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When We Got Tired Of Eating Fish

Jump into your hammock and close your eyes and go back, I mean go way way back to enjoy good old Belizean San Pedro style of living. Remember those days when daddy used to be a hunter. We don’t have hunters today. Whenever the family was somewhat tired of eating fish, dad and his friends used to go hunting for sea turtles. “Vamos a buscar un caguamo”, said dad. And off they went in the sailing boat outside the reef hunting for turtles. A few hours later they were sure to come to shore with one or two turtles.

I am talking about those days when everybody had his favorite spot to hunt for barracuda. Hunters have to be patient, so the hunters would circle over and over those spots with their tow line and hook until they struck. On a lucky day the fisherman would come home with half a dozen barracudas. Remember those days when eating barracuda was not considered eating fish. Oh, no! It was sport fishing and barracuda, mackerel, wahoo, and king fish steaks were a special culinary delicacy.

Oh those days when there was bountiful meat at the table, without spending one penny. A turtle would give you some 75 pounds of meat and as I write I close my eyes and remember the steaks, gravy, grilled smoked turtle meat, and even the meat loaf.

But wait, since we are talking about hunting, close your eyes and inhale to smell that delicious manatee meat that every household in San Pedro enjoyed. “Vamos a buscar un manatin,” dad used to say. An adult 12 foot manatee yielded about 300 pounds of meat and like the turtle my mouth waters as I think of steaks, gravies, and barbecues. Remember those days when a block away everybody knew you were about to enjoy fried manatee meat since you could smell it frying a mile away. And if fried with coconut oil, forget it. Everything else froze to pay attention only to that breakfast, lunch or even dinner.

I remember those days when if you had a fish on line and it got away, (not released) our dad wanted to whip you. You could not afford to let go or release a tarpon, barracuda, bone fish or any kind of fish for that matter. Catching fish by hand line was not a hobby. It was an art- an art that our dad expected you to master. And every child mastered it, some better than others. But if you released a fish, you would hear about it for a long time. Today, if you don’t release it, you will hear about it for a long time. Oh, how things change and I love to recall how it was 25 years ago. But I have not finished yet. I have a whole long list to recollect and enjoy.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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