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Fun in the Kraal

Most people in San Pedro today would not know what a kraal is, so we will have to draw a diagram of one to give you the full idea. Only the richer people in San Pedro had kraals, but the common children enjoyed it the most, so a kraal was very important to all of us poor kids living in the 1950’s.

A business lady from Belize City, Mrs. Serafina Encalada had a kraal right in front of her home and the Blakes had one which was mostly used by the nuns when they visited the island for their Easter or Summer vacations.

So you are still wondering what is a kraal, right? It is a swimming spot, sort of like a swimming pool built right in the sea. It comprised an enclose area about 30 feet wide by about 75 feet long built with pimento sticks or any type of bush sticks and posts sticking about three feet above the sea level.

To be able to walk all around the kraal there was a one foot board fixed on the edges. At the beginning of the kraal there was a small dressing room and at the far end a platform where the rich people could sunbathe either in a hammock or recliner chair. You can imagine the “rich and famous” feeling one got by owning a kraal and enjoying it to the fullest.

But why have a kraal? Well, the sea grass bed was removed to provide an absolutely white sandy swimming spot. It ensured that predators like sharks would not attack a swimmer. It also guaranteed that the owners would have privacy and be able to swim unmolested by anyone. It guaranteed that they would not be stung by sea urchins or sting rays, which live in the sea grass beds.

Let me put it simply, it was like owning your own swimming pool right in the sea just a stone throw from the beach. It also made you owner of a spot in the sea, which is supposedly government or public property.

The owners of a kraal obviously enjoyed their facility and status, but that is not to say that we the local boys and girls did not. There was a huge sign that read: “Private Property”, and there was a large fence and gate right across the pier leading up to the kraal to prevent people from going up the kraal. But that was not barrier enough to prevent the boys and girls from going up the kraal to enjoy it the fullest in the absence of the owners. On Sundays the kraal was full to capacity with swimmers ages 3 to 15 looking like a swimming pool at Holliday Inn.

During the week mostly boys used the kraal for swimming. In the evenings and at night we also used the kraal to cast our fishing lines. Unfortunately there were some kids that left their bait and mess on the deck of the kraal, which was what the owners detested and thus the reason for the sign prohibiting the use of the kraal by others. To the owners and the person in charge of safekeeping the kraal, Twenty Five Years Ago offers an apology.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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