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Early Life In Ambergris Caye

By Angel Nuñez

The peaceful, quaint, little fishing village of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye woke up to a spectacular morning. The silver rays of the early morning sun were reflecting in the emerald green sea that spread out like a giant mirror between the beach and the reef. The picturesque village of some fifty thatch houses was breathing the fresh air coming from the Barrier Reef of Belize only half a mile away. The reef gave the picture of innocence with only a gentle roar of waves breaking into a continuous line of foam. Several fishermen made preparations to either sail or paddle their way by small dory down south to their fishing grounds. Midway between the shoreline and the reef, you could see hungry sailing boats rolling gently over small waves as they proceeded towards the fish traps to get their fill. Three pelicans were swimming gracefully about one hundred feet from the beach occasionally dipping their beaks into the water to get their fill of sardines that were swimming in large schools. And along the coast intertwined among coconut trees, several thatch houses could be seen puffing light grey smoke, their first signs of life in the village. The smell of smoke produced by the burning of coconut husk blended with the appetizing odor of fried fish as women went to the wells to fetch some water for the morning tea. The black and white frigate birds were beginning to appear in the morning blue sky to commence their daily hunt of fish along the beach. San Pedro was waking up to a peaceful and serene April morning.

It was the year 1950 and Doña Rosa, (Mrs. Rosa) who was in her ninth month of pregnancy was beginning to have labor pains for her third child, whom she was hoping would be her final one as she did not want to imitate the steps of her mother-in-law who was only forty five years old and already had ten boys and one bouncing baby girl. Her husband Antoño had indicated to Rosa that he was hoping for at least a baseball team, meaning nine boys because the more men in the family the more hands there would be to put fish and bread on the table. Walking nervously between the kitchen and the house, Rosa called the attention of Antoño who had just returned from his day’s fishing trip. He was a bit weary and worried that his catch had only been two sacks of lobster tails weighing about 150 pounds, which at ten cents per pound, would net him only fifteen dollars. With a can of milk priced at 8 cents and flour 6 cents, this was considered a whopping catch for the day, but not for Antoño, who was used to netting 300 pounds each day. Besides a gallon of oil paint had just been raised to ten dollars and the roll of chicken wire used for the fish trap now cost 35 dollars. The cost of toilet paper was…wait a minute, there was no toilet paper in use. People crumpled newspaper or old magazines or better yet cut up small pieces of cloth from old clothing. This was the closest people came to toilet paper in Antoño’s house and indeed in every humble household in San Pedro.

Editor’s note: With permission of the publisher, this column is an extract of the opening chapter of the book “Twenty Five Years Ago”, by Author Angel Nuñez.

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarious Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush -Richies Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery

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