Twenty five years ago the community of San Pedro was more Mexican in style and custom. This, of course, is understandable. The history books tell us that the first inhabitants of San Pedro were runaway Mestizos from the "Guerra de las Castas". (The Caste War in Mexico)
The most popular food in the past was corn tortillas and beans. A Sunday or birthday special consisted of tamales. Other favorite dishes were the "relleno", "escabeche", "chirmole", "mole", and "mechado". All of these are still traditional in Mexico and accompanied with tortillas and beans were truly our favorites 25 years ago. Most homes today love the rice and beans with stew chicken and potato salad, which is truly our Belizean dish. But folks also delight in pizza, hamburger, barbecue, pasta, sweet and sour dishes and chow mien, which are Italian, American, and Chinese in origin respectively. Twenty five years ago people loved the Mexican music, especially the "Mariachis" with the "Ranchero" music- the music of the grassroots of Mexico. In San Pedro, boys and girls had their collection of long play records in "rancheras". They sang these tunes during their everyday chores. Radio Belize carried several programs that featured only "rancheras". Today, our children laugh when we play Juan Gabriel's romantic ballads or Vicente Fernandez and Trio los Ponchos. All I hear at home is Ricky Martin, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and Angel and Khris, which I too have learned to enjoy.
Men dressed in regular long pants. A white shirt with long sleeves and neatly tucked in was typical 25 years ago was typical with the Mestizos of Mexico. They also wore hats and some placed the handkerchief around the neck. Today the young boys are seen mostly in short pants- baggy and way down to the knees. The belt is hanging loosely and a cap is worn back way. The shirt or T-shirt must be 2 or 3 sizes larger than the actual size of the bearer. Larger is prettier, and the dirtier the neater. That is the style of modern day singers nowadays.
The women used to dress in regular dresses all the way to the knees- wide, loose and comfortable. Plenty of flower designs were typical of the ladies of San Pedro 25 years ago. Today our women are wearing pants for the most part and dresses are mostly short and tight. Twenty five years ago women did not walk the beaches in swimsuits. The typical Mexican was a "macho" and would not tolerate his girl or his wife to exhibit herself in little clothing. Not so anymore. Our ladies are running up and down the beach in bikinis while husbands sip on beer at the beach party. Our beaches are beginning to look like a little corner of Miami Beach.
The serenade was Mexican. That is gone and has been replaced by the discotheques. Whistling while you work was Mexican. That is gone and has been replaced by ipods. The quinceaños was Mexican- a special event to introduce a girl to society so she can start socializing and dating. That tradition is still practiced today but many young ladies are dancing in the nightclubs at age 12 or thereabout.
And yet further back in the 1930's, our grandparents recollect with gusto the great "vaquerias", a 5-day festival held when the "chicleros" arrived from their 2 to 3 month expeditions in the bush. That is long gone- even before I came into existence. So I guess we will continue to change and to adopt new cultures that will make us part of the 21" Century. Today San Pedro lives very much the cultures of the United States, Europe and Argentina. Who knows what it will look like 25 years from now? I'll remind you if I'm still writing this column into the new millennium.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist