I t costs about three hundred dollars today to have your pet dog castrated. Twenty five years ago it could have been done much cheaper. Don Espiridion could have done it, and I'll tell you how.
Many people called him Spirii, others don Espiridion. Nobody knew his real full name nor background. He came from Corozal District at a time when a newcomer arrived in San Pedro, he was the talk of the town. He was short, slightly stocky, dark skinned and had a thick moustache. He always wore a jean shirt (the working man's clothing) and a straw hat.
Many people will remember don Espiridion as an alcoholic. When he was not doing a few concrete jobs, he was drinking, sometimes for several weeks or months non-stop. Others will remember him for many structures like vats or wells or floors that he constructed. Spirii could take a pile of rocks and come up with a perfectly round concrete well. Many concrete floors were built by him; not many houses because mostly wooden structures wae erected back then. Others will recall his appetite for hot habanero peppers. Spirii could roll up 2 or 3 habaneros in a corn tortilla and devour his taco with such pleasure and never blink an eye.
Now whenever someone had a hog or dog or pet cat and wanted it castrated, don Espiridion was the man to call. He would come to your house, request for a new razor blade and go to work. If he was slightly nervous due to his drinking, he would need assistance to hold the animal. He would then proceed to cut the scrotum and remove the testicles of the little animal. He would then apply some ashes or "ceniza" from the firehearth (fogon) and then release the animal. Nothing else, no more medication or special treatment. no injections, no pills, no "nada". And as far as I can recall, not one dog or cat died from his surgery.
Spirii did not have a degree in medicine. In fact, he did not even have a primary school certificate, but he was gifted in the art of surgery. People wanted their dogs and cats castrated so they would not be adding to the stray dog population. The pigs were castrated so that they would grow big and fat. The folks back then wanted fat hogs because "chicharon" was a delicacy and one fat hog could yield up to three buckets of lard or fat.
"What is the cost of your service, don Espiridion?" a villager would ask. No es nada, ney. Solamente una chatita de romo." (It's nothing, son. Only a flask of white rum.) The cost of a flask was a dollar. Twenty Five Years Ago salutes this self taught village surgeon of cats and dogs and pigs.