25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
No Television in San Pedro
I remember when there was no television in San Pedro. Television has been such a great impact in our lives today that without it life might seem meaningless. No doubt it is the greatest source of entertainment apart from bringing us the news and information from around the world. Television actually became available in San Pedro around 1984 with about five channels at the most. At that time it was the most exciting thing to occur in San Pedro and everyone in the village was shopping around for a television set.
Without television we lived in some form of ignorance because world news got to us very late. Life was also a bit boring for we did not have those exciting movies and soap operas or "novelas" as we call them. Because we did not have the movies, parents entertained their children with a whole range of fables and folk tales, legends and myths. There were master storytellers of stories of El Duende, El Sisimito, El Xtabai, La Llorona, and El Tatabalan. Boys and girls were experts in stories of Las Animas, and other spirits that roamed the village streets during the month of November which is the month of the souls.
To take the place of the T.V. novelas and soap operas, there were the radio novelas. There were 2 or 3 radios in the village operated by huge batteries about the size of a shoe box. These radios could operate for about three months and were put out in the sun for energizing when they were a bit low in power. They cost about five dollars, a very expensive battery in those days. At the time of the novelas up to 25 children assembled at this particular time and house and all would lie down on the floor to enjoy stories of Kaliman, Cazan el Cazador, Tanganica, and a few romance stories like Crucificada en su Dolor. There we learned the meaning of silence and patience, for if anyone dared speak out during the radio story, he would draw a good scolding from the young and old alike.
Our radio station in Belize City also brought us some news, but world news usually got to us about 15 days late. We never knew of the Chicago Cubs or of Mexico's Cruz Azul soccer team. But in place we had some great baseball and soccer teams that provided live entertainment for the village from time to time. We never knew of MTV and those wonderful music videos. Instead we had most boys and teenagers trying to learn some musical instrument like the harmonica, accordion or acoustic guitar.
Yes, twenty five years ago we missed out on a lot of world events, but we had time to catch up on some real useful hobbies and had great fun otherwise. Today our teenagers spend more time with music over the television instead of a real musical instrument. No wonder we had one of the best musical bands in the country back in the 1930's. But with all things said and done, if the local television goes off the air for half an hour, you have a lot of miserable people grumbling and even cursing. Today television is part of our lives. We never missed it one penny twenty five years ago.