25 Years Ago
There are many forms of transportation on la Isla Bonita but this one has to be the most creative one. This breadwinner constructed his very first mobile craft shop. This craftsman travels from Boca del Rio to Central Park everyday where he displays his creative arts & crafts. This vehicle is not only great & amusing but it’s the perfect example of island life and also a very important statement for today, which is - “Going Green Equals a Healthy Earth”.
Oooops, I thought. Ambergris Today is coming up with a new and exciting column. I better sharpen up with my skills or that column can swallow me and send me to anonymity. And so I thought of writing this week about a topic that interests everyone, especially women.
As I reminisce about Christmas 25 years ago, I find out with a sense of nostalgia some aspects that have disappeared from the goof old fashioned Christmas Belizean style and in particular San Pedro style. The first one that comes to mind is the religious aspect celebrating Christmas. The excitement started on December 15 with the famous “Posadas”, which was the re-enactment of the Holy Family looking for an inn in Bethlehem but could not find any. A large procession comprised of adults and lots of children went to this house and in song and music asked for a place to stay in the inn.
As Christmas comes around the corner, I reminisce to my childhood Christmas days, and I will start by emphatically stating that they were not as extravagant as today’s, but they were certainly a lot of fun and everyone eagerly awaited its coming. Let me break it in parts- food and goodies, dressing up, toys, the religious, entertainment and traditions.
During the days of the Silver Township celebration of San Pedro Town, the name of Louis Sylvestre Cuz was repeatedly heard on the talk shows, the street, and on stage the night of the awards event. To the older folks, Cuz needs no introduction. He is a legendary figure in San Pedro, though not a Sanpedrano. However, the younger folks and new comers to San Pedro should know a little more about Louis Sylvestre, so here it goes.
Do people have spirits that remain roaming around the earth after one dies? Yes they do. How can I be so certain? Well my father felt them back in 1932 one year after the devastating hurricane of 1931. He could not say that he saw them because he would be telling a lie since spirits or ghosts cannot be seen. My dad and his older brother, Uncle Polo, were up at 3 a.m. that morning in November and were at the main pier (the only one) a few years before Daddy’s Club was opened.
At one time I wrote about several fables like the story of the giant lobster whose shell was used as a dory. But these are legends, so I did not wish to place these other happenings in that category. I prefer to call these strange happenings, and leave you with the decision to believe or not. Say for example twenty five years from now, in the year 2035 someone tells you about the sink hole that appeared or was formed the morning of the earthquake. Would you take that as a fable or as a real happening?
No! Not Really! I don’t think there was a recession in the 1940’s and 50’s, but everyone behaved and lived as if there was one, so we did save some money and in the process helped our families and the country. You might ask, "How did this work?" Well read on.
I did ask for feedback on the story about courting, call it romance if you wish, twenty five years ago, and I got several comments. I also realize that I promised for this week to give you the details for the actual courting visits of the young man to the girl’s home but I will skip it for next week to bring you more on this romance.
When a guy realized that he liked this particular girl, he made his plan to try to reach her to communicate this message. He could not meet her at high school because there was no high school. Nor could he do it at a dance or discotheque because here were no discotheques and dances were only held once in a blue moon like Christmas and Easter.
A lot of friends who like to read Twenty Five Years Ago like to ask me to write things or times when we did not have certain things like airplanes, electricity, ice or vehicles. And believe me I love to write about those times which I consider so romantic and idealistic. So it is with pride that I write about the good old days of this tiny fishing village when there was NO CRIME. Trust me, I could do without ice or vehicles today and in the same light I am sure most people of San Pedro are nostalgic about those goooood old days.
Folklore stories and myths have a reason. We have seen how the Alux was meant to play tricks and scare farmers and bushmen so that they would be kind to strangers whom they met on the fields. Then there was La Llorona designed to scare little children and keep them out of the bush and dark solitary places. Then the Tata Balan also scared children so that they would not go to the bush alone.
Llorona-This is what they would call you today and it was what we called those persons who were easy to cry. I mean you look at them and just say: “You will cry right now,” and you would see tears running down their cheeks. Of course if it was a boy you call him “Lloron”. There were boys who cried if they lost a marble game, and a girl who would cry if you simply tell her that she is not allowed to take part in the game. And then when you saw them coming down the street, everyone would say: “Alli viene la llorona.” (There comes the cry baby.)
Twenty Five Years Ago there were tales of many legendary characters and each one for a particular reason. The Alux, of whom I wrote last week, was intended for the villagers, especially the farmers who met strangers in the fields and bush, and they were to be kind to them for if they got the Alux angry, they would play scary tricks on the unkind people. Now there was another Maya legendary character, El Tata Balan, who was intended to keep “hard ears children” (stubborn children) away from the bush.
Espanto is a Spanish word meaning frighten/frightening. Twenty five years ago if someone were to invite you to spend the night at Cayo Espanto, you would ponder whether you would or not because of the presence of the Alux (pronounced Aloosh) on that island.
Saturday night as I enjoyed the Miss San Pedro Beauty, Elegance, Talent, Courage, and Intelligence Pageant, I could not help but recall to mind the use of swimsuits twenty five years ago. I noticed how those lovely young ladies modeled in swimsuits with so much poise. They seemed so comfortable; I bet some people in the audience were more nervous than them. I asked two friends of mine, two ladies who are over their fifties and who had themselves participated in a Miss San Pedro Pageant if they remembered their time on stage.
My last column dealt with the much dreaded practice of de-worming kids with Castor oil or “Purga” as it was called back then. Now if you think that was torment enough, I was reminded by a friend who just read that article about another ordeal that plagued us children, and that was the “lombricera”.
I can call this story: THE WORST EPISODE OF A CHILD’S LIFE TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO, and that is because today I will tell you the worst story of my life and I am sure it was so for all children. If there was one thing I detested of our childhood days in San Pedro and all over Belize, it was drinking that dreadful castor oil called “purga” to get rid of intestinal worms.
Was talking to a friend the other day about things she eats and things she won’t eat. Of course we concentrated in game meat, which goes according to culture. What one culture eats another one won’t, and I found it interesting that at times one does not eat a certain food, but eats something quite similar. Take for example, the Creoles of Belize love to eat land crab which we in San Pedro think is awful and nasty. However, here in San Pedro we eat the stone crabs, which we find a delicacy in soup, stew, or in a salad. Hmmm, that is deeleecious.
By Angel Nuñez