25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Wise Old Sayings... Proverbs of San Pedro
You will find proverbs wherever you go and they are usually some wise saying that locks up a lot of truth. Whoever made them up was wise and at the same time quite witty because instead of saying it directly, he disguised it in the form of a saying. Those proverbs or wise saying of San Pedro in the past are quite picturesque and unique in that you do not hear them elsewhere even though they have similar interpretations as others used elsewhere. Most of these proverbs were handed down to us by our parents by word of mouth whenever a situation arose.
DE TAL PALO TAL ASTILLA: (A chip off the old block). This was used when a child showed the same characteristics of his mom or dad, usually when a bad quality was in question. If a young man would be a “borracho” (drunkard) just like his dad, the saying was used. If a young lady was skilled in sewing and embroidery just like her mom, people would apply this saying to her to praise her dedication to house chores and healthy habits. And so it was that if a person was dishonest or thief, people usually attributed this as an inherited quality from his parents.
MAS VALE TARDE QUE NUNCA: (Better late than never) If someone owed you some money and barrowed an item and took long in returning it, you would use this saying whenever the person finally returned the item or paid his debt.
It was a casual reminder that the action of returning something was long overdue and though one was happy with the return, it was also a reminder that in the future nothing else would be lent to that person because of his negligence or irresponsibility or deceitfulness.
This phrase was usually said with some sarcasm and the person was supposed to take some offence but shut up because he was at fault. Other long overdue events 25 years ago were overdue weddings, apologies, visits or cleaning of one’s dirty property. I know of a certain shopkeeper who would write this proverb and the list of names of people who owed him money for over a year or so.
EL QUE MUERE POR SU GUSTO, QUE LO ENTIERREN PARADO: (He who dies by his own foolishness, deserves to be buried standing up) This was used to remind someone of an unnecessary “suffering act” to himself. For example, if a person refused to eat while there was plenty of food, then he was suffering at his own will or stupidity. Or if someone refused to join the fun at a party, a dance or some jolly event, then the adage would apply. “Que lo entierren parado”, also got to mean “Let him go to hell” or “To hell with him”. The same holds true if a person refused to take some medicine.
COM AMIGOS COMO TU, NO NECESITAS ENEMIGOS: (with friends like you, one does not need enemies) This saying was usually given in good spirit with no ill feelings. It was said to a friend who was not being too friendly at the time. Perhaps he was taking too long to pay a debt. Or perhaps he was not covering you up in a secret. Perhaps your friend was going after the same girl that you also admired and joking you would remind him that he was on the threshold of becoming your enemy.
EL QUE MADRUGA, DIOS LO AYUDA: (I guess this is close to “the early bird catches the worm.)Literally it says that if you are an early riser, God is on your side. Most people used this proverb to illustrate the fact that it is important to have an early start in whatever you do.
However, in the life of a fisherman, arriving early to your fish trap was very important so some other fisherman would reap and enjoy your catch. Consequently, if you got there at 5 a.m., and your fish trap was empty, you say, “ya me madrugaron”, meaning that someone had stolen your produce. On the other side, if you got there early, you too had the option to help yourself with the fish you found in someone else’s trap, so you were helped by God for getting up early. Quite ironical that God would help someone in his evil doings, right? But these were some of the saying of 25 years ago.
There are many old wise sayings that apply to
our lives like our successes and failures, our selfish or generous
ways, our disappointments or happiness. King Solomon was considered
the wise man of the Old Testament, but I am not sure he thought of
these ones of San Pedro in days gone by. I really like them for they
lock a lot of truth and wisdom.
LO QUE NO MATA,
ENGORDA: (What is not killing is fattening) This was usually
used when you were eating something and a piece fell to the ground.
Do you think the person would dash it away? Forget it; he would pick
it up and eat with the notion that what will not kill him will
probably get him fat. Hey, in the days when there were no screened
doors, there were a lot of house flies inside the homes.
Practically, everyday a housefly would fall in your cup of tea or
coffee? Do you think they would throw it away? Remember, “Lo que no
mata engorda!” The other day I heard that a certain rotisserie was
left open full of chickens and a dog was licking the delicious
chickens. Did anybody die from that dog’s saliva? Lo que no mata,
engorda. And that takes us to another saying.
OJOS QUE NO
VEN, CORAZON QUE NO SIENTE: (What the eyes do not see, the heart
does not feel) This is different from: What the eyes do not see, the
heart does not desire. My dad used to say, “Why be picky about
things you eat because you might think it is not hygienic enough.
You should see those men without shirts and shoes who are shoveling
sugar at the factory and they spit anywhere and sweat falls all
over. And isn’t the sugar delicious. Yes, “Lo que no mata engorda”,
and what the eyes do not see, the heart does not
AMORES DE LEJOS-AMORES DE PENDEJOS: (Only a fool
keeps a far away lover). In a village of 500 inhabitants, only
marriages with local boys and girls were considered faithful. It was
unthinkable and unacceptable to have a girlfriend living in another
place or a spouse for that matter. That girl was bound to be
disloyal given the human sexual nature of persons who were neglected
love and sex for any given long period. Therefore anyone who had a
girl living elsewhere was considered a “pendejo” or a simple fool
for lack of a better word. It was thought that that girl would be
unfaithful no matter what and if you accepted that, you were either
blind or a big “pendejo”. Everyone should learn the meaning of that
word “PENDEJO” and take my word, do not separate from your wife or
husband as a permanent condition. A few weeks, okay, but not mucho
MUESTRAME TUS AMIGOS Y TE DIRE QUIEN ERES:
(Show me your friends, and I shall tell you who you are) More or
less like “Birds of a feather, flock together) Most parents used
this phrase to advise their children to keep away from bad company.
If you saw your children in the company of people who drink, you
would assume that your son too was into drinking. On the positive
note, if your son was an altar boy and in the company of church
people, you could also assume that he was imitating the good steps
and examples of peers and friends.
Still have a few more
folks, but I have run out of space. Next week I have some good ones,
including one that will remind you that all things have a purpose in
your life and if that is how God wants it to be, so shall be it.
Take care and remember try not to be a “pendejo” this
I hope nobody is calling you a “pendejo” after last week’s article on that topic. Remember the saying: “ Amores de lejos, amores de pendejos”.
EL QUE ANDA EN LA MIEL ALGO SE LE PEGA: (He who walks into honey becomes quite sticky) This was used in two distinct ways. First in a negative way if one associated with bad company, he was bound to acquire some of the bad habits or ways. Similarly if someone associated with people of nice character and personality, some of these qualities would soon become inherent qualities of his as well. If a woman acted very mean, people would say that she learned it from her mean husband or some close company. And if a man would start being flirty with girls or promiscuous, his wife would slam him with this phrase meaning that he was learning it from hanging out with friends just like him or spending too much time at disreputable bars (not found on the island, of course)
NO HAY MAL QUE POR BIEN NO VENGA: This literally says that evil or bad luck comes for a good reason, but in actuality it is close to “Every cloud has a silver lining. Sanpedranos have always been optimistic people so much that no negative or unwelcome occurrence killed anyone’s spirit. They knew ;that at the end, something good was still awaiting. Or to put it mildly, if something bad was happening to me, God knew why he wanted it that way. For example, if there was terrible weather during an important event in one’s life, God knew why he wanted it like that. If there was an earthquake on your wedding day, God knew why he did not want you to marry that person. Therefore something bad was actually good in disguise. I’ll drink to that. So now I can explain why God did not want a certain politician to win.
EL QUE NO ESCUCHA CONSEJO NO LLEGA A VIEJO: (He who does not listen to advice does not live to see old age) Of course this proverb was used a million times to warn or remind young people that they ought to pay heed to the advice, the experience, sincerity, wisdom and genuine goodness of older folks, especially of parents. When a father told his son over and over to break a relationship with that flirty and no good girl, and he would not listen, then dad would remind him that he would be sorry for not listening to his good advice. Got time for one more?
TRATAR DE TAPAR EL SOL CON UN DEDO: (Trying to cover the sun with one finger) Now would you try to do that? That seems like a complicated job to do so simply. So if you had a complicated problem and you tried to come up with a little patch up work solution, you would apply this saying. It is like putting a small band aid over a large wound.