By Angel Nuñez
Well you are all aware of the various choices children and teenagers have during the summer vacations here in San Pedro. They include summer classes for those who failed, summer programs like music and sports etc., vacation trips and even working for pocket money for other more disciplined teens. It is two months long and of course one has to find constructive things to do.
So what did children and teenagers do Years Ago in San Pedro? I am going to assure you that it included first and foremost swimming all afternoon, as opposed to swimming after classes on regular days. However in the morning kids were expected to get some firewood for the fire hearth and mom’s cooking. No firewood, no swimming! Summer vacations were during the months of May and June. This was the season of sea grapes and coco plums and kids spent a lot of time in the bush along the coast in search of these juicy, delicious fruits.
Now let’s talk about some real work. During May, dad would be preparing his lobster traps for the opening of the lobster season which was due on July 15 of every year. A regular fisherman would need about 200 traps, so help was always welcome. For me it was mandatory. I was required to build at least five traps and I reached the stage where I could build eight of them and that was without the use of a power saw. Then by the end of June, we enjoyed going with dad to cast the traps on their designated spots and that was a total fun experience.
It was at this same time that the wire fish traps were set up along the coast and every fisherman had his area or spot. Again children and teens in their vacation time would willingly assist dad because this was a learning and fun activity. After this, it meant going to the fish trap every day to experience the adrenaline of “What’s in the trap today?”
There could be anything from a Hawksbill turtle or Loggerhead turtle, a giant jewfish, several large barracudas, or a large school of snappers, mullets, or shads. And listen to this. If there was a large school of fish, it meant a trip to Belize City or Corozal Town to sell them at the market, and this meant that we would be begging to be taken along to the city for this special trip. This meant being at our best behavior - disciplined, hard working, cooperative and lots of sweet words.
As the fishermen prepared their sailing boats for the opening of the lobster season, the boats would be hauled for a paint re-fresher. Once a boat was on land for about a month, it would dry and the seams would open so much that when launched into the sea, the boat would take in water until it sank. They would be anchored out there for about a week for the lumber to swell and become water tight again. Listen to this! Children delighted going into these boats and swimming in them as if having our own private pools in the middle of the sea. Did the owners mind? Not at all because we would also help to bail them out with buckets once the boats were buoyant. All of this and more for the boys and girls during the summer vacations!
Girls, of course, had a few different activities. It was during summer that they would get extra lessons from mom on the art of embroidery, knitting, stitching and even sewing by hand and with sewing machines. Girls also learned the art of cooking and baking and by the end of their vacations they could make some delicious sweet buns, cakes, and even sweet potato pudding. Once these arts were mastered moms remarked, “You are now ready for matrimony, my dear.”
Did I miss out on something? Helping dad to paint the house and the boat. Helping mom in sewing some underwear for dad and the boys, and even the new shirts for the boys who were due to commence classes. Ah, before I forget, going outside the reef trolling for barracuda and king fish; and while trolling, keeping an alert eye for a Loggerhead turtle. This was a delight because it meant meat for the table - a sweet change in menu for as long as turtle meat lasted. Spotting a turtle was exciting. Striking with harpoon or diving for one was a moment of high adrenaline.
Killing a turtle and processing the meat was an event the whole village anticipated and attended. And cooking a good pot of turtle stew or gravy was something to celebrate. Trust me, everybody loved turtle meat. So much for the summer vacations Years Ago in San Pedro.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarius Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush –Richie’s Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery -Rum, Coffee & Cigar House
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