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Things We Take for Granted – Post Office and Medical Facilities

By Angel Nuñez

Can you imagine living in San Pedro today without some basic services? I know, you would die or live complaining every day until you die. Well, it was not so bad, but folks in San Pedro in the past had to live without several things that today we take for granted. I know it is nice to have them, but folks lived without them as if they never missed them. Here are a few in brief and then, by popular request, we’ll detail them week by week.

No Post Office.
Today:  “At what time does the post office open for service?”
Past:  “When does the cargo boat leave for Belize City?”
Services of the post office were so crucial a few years ago but even that is becoming a second choice with the advent of email and social network which connects us to the world in a matter of seconds.  So how did the folks in San Pedro manage in the 1950’s with no post office and the postal services thereof?

First of all let us establish one important fact?  Did anybody ever need to communicate with someone in the United States?  The answer is emphatically, “No.”  How about communicating by letter with someone in Belize City? Again it was practically zero.  However a few of the store owners or business people did need to send order letters to the business houses they dealt with. I know you are eager to know how this was done and can’t wait for the expanded version with the whole story, so I will give you only a sneak peak. The letter was sent via Tio Pil or Mr. Felipe Paz (+) who was captain/owner of the Elsa P. So technically speaking, Tio Pil provided the first delivery of letters to Belize City and back, and this was without any stamps.

Now can I now write about the selling of stamps, the posting of letters, the use of mail boxes, the registering of letters and the receipt of boxes of mail from abroad?  Yes I can but until another issue because this one is the story “no post office in San Pedro.”

Things We Take for Granted – Post Office and Medical Facilities

Today:  What do you do if your child has a virus, serious diarrhea, and vomiting?   You would take him to the Poly Clinic or to one of the few doctors in town to be diagnosed and get some medication or injection.
Past:  Under the same circumstances, your child would have the visit of grandmother who would either bring or offer a homemade herbal recipe. 

Women needing prenatal attention went to a “partera” (midwife) to get a good massage and fix things up, whatever needed fixing.  The women who were ready to give birth sent word to their partera or midwife who would come over to their home to share in the miracle of birth and offer her expertise at no charge.  “It is nothing,” she would say. “Just save me a few chickens for Christmas and a few pounds of pork whenever you kill your hog… and some chicharon too.”

A person in a real emergency long ago in San Pedro had to be transported to Belize City on a sail boat.  This was a five-hour journey and taken at one’s risk with no other alternative. Now listen to this!  Because people in San Pedro were ignorant to illnesses like cancer, heart failure, epilepsy, stroke, to name a few, they assumed that the person was suffering from an evil spell, obeah, evil wind, evil eye and had some unexplainable seizure or convulsions.  And that is how things went with no clinic or hospital in San Pedro.

Things We Take for Granted – Post Office and Medical Facilities

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Jose Luis Zapata Photography –Richie’s Stationery -Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush
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