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.
Twenty five years ago you had to deal personally with your mosquito problems. Here’s how it happened. Each family had a metal bucket or two to light up something to create some smoke which drove the mosquitoes away. Coconut husks created a light smoke. If you added some green leaves or grass you created a medium density smoke. Better yet, if you added a green coconut husk, that created a heavy smoke which was guaranteed to repel every mosquito from your house and yard, more or less in a 50 yard radius. So just imagine the scene- family members and friends sitting at the verandah or in front of the house happily conversing as a container with smoke effectively puffs out smoke clouds that will drive away the mosquitoes but not the people. I don’t know of lady or child 25 years ago that would have said, “I don’t like this smoke.” There was no choice- the smoke or the mosquitoes.
There were buckets with smoke at every birthday party, novenas, even at weddings. Breakfast, lunch and supper were made pleasant with a smoke bucket just outside the door. Now for a few more interesting details! Add some wet cloth into the bucket and you get an intense smoke, but the odor is so awful, it will drive your friends away. Add the entire coconut with the meat, and you get a thick smoke and the odor was okay for it smelled of your mom’s cooking with coconut oil. However there was this bushy plant growing abundantly along the beach called Rosemary; we called it “Romero”. The Romero spiny leaves gave an odor almost like the incense that is burnt in church for special religious rites, and this smoke was used for special occasions. In my family we wanted every day to be special, so we kept a sack full of Romero leaves always handy during the mosquito season.
You will ask me, “What about newborn babies and infants who cannot tolerate this smoke. Well, they were kept under a mosquito net we called in Spanish a “pabellon” (pronounced pabeyon). You see, Sanpedranos had solutions even for mosquitoes 25 years ago. Look out for the coming issues of this column, same newspaper, same time, where you’ll get the solutions for rats, stray dogs, stray cats, houseflies, stubborn pigs, stubborn chickens, rude children, flocks of pigeons, noisy “parenderos” (serenaders), mean, inconsiderate policemen, and a few other problematic situations. You name which one you want first. Until next week, happy reading of “Twenty Five Years Ago”, Ambergris Today, also on the internet.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist