By Angel Nuñez
I have read Danny Vasquez’s book, The Little World of Danny Vasquez, three times and every time I do, I enjoy it with a different perspective. This particular topic on prostitution is very revealing and enjoyable. Be reminded that Danny Vasquez was a Sanpedrano born in 1902 and he lived through these experiences.
Danny writes: When I was a youngster, hardly a man in the village, I was faithful to my wife. Some were, of course, but very few.” Danny went on to explain that those men who had economic control others, in other words the rich employers, used their power and money to seduce the wives and the daughters of the ordinary laboring men. Then Danny writes: “When I was 21, I had a child with a servant girl. I admitted paternity and paid for the child’s maintenance every week until he was old enough to be a man.”
Now listen to this: “Two homosexuals from Corozal used to bring girls to San Pedro for a week. We boys had an orgy for that week. These girls were from prominent families in Corozal and if I mention their names, you would be shocked. These two men from Corozal once brought some women from Payo Obispo (Chetumal) and these women spread venereal disease in the village. You can imagine what it was like in those days before penicillin. These men were caught in terrible pain for months.”
According to Danny there were two prostitutes in San Pedro in those days as well. Strangely enough, they were both Mayas. One lived south of the village and one lived north of the village. They serviced the young men of San Pedro, but occasionally we heard of married men who felt the urge to take a walk north or south of the village after dinner. These women charged a shilling (25 cents) and that was a day’s pay for most men so it was considered expensive.
Want to hear one more anecdote from Danny? Well, he recalls a fisherman who always blew on his conch shell when he returned to San Pedro after a day’s fishing. The people always wondered why he blew on his conch shell until they learned that he knew his wife was entertaining a man in their home. He blew on his shell as he approached his home because he did not want to find the man in his house and be forced to create a scandal.
It might be unbelievable to some but there was unfaithfulness and even prostitution ninety years ago in San Pedro…for one shilling! Ah, now I know why some taxi drivers honk their horns loudly when they are approaching their homes, a practice they learned 25 years ago.