when it was the season of that particular fruit. The fruits brought to the island were mangoes, oranges, watermelons, cantaloupes, sapodillas, kraboo, mamey, custard apples, sour sop, and even plantains. Those we used to purchase from fruit vendors like don Palao, don Tabito, or from the boats that arrived at the lagoon dock. Then at Christmas time we used to buy imported fruits like apples and grapes.
Now there were a few fruits that were grown locally in the backyards. One such fruit were the papayas that grow extremely well on the island. Kids would jump the fence and pull down some of the nicest papayas and take them to the beach to enjoy with friends. Watermelons were also grown by only a few people. The most popular trees that kids loved to raid were the plum trees. These were grown only by a few people like Don Emilio Rivero and Don Pablito Guerrero. Usually kids would pass by with their sling shots shooting at birds and on the way also raided the trees. At La Ensenada or behind Don Cleto’s property, there were very fine sugar cane plants. There were in the green variety and the purple one. Children delighted in breaking off a sugar cane bar, peeling it with the teeth and then enjoying that rich, fresh sugary flavor of the sugar cane.
I also recall the passion fruit locally called “Granada”. This was a very exotic fruit and quite different from all other fruit trees on the island. Whenever children saw those golden and red passion fruits hanging from the trees, they could not help the temptation of jumping the fence and raiding a few. As for coconuts, those were abundant on the island so kids did not need raid those. You could stop at anyone’s house or any place along the beach and enjoy rich fresh coconut juice as well as savor the juicy white meat.
It is funny but back then if someone caught you raiding a fruit tree, he would not make a big thing out of it. He would probably scold you and that was all. He would not go to your parents or to the police. In other words, all kids did it, even their own so it was mostly considered “child mischief”, not theft. When going to confession on Sunday morning, the first thing one would tell the priest is: “I raided the neighbor’s plum tree”, and good old Father Raszkowski would say: “ There that is very good of you. For your penance pray two Hail Mary’s and five Our Father’s and ask for forgiveness”. I am sure Father listened to those confessions thousands of times in his days at San Pedro twenty five years ago.