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Those Very Windy Days

Windy days and calm days have special significance to any island but especially to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, where fishing was the way of life and where there was not an inch of asphalt, only sandy streets. Windy days meant first of all that there was going to be good sailing and that fishermen did not have to use the pole nor paddle. With a good breeze fishermen got to their fishing grounds in record time. The Elsa P. could get to Belize City in four hours and the return was only ten hours, a whooping fast trip by all standards 25 years ago.

Today I’ll reach my fishing grounds in a breeze,” said Antoño happily.

“Good for you darling,” said Rosa. “That way you can reserve your strength for diving and hauling those heavy lobster traps which I hope will be full today. And honey, remember to bring some stone crab claws for that delicious salad. Besides you need an aphrodisiac for you seem to be ignoring me lately.”

“Honey, don’t you want me to bring a few old wives too?” teased Antoño.

“You fool around with any old wife and you and she will be running for your lives when I catch both of you with this iron frying pan. You think I will play with any old sweetheart? No buay; I know how to fight for my man,” blurted out Rosa.

“No honey, I mean the old wives…the triggerfish, not women,” Antoño quickly interjected. “I wouldn’t dare betray you honey.”

Antoño whistled all the way to the beach thinking of the easy sailing, and the fishing expedition for that day and even thinking of his wife’s intrepid and surprise request for stone crab claws. He knew he MUST hunt for crab claws. And as for the old wives, it was only a matter of going to the reef and catching a few almost instantly because those triggerfish love the sardines which he had for bait.

In the village the children were out on the streets with the prospects of becoming rich that windy day. In the village when someone lost a coin on the very sandy streets, it was almost impossible to locate it. The same was true of lost rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces. However on windy days (25 knots) many sandy streets were blown away right down to the hard crust. All of the lost items became visible on windy days and that is why windy days were special to the children of San Pedro twenty five years ago.

“I have found 2 fifty cent pieces and a diamond ring,” said Pedro almost ecstatically.

“And I have found 5 shillings (25 cent pieces) and an Indian arrowhead, “said Albertito. He was referring to a piece of obsidian, which villagers thought were shaped by the Mayas for arrowheads. Others called them pieces of lightening.

Trust me, finding a 50 cent piece 25 years ago was a real joy. A 50 cent piece was like Christmas. That coin could purchase a coke for 10 cents, ice with syrup (fresco) for 2 cents, pepitoes for 5 cents, and biscuits at 2 for 5 cents, spearmint chewing gum at 5 cents for a pack of five sticks, and a large bar of chocolate for 15 cents. No wonder the children were eager to be up by five a.m. on windy days to hit the best streets near the store at the corner. Central Park area was a favorite and lucky spot for many children.

“There is a shilling” shouted two boys simultaneously, and a fight would ensue because both of them spotted the 25-cent coin at the same time. Someone would end in this verbal quarrel with his face scratched and someone would have his hair pulled, but the coin would belong to the bigger bully. Indeed windy days caused many fights.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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