25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
“The Mother of Invention...”
They say that necessity is the mother of inventions and for our old San Pedro, this saying goes a long way. Our folks, I mean our parents in the 1950’s, used to be genuine inventors of things that worked for them in the absence of anything better or easier.
Take for example shampoo. There were no shampoos in the 1950’s in San Pedro, but do you think that people went about with stiff hair? You are sadly mistaken if you thought so for a moment! The villagers of the past found a way to deal with hard water. You would never know what hard water is until you wash your hair with rain water. That is pretty soft water. Wash your hair with well water, and that is hard water. Then wash your hair with sea water and that is really hard water.
But a shampoo does the job of softening your hair if there is only hard water to be used. For this our grandparents invented the ‘legia” (pronounced layheea). Here is how it is prepared. After burning firewood or charcoal you get the remains called ashes. This ash was put into a drum (about ¼ of the drum) and then it was filled with well water. When it settled, the water was clear and smooth, almost lathery.
A hair washed with that water called “legia” and any regular soap could beat the softness of any shampoo in the market today. I wonder if any ash is used in the preparations of shampoos today. You might be laughing or even ridiculing this by now, but it is true. Try it. For the next Costa Maya I would urge someone to have an exhibition of this product, which is a product of the Mayas. Trust me, Maya Indian Girls smelled good and their hair was as soft as silk.
I know the pretty girls of the 1940’s and 1950’s had pretty, soft and silky hair thanks to this “legia”. At my house we kept three drums of “legia”. One was used for mother and my sister to wash their hair, I mean to shampoo their hair, and the other two for mom to do the laundry. Every evening my brother and I used to fight to decide who had the arduous task of filling up the drums with the ashes for the legia. My brother, who was bigger, was ordered to fill two drums and I had to fill one, but because I am a very generous person, I used to help him fill his share. Hey, it was hard work, for a 55 gallon metal drum could take as many as ten to fifteen pails of well water and there were no electric pumps at our houses back then. We did not even have the hand pumps. It was all done by hand, so you can imagine the fun.
So you see, when you do not have something and you need that something, you invent something that will work somehow for you. Do you know that even though we lived in houses with dirt floors, we had wall paper on all our walls in our rooms. They were fabulous, and I will tell you about it next week. You think I lie? Well, if they paid me, perhaps I would, but who is paying me?