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A Trip To The Great City

In this issue I wish to reprint a page from my book Twenty Five Years Ago to re-live the memory of part of the life of Tio Pil, who has just been laid to eternal rest. Tio Pil was compadre of Alberto and Rosa because he had taken Baby Albertito for his Christening or the Sacrament of Baptism.

Six months after the birth of this last child, Albertito developed a throat infection with fever and diarrhea that no known home remedy could cure. Rosa tried boiling young and tender coconuts and the bark of the sea grape, but these herbal medicines did not work. Finally Antoño insisted that Rosa should take him to Belize City to have Doctor Guzinski treat him. Doctor Guzinski was a German doctor, one of only three in the Belize City.

Rosa got up at midnight to board the Elsa P., San Pedro’s only cargo boat which also served as the island’s passenger boat that provided this service with distinction. Tio Pil, the owner and captain of the Elsa P., liked to travel in the wee hours of the morning so that he could arrive in the city by dawn and make full use of the entire day loading, his boat with merchandise and all types of cargo. He arrived on board at twelve thirty and was ready to hoist sail.

“Todos listos? (Everybody ready?) Today we have a good breeze, so it will take us about four hours to the city,” smiled Tio Pil as his assistant, Joe Alamilla, hoisted the main sail. Each passenger paid fifty cents to Mr. Joe, except Rosa.

“How can I charge you when Albertito is my God son,” said Tio Pil. “No Rosa, take him to the doctor and then buy him a little toy at Brodies Store with the fifty cents.

Each passenger found a good spot to lie down. One man lay down on top of some empty bottles that were being taken to the city to be refilled with Bradley’s lemonade. A young man laid down on top of some sacks full of coconuts that were going to be delivered to Tuto Alamilla’s warehouse. Sseveral other women and children found comfortable spots by leaning against boxes or against the boom of the sail which was rocked gently by the wind as the Elsa P. sailed along. Rosa who was a special friend of Tio Pil was given the privilege of lying down on a nice flat board on deck.

As the boat started moving south on its way to the city on that fresh and comfortable morning, those lying down started admiring the stars and the planets, which looked so bright and huge in the darkness of the night. They admired the falling stars and were amazed at the moving satellites, which were thought of as being stars.

And after an hour or so of traveling, all you could hear was the snoring of the passengers and the music coming from Tio Pil’s battery operated radio, which was tuned to Harlingin, Texas with Tex Mex accordion music, and the lapping of the small waves against the side of the Elsa P. which sailed majestically across the ocean that reflected the bright silver light of the moon. Only Tio Pil remained awake and on foot at the rudder sipping some hot tea which he had brought in his thermos. Even his assistant, curled up snugly between some sacks of coconuts, snored comfortably as the Elsa P. continued on its journey to the city. How romantic it was to travel to the city of Belize twenty five years ago and all thanks to the late and legendary Tio Pil.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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