Close your eyes and go back. Go way way back to those days. I am talking about those days when you used to get up in the morning to the smell of coconut husk burning on the fire hearth (fogon) and the smell of manatee sizzling in the frying pan and mom baking fresh Johnny cakes for the morning breakfast.
Close your eyes and see children spreading out the green coconut husks all over the yard to dry them out in the sun while another brother of yours is grinding corn with a hand mill so that mom can start baking the corn tortillas.
Those days when we used to swim in the sea everyday. I mean every day, and twice a day during the summer vacations from school. A whipping was not a real punishment. Remember those times when dad told you that you could NOT SWIM in the sea and that was a real punishment. And the few of us smarties, like me, Honorable Heredia, Adolfito, Felix, Tacin, Manuel and Felipe Ancona, Joe Alamilla, Wilber and Carlitos Marin and Roberto Bradley would accidentally fall in the sea and then tell our dads that our brother pushed us in so that he would get the lashing.
Remember the days when we had to go to church to attend mass once a month on Sunday. Those who did not go had better prepare their butts for a good whipping by the teacher on Monday morning. Remember seeing Father Raszkowski arriving to San Pedro by skiff- his clothes soaked wet and his hair plastered to his head so that he looked like a trembling wet chicken. But he was smiling!
The days when anybody could whip you. Your dad could whip you for serious mischief. You mom did once in a while. Your uncle could whip you if he caught doing mischief on the street like breaking glass bottles or tying noisy tin cans to a dog's tail. Your teacher also lashed you if you did not learn your mathematical tables, or any one of your spellings, or if your fingernails were dirty. Any adult could whip you in the street for rudeness and nobody questioned it but that was nothing compared to the fate that awaited you at home. Remember that one dreaded teacher ( It was a woman) who used to sink her fingernails into your skin until you bled? And then one day "someone" pulled the chair so she would fall on the sand?
Remember when we used to go to school with no shoes and that was normal. You got a good teasing if you ever wore shoes. Then when you used to go to the great metropolis, Belize City, you ended walking with your shoes in your hands because you could not tolerate the painful blisters on your feet. Remember when you could not purchase a shoe in San Pedro, but who cared? Who cared if he was not properly combed. Most boys only combed their hair because the teacher would whip them if they didn't.
Remember when the open plaza in front of the Catholic church was a huge field where boys played football, and to hit a homerun in softball you had to hit it over Daddy's club and land the ball in the sea? Those darn days when the softball match ended because the owner of the ball went away with his ball because his team was losing, and the game ended because there was no other softball. Sometimes at the saca Chispas Field a game would be suspended for up to half an hour because everyone went looking for the ball that was tipped by a batter and lost in the nearby bushes.
Oh, what good old memories of our good old Belizean life in San Pedro 25 years ago, before modern civilization spoil us!
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist