No ice in San Pedro

magine a glass of orange juice without ice. A pina colada without ice. A wedding party where all drinks and beers are served without ice. Then imagine your San Pedro without paletas or ice-cream or those delicious "fresco", or "raspado" as the children call it, that are sold by Mr. Chalo at the primary school.

Ice is almost a necessity today, right? And ice is so readily available all over town that we take it for granted. Some of us take our spouses for granted and we forget to tell them that we love them. Some of us take life for granted and we forget to thank God, the giver of life.

There was a time when in San Pedro there was no ice. People preserved meats and fish by salting it. Chickens were kept alive. Other perishable goods were totally consumed and not left over for later use. The first ice brought to San Pedro came on board of Tio Pil's cargo boat, the Elsa P. The ice factory in Belize City manufactured huge 300 pound blocks of ice which were placed in giant ice boxes by the fishermen. Some merchants bought these blocks of ice and shaved the ice to sell fresco or crushed ice. A rich syrup and condensed milk was placed over the shaved ice and sold for two cents, three cents with milk.

The ice was brought by cargo boat and had to be protected from melting. The blocks were placed in huge crocus bags and rice husks were placed around it for insulation. Fresco or shaved ice was sold in various places, but Mr. John Alamilla (deceased) went around town with a tricycle to sell the fresco. The kids, I remember, had to take along their plastic cups, or jugs for Mista John to serve them.

If someone wanted a small chunk of ice, he would beg Tio Dolito for a small chunk which he would sell for ten cents. Today for a wedding you go in a truck and get any amount of ice. Twenty five years ago, you had to make a Special trip to Belize City to purchase 2 or 4 blocks to chill your beer and the refreshments.

Later on as refrigerators were brought to San Pedro, people froze small trays of ice and sold the tray of cubes for 10 cents. Still later on, Caribena Fishing Cooperative bought its own plant to manufacture these large blocks of ice. A few years later, it bought a plant that manufactured what was called shell ice or small one inch pieces of ice. You could purchase ice there in any amounts at 2 cents per pound.

Today my refrigerator will make several pounds of ice a day, and I press a switch to get ice cubes and press another one and get crushed ice. Ice is an integral part of our lives. We even waste a lot of ice, especially the 20 year old kids who have had ice all of their lives.

However, those of us who did not have ice 25 years ago do appreciate ice a little more for we know what life is without ice. Life without ice is dull! Life without ice is not as pleasant.

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