W e are having a few interruptions of power supply lately (okay, you can call it block outs) and some people are making a big fuss about it. Some of us actually enjoy reminiscing how life was 25 or 35 years ago. What is it that you really miss when the power goes off? The lights, right? I know of one person who grumbles because the television is off the air. Another one confesses that it is the refrigerator that he misses. All ri&, imagine the dilemma at the office where the typewriters and computers and all the equipment is dependent on electrical power. The machines at the hospitals go dead. The tortilla factory is too cold to cook. Even the golf carts won't charge and we have forgotten how to walk. Okay, admit it, when the power goes off, some of you have an unscheduled day off. You just hang around and chat. If at night, you take an earlier night's rest.
Whatever our reactions, life goes on but we grumble, don't we? How come people did not grumble 35 years ago when there was not 24-hour electricity in San Pedro? People were happy and went about very efficiently in their daily lives.
No electricity, no lights. By sunset the village grew dim and quiet. The streets were practically empty by eight o'clock. Here and there was the light of a small fire burning on the ground. This was to chase away the mosquitoes or to provide a little lighting. In a few houses you could see the dim light coming through a window. It was probably a child doing his homework under candlelight or under the light of a kerosene lamp with a burning wick known as a "kinque". During the religious processions, one or two gentlemen would bring out powerful kerosene lanterns that used compressed air. These gave daylight illumination, and there was a sense of rejoicing when one saw those into use, sort of like when we see fireworks today.
No television, video players nor stereos. Yes, we had a few battery-powered radios, about five of them. They used some batteries about half the size of those you see in the golf carts. Radios were used to listen to the news and to the Spanish soap operas known as novelas. During the time of the novela up to 20 persons would come over to watch, I'm sorry, to listen. I still remember my favorite novella, "Cazan el Casador" or Tarzan the Hunter - sort of a Tarzan type action story. Another one was "Tanaanika" and Kaliman or Los Tres Villa Lobos (The tree wolves). The women liked Crucificada en su Dolor. (Crucified in her suffering) or "El derecho de nacer." No, no X-rated stories by radio.
What about dances? For dances the dance hall would be brightly lit with kerosene lamps. These were as bright as modern day light bulbs. This happened three times during the year -New Year, Easter and Christmas. Funny how today the dance halls are in almost total darkness. Music was neither from a DJ nor electronic bands. Our musicians used the accordion, harmonicas, acoustic guitars, banjos, maracas and small drums like the tom toms. No matter how inspired th4~ musicians got, the music only went half a block away, but dances went from 7 p.m. until 8 or nine the following morning.
There were no power saws, drills, or jigsaws but check out the fine woodwork in some of those houses built back then. No sit, no blenders nor food processors. Beating the eggs for the cake was a half an hourjob; sometimes mom and dad took turns to beat the eggs.
We are told that a first electric plant existed in San Pedro somewhere in the 30's. It belonged to Mr. Ush and the remains of it are in Mr. George Parham's yard at Sands Hotel. Later on in the early 1950's one was operated by Mr. Blake at "El Atillero" Where Sun Breeze is located. That one provided power only from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Finally about 1970, the government of Mr. George Price, under area representative Louis Sylvestre, 24-hour electricity was brought to San Pedro and then the big development and changes came to San Pedro.
When we did not have electricity, we did not miss it. Today, if it goes off for half an hour, we begin to grumble and miss it not only to keep the computer going but also to beat the eggs and cook them in the microwave. Indeed, San Pedro has come a long way.