25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Turn On The Lights Please
Actually I believe that BEL does a formidable job in lighting up San Pedro. At least in my vicinity, we have great lighting. Yes we have the blackouts, but what the heck. It only makes us appreciate mother-nature a little more.
When we were growing back in the 1950’s or twenty five years ago (who cares if it is 40 years ago), lighting was a bit different. People had lights according to social class. Yes, we had social classes back then too. For example there were those who only had the wax candles. One or two were lit and spread around the house for lighting purposes. The lights flickered a little bit, but so does BEL too when we have low voltages. At least the flickering lights of back then did not burn our electric appliances. People today believe that lighting candles is dangerous and can lead to fires. I do not recall one single fire caused by candles, and that was living in thatch houses. People were smart then, you see. There were rats that could knock down the candles, but there were larger cats that could eat the rats. You see, we did not have cat food or rat food back then. The cats had to eat rats or face death and extermination.
Those who were better off had a better lighting system called a “quinque”, which was a kerosene lamp. It operated with a burner with a wick that could adjust the height of the light. The higher the wick, the better the lighting. If you raised the wick too high, it caused the burner to produce smoke which blackened the glass. A kerosene lamp came in all shapes and sizes and designs, and there were some real elaborate and fancy ones, as fancy as modern lights today.
|Kerosene lamp or “quinque”.
Then there were the hurricane lamps, also operated by kerosene. These worked well even in strong wind, so they were reserved more for bad weather or windy days. The quinque would be placed in a quiet room and the hurricane lamp in the open and windy living room. Was there a living room, back then? Well, I don’t know, but who gives a heck!
Finally there were the pressurized lamps which operated with both kerosene or gasoline. These were pumped with an air pump and this created a spray of oil that lit a little piece of cloth called a mantle. Actually this thing was as soft as ashes, but what a light it gave. These lamps gave as much as a 75 watt bulb. Only one or two of the richer people had these in town, I mean the village. My dad, who had a small saloon had one of these pressurized lamps, but he would not let us study with it. He only used it for the saloon. We had to do our studying during daylight hours. The lamp was a luxury item, sort of light lighting up your chandelier today.
Now you can figure out why people had so many children back in those days. The candlelight and other lights were rather romantic, right? And on moonlight nights, how can one not get romantic. Hats off to our lovely lights of twenty five years ago.