25 Years Ago

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Way back I history, priests visited San Pedro Village once in a while, and a bishop only came for confirmation every five years or so. The visit of the Catholic bishop usually coincided with the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul.

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Someone asked: “Did bars come to San Pedro before the Banks?” Before I answer this question I want to say that the bars of yester years operated under tighter regulations than today and certainly did not include some of these activities that I hear we have today like destroying the tables, monkey climbing on a pole and demonstrations against the heat by taking off all the clothes. (I hear about this; have not gone to confirm)

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I guess that the presence of so many banks in San Pedro speaks of the booming economy of the Island. So does that mean that when there was only one bank, the economy was very bad? Not really. You have to start with one, right? Some parts of this story will really make you nostalgic of those good old days, but then, aren’t we very happy with all the banking services today?

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I have many examples to prove that “Older was Better” but I am not going to talk about computers, cameras, I pods, cell phones, fax machines, printers nor stereo systems because I don’t have a chance to prove this point. But I guess I can on a few topics. Take a look at some latest technology with electric meters and paraphernalia. You need to have a metal box with 2 or 4 slots for the meters. This is fitted with a special pipe and PVC weather heads, through which special coded wires are run that will be connected to the main line on the pole.

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What do these have in common- post cards, wedding invitations, newspapers, radio, television, computers, telephones, and chalkboards and smoke? They are all forms of communication, right? Well, you might not readily conceive how smoke is a form of communication, but do you remember the smoke signals sent by Indians? Okay, now you’ve got it.

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I used to like politics when it was all about service. Sad to say, I feel that today for many people it is all about what one can get and how one can get more. This is not a criticism of anyone, but a comparison of today with the politics of yesterday when village councilors and even town board members collected not one cent.

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In my book “Twenty Five Years Ago” I spoke about chores that children had to do early morning before going to school and repeat it at the end of the day. Here is how it happened and why.

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A few weeks ago, I started on a strange phenomenon, a floating conch, which is not a fable but a really strange happening. And there are more. How many of you have swum in the Caribbean Sea? It is really salty, right? Now tell me if you have ever been swimming and encounter a batch of fresh water 15 or 20 feet underwater. Have you? If you have, you might have considered this a very strange phenomenon. And if you haven’t, you are probable saying, “This guy is nuts or what?”

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Most tourists enjoy different types of fishing. Some go drop line fishing which requires patience lots of time and good luck. Others like to go trolling; this is done by towing a line with hook and bait and also requires patience, good luck and many times power to pull in a large barracuda, kingfish, wahoo, or sailfish. A third type is fly fishing which requires the art of spinning the rod and catching that prized bone fish or tarpon. The early skin divers of San Pedro also enjoyed spear fishing and developed the art of using a spear gun or the Hawaiian sling.

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In this issue I wish to reprint a page from my book Twenty Five Years Ago to re-live the memory of part of the life of Tio Pil, who has just been laid to eternal rest. Tio Pil was compadre of Alberto and Rosa because he had taken Baby Albertito for his Christening or the Sacrament of Baptism.

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When Don Anselmo, our storyteller, saw the giant deer with the trees growing on its back, he immediately remembered that earlier that year he had shot a deer with palms seeds as pellets. Amazed at this strange occurrence, he thought of catching the animal alive so that his friends would believe his story. On second thought he had the idea of catching the beast with a lasso and raising it in his backyard so that he could later cut the palmetto sticks and leaves for house repairs.

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The story last week of the giant lobster tail might have remained only a tale of San Pedro, but this next one told by the same don Anselmo Marin San Pedro’s best storyteller in the 1950’s might be too large a potato for the frying pan. Here it is from his own mouth as he recounted it over and over at the barber shop.

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Some stories are too good to believe, and this is certainly one that someone had wished, and he used to swear that it was true. This senior citizen used to sit at the one and only barber shop in San Pedro and entertained friends and patrons with his tales. Don Chico’s barber shop was located exactly at Ambergris Seaside Real Estate.

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I looked at Ambergris Today and noticed all the gifts and goodies for the first baby to be born in 2009, and I went, “Wow! All of that for one baby. How fortunate! If that was done twenty five years ago, it would have been considered like winning the Lotto. Indeed the coming of a newborn and raising the baby was very simple, especially in terms of gifts.

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As strange as it might sound, as weird as you might think, as much as you might cringe your nose, these things happened twenty five years ago, and though you might not have a need to do that today, at least you will understand why it was so useful back in the 1940’s and 50’s.

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Even before the break of dawn which never arrived on the morning of November 1, 1961, everyone knew that Hurricane Hattie had left severe repercussions. And the villagers were eager to know. It was still raining hard at about seven that morning when my dad and a whole lot of neighborhood villagers set forth to discover the unwanted. Back Street (Pescador Drive) was covered with rubbles, thatch leaves, some sheets of zinc, large branches and several small thatch houses leaning on the ground, half inside their yards and the other half on the street.

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It is ironical that there being a strong wind outside, it would be so hot inside a building. But with all the windows and doors locked, the body heat of some fifty persons, the lit kerosene lanterns, and the barometric pressure falling, the temperature inside the shelter was about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. At one corner of the building, the murmuring prayers of a group of women were drowned by the howling wind and the clash of thunder.

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Forty seven years ago on October 31, 1961, British Honduras, now Belize, was struck by a powerful and monstrous hurricane that changed the face of the entire country. It ravaged havoc everywhere destroying the citrus and banana plantations of the south, the sugarcane fields of the north and the cattle all about. In San Pedro it wiped out the coconut industry and destroyed a blossoming fishing industry largely dependent on fish traps and lobster pats. I can close my eyes and re-live it when I was only eleven years old.

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Last week I heard David Marin and Julio Sosa at the morning show at The Reef Radio happily discussing about tales and legends about the month of November, considered in Belize and in Mexico as well as most Latin America, as the month of the Dead. November first is dedicated to the souls of children and November second to the souls of adults.

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I see some strange things done with animals today, some of which I agree with and some not. I see animals dressed in skirts and sunglasses. I think that is cute. I see animals painted with the flag and emblem of Belize. I think that is disrespectful to Belizeans. I see people sleep with their dogs or cats or allow them to sleep in bed with them and to lick their faces. I think this is gross. I am not saying it is wrong. It is just my opinion on such things.

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