25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE   BY ANGEL NUÑEZ

Those Famous Siestas


I
cannot operate well without a siesta, and I imagine that many of you cant either. Some people will tell you that if they take a siesta, they wake up miserable. I am the opposite. If I do not get my 15-minute siesta, I can only function at 50 percent. Just in case you are wondering, a siesta is a Spanish word that became so popular that it found its way into the English dictionary. My thesaurus defines the word siesta as a rest, a nap, sleep, snooze, 40 winks, midday sleep, catnap, a doze, catch a few zs, put your feet up. They all describe the different forms people take their siestas. I can take a siesta on an office chair, with my head on a table, sitting on a regular chair with my head leaned back, in a hammock (my favorite choice), on a bed, during an airplane flight, in a skiff ride, and have once or twice taken it standing up. My favorite story on siestas is in a store in Belize city. While my wife was shopping I sat on a box close to a fan and dozed off for about 15 minutes right after lunch.

Taxi drivers take a siesta as they wait for incoming tourists.
(photo by Kay Scott)
This article is not to talk about me. Rather it is to illustrate why siestas are so common in San Pedro. I believe it has to do with our schedule of work. Fishermen traditionally work only in the morning. After finishing up with their chores and after a sumptuous midday meal, there is not much to do after that. There is no office to rush to, nor any appointment to attend. Therefore a little nap after lunch is just natural and quite in order. All fishermen of the past used to take this nap, and so did their wives, and their children. Siestas became a tradition in San Pedro and I would even say a part of our culture. Even our teachers of the past had this into their plan and we used to get a little siesta time at school in the afternoons. The children were simply asked to put their heads down on their tables and take a nap. After half an hour, the teachers would wake us up and continue with our classes. They too sat and dozed off during that period.

I do not know if siestas are good or bad. Some say that after a meal if you lie down then you do not burn up the extra calories and this leads to obesity or getting fat. However, look at it this way. If after taking a siesta you get up energetically, then it pays for all construction workers to take a siesta and then pump up some good energy during the afternoon shift. Now I will tell you a little secret. Our way of life today does not lend itself for siestas, but I have found a way to take a 15-minute one every day and it works so well with me. So if you please, dont call around 12:30. There are many others like that too. It is our habit of 25 years ago.


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