25 Years Ago
In past columns we have seen how Sanpedranos dealt with the problems of some animals that became pests. We have seen the bottle with a hole in the lid to catch house flies. Then we used the smoke buckets to drive away the bothersome mosquitoes. Well, have you ever thought that pigeons can become pests too.
My grandfather used to say, “The mosquitoes deserve to live too.” And my father used to say, “How can such a tiny animal like a mosquito bother you?” But the real problem is not the mosquito. When you slap and kill one, ten others come to you. Got the point? The point is that we have always had problems with mosquitoes, even 25 years ago when we had no fogger, insecticide sprays, aerial spraying, and not even a town council to complain to or about.
Either the people of old days were made of good material, their genes were early death proof, or they had some fine secret that really worked, but the people of old lived quite some more years than our present generation. And my point is that they used to do quite a lot of the very same things doctors will tell us today not to do. So what exactly gave them that early death immunity?
In our present day San Pedro we speak a lot of Spanglish which is basically a lot of Spanish with some English words mixed into it. The reason for Spanglish is that we are living in a Spanish-speaking community influenced a lot by an English speaking environment such as television, radio, newspapers, education and street talk. So for us it is natural to say, “Quiero huevo con bacon”, (bacon being the English word for tocino).
This is the graduation season, the month of June. Back in time there was no graduations in San Pedro, even though we had one R.C. School with about 125 students and one Adventist school with about ten students. Some boys and girls never made it to Standard VI, the last year in primary education. But they were required by law to stay in school until they were fourteen years of age.
Make no mistake, if there is a fire you are bound to know when the fire truck with its siren flies by. And in other cities you know the different calls of the ambulance, fire truck or ice cream vendor. And so it was twenty five years ago in San Pedro when there was none of the above, nor radio, television nor even electricity.
The other day there was one single housefly inside the house after we had hashed some shark meat. It is the baby shark incidentally, called “cazon” by the local fishermen. Whenever you fry fish, it tends to attract a lot of flies. So I asked my wife for the swatter before she got into a frenzy trying to kill a little fly. And thus I remember how we dealt with flies 25 years ago when we did not have any Baygon, Sheltox, Raid, or any of those insecticides.
This new discovery a sink hole that came about just at the time of the earthquake has many people associating a sink hole to a “cenote”. A “cenote” is a depression in the ground communicating with a subterranean passage (especially in limestone) and formed by collapse of a large cave or a large chamber in a cave. And did you know that we have many “cenotes” on Ambergris Caye? If this hole is on land it is called a cenote.
Fisherman lies, they used to call them. Ever wondered why? Because the fish that got away was usually the largest fish of the day’s expedition. The fisherman would never acknowledge his lack of expertise as the reason why the fish got away. No. it was always that the fish was so very large that it burst the line. Or the fish was so big that it put up a terrific fight until he had to let it loose.
Part two of the Embarcaderos will take us from the garbage dump sites to the toilets over the lagoon.
There is a famous embarcadero in Mexico known as Xochimilco, a romantic waterway and tourist attraction. There you board large canoes or rafts which take you to a pleasurable ride accompanied by Mariachi music, Tecate, Superior or Carta Blanca, tacos and tamales, flowers, souvenirs and photographers. They compare in beauty to the waterways and River Walk in San Antonio, Texas, or Venice, Italy. The embarcadero is the place where you embark to go on your pleasure ride.
It was said that one mother-in-law knew that the child was her grandson because her daughter carried the baby in her womb, but the other mother-in-law was not totally sure if the child was for her son. But all these suspicions and disagreements between grandmothers disappeared when the husband suffered “bascas” during his wife’s pregnancy.
It Is true that twenty five years ago there was very little beef and only some pork and some poultry on the island, but our avid hunters tell us that there was plenty of game meat. This has been confirmed to me by Sammy Gonzalez, today’s most avid sports hunter in San Pedro. Our Mestizo ancestors ate only some of them, but the fact remains that there was still plenty, even today.
The last column on Nurse Neria Arceo, our first local nurse on the Island, has prompted friends to ask who were firsts in other areas. Although I have written about these with short descriptions about 12 years ago, I thought perhaps many of you missed it, especially newcomers to San Pedro, so here is a summarized list to satisfy your normal curiosity. These people and institutions that set the pace for development in San Pedro.
There is always a little spice of curiosity in knowing who the first one was as I am sure all of you remember who the first one was to give you your first kiss. So we wonder who was the first local airplane pilot, the first gift shop, first dive shop, first hotel etc. And today I would like to offer you something about our first Sanpedrana medical practitioner, Nurse Neria Arceo (deceased). Neria was born in San Pedro just around 1950 (- or +)She was raised in San Pedro by her dad, Mr.
Back in the 1950’s, the Easter festivities were a big deal in San Pedro. Even though there were no hotels during those days, the entire village was turned into a hotel to accommodate the hundreds of friends/visitors from Belize City, Cayo, Orange Walk and Corozal Town.
In the first part of the 20th century, from 1900 to about 1960, we observed 12 hours of earth hour, not voluntarily, but by force. Nobody flicked off the switch because there were no switches, no power generators, and no electricity. Of course, life was so different in those days. While today it might seem as a great inconvenience, in those days it was beautiful and romantic because nobody missed what had never been there.
Yeah, that’s right, while it was every household’s custom to raise chickens and ducks to some extent, the children of twenty five years ago had other more interesting things to do, at least in the area of fun. Catching a hen or rooster was only fun when the hen was stubborn and insisted in flying over the fence and across the neighbor’s yard. However, when today’s ten- year old’s might be interested in performing some computer skill or composing a poem, when we were ten years old, we were only interested in “ketching den maclalas”.
Lately I have been hearing a rooster crowing early in the morning in the San Pablo area where I live. And last week while listening to Love FM early morning show, I heard the crow of a cock via the telephone as a country caller talked into the show. And I remembered how twenty five years ago there was crowing of roosters all over the village at different times of the early morning up until sunrise.
I have an autographed copy of Danny Vasquez’s book in which he writes of his life in San Pedro. An avid musician himself, guitarist and later saxophonist, he deals with the art that cuts across language, religion, race and social barriers- and that is music.