Twenty five years ago, or perhaps 35, the Boy Scouts of Belize annual visits to San Pedro and had a whale of a time in the sea while they provided much activity to the sleeping of the village of San Pedro. They came right after the Sisters of Mercy had terminated their month long Summer vacations in San Pedro.
The Scouts used the same headquarters as the nuns, a large wooden building where our Catholic Church now stands. The San Pedro Roman Catholic Church was a wooden building with a U-shape facing the sea. The left side was the church; the middle the kitchen and dorms; and the right side was called the Scout Room appropriately named because it was their headquarters. It was locked up when they left the San Pedro and we got to use it for about one entire year as our classrooms when Hurricane Hattie destroyed our school in 1961. Underneath the church building it was fenced and there the scouts stored their canoes and paddles etc.
The "Old Man Grouch" was a popular weekly activity by the scouts. At 7 or 8 p.m., on a dark night, the scouts disguised themselves as red Indians with feathers and loincloth. They lit kerosene torches and paraded into the bush- more or less present day Playador Hotel. They carried a coffin, which contained an evil spirit. There was the evil spirit of Pride and the evil spirit of Dishonesty. There were spirits of Arrogance, Lies and Theft. In the bush they used to light a huge bonfire and dance around the fire prior to burying the coffin with the evil spirits. They spoke in strange languages, danced Indian dances and acted weirdly. We followed at a distance, inquisitive, yet scared as hell.
The scouts made many friendships in San Pedro and their departure also brought moments of sadness. Those few shells that the nuns did not take were given to the scouts as remembrances. And there returned peace and quietness that was so typical of the quaint, sleeping village of San Pedro.