25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Carnival has always been fun and is still a lot of fun today as far as “comparsas” or street dancing goes. In San Pedro it is called Carnabal. Carnaval is a cultural tradition and not the awful mess you see with painting today. That is not what carnaval used to be 25 years ago. But carnaval also has had its heroes- people who used to make carnaval really successful and a world of fun.
Don Severito, who used to live far out of town in the 1950’s, was a talented musician and song writer. He must have written over one hundred songs for people of all ages to dance Carnaval. People used to go to his house to get songs and rehearse them along with him. And on the day of Carnaval,he used to go play his horn or trumpet or harmonica for his favorite comparsa. Everyone wanted him, but only one group got him. But they all got their songs from him.
Some men who used to be really funny in dancing and acting out their comparsas always come to mind when we think of Carnaval. Outstanding was Mr. Fido Nuñez, who was a remarkable man with his humor. He could make the entire village laugh and he could keep a large crowd following his comparsa for every joke would be a fresh joke once he got on the roll. Don Lucilo Guerrero was a great humorist. How I wish I could see him in a comparsa again. He and Fido and Japon made a great team.
Later on there were men who kept the comparsas going year after year. We are talking about people like Armando Graniel, Tuli Lara, Guillermo Nunez, Turin Mora, among others. They kept the spirit of the comparsa Los Negritos going year after year. When they painted themselves black it was up to the teeth. And when the crowd wanted a laugh, they got it with the men’s comparsa.
We cannot forget doña Vilma who also wrote scores of comparsas and trained the school children to dance and sing. She was so faithful to the children and assisted them throughout their dances. She would protect them from being painted or abused, and her comparsas were the first one in and the last one to end because she tried hard to collect as much funds for the Catholic Church in its building project.
Carnaval has also been about having musicians assisting and enlivening the comparsas. So we must give credit and acknowledgements to musicians like don Emilio Rivero and Alfredito Alamilla with their guitars; Aldo Marin and Ovidio Guerrero and Wil Alamilla with their accordions; Wilito Nuñez with his keyboard; Reynaldo Munoz, Lalo Tolosa with their harmonicas; Duck Donaldo Guerrero and Norman Eiley with their saxophones; don Manuel Azueta with his trumpet; and our recent musicians like Pete Salazar, Severito Guerrero, Memo Guerrero, Omar Guerrero, and a few D.J’s.
Yes folks, Carnaval has been and still is a show of culture, talent, dancing, costumes, humor, mimicking, make-up, stories, painting, and re-living traditions of ethnicity. It has been an opportunity to express your feelings of admiration of someone or condemnation of others. It has been a special time to be someone else. It has been a time to get attention you could not get otherwise. So if you were a quiet man, you became a noisy woman and vice versa. But carnaval has only happened because there were talented men and women who have given of themselves to the fun of it. Long live carnaval or Carnabal as it is called in San Pedro. Long live the memory of those who have contributed towards the fun of it.
Upon the passing of Felix Ayuso Jr., he was highly associated with Carnaval. Some of his friends said , "He is Carnaval". This flashback reminds us that the spirit of Carnaval might come in the blood. Seen in this flashback of "El Torito" is Feliz Ayuso Sr. as well as Don Francisco "Pancho" Bardalez, uncle of Felix Ayuso Jr (+). We also know that another uncle of Felix, Adolfo Ayuso (+) was another avid Carnaval and comparsa enthusiast. This flashback takes us back into the 1970's when popular radio celebrity Lidia Ramirez came to San Pedro to participate and document Carnaval as it was uniquely known in San Pedro.