25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
No Telephones ... SO WHAT?
In the 1950’s and 1960’s we used to live very happily and effectively without telephones. To tell the truth there was hardly a need for them and no one ever missed them. To call a person to gossip was not possible, so the folks who loved to gossip had to personally go visit someone to share the latest.
There was no internet back then, so no need to hook up to it to find out about the weather. For a report on the weather any experienced fisherman or older person in the community could predict the type of weather that was coming. Now tell me about internet to connect with some one abroad. That was out of anybody’s mind, for San Pedro people were living in a little world of their own with no connection abroad. And internet for research? Ridiculous. Tell me of something people did not know that they needed to know.
Okay, a phone call to Belize City to consult a lawyer? Never! The people of San Pedro never used the services of a lawyer, because there was no need for it- not for a crime, not for a divorce nor for any financial or legal transactions. Okay, what about a phone call to order goods from Belize City? That would not have helped, for the goods that you ordered for would still have to wait and come on the weekly trip by the cargo boat, The Elsa P. So to order goods the shop owners used to send a list with the order with Tio Pil on the Elsa P. and he made sure those goods were delivered to his boat and to San Pedro.
Okay, let me try to justify the need for cellular phones! Big joke for everyone knows that cellular phones are perhaps today’s biggest toy gadgets. Ninety percent of those phone calls do not really need to be made. And back then worse. “Honey, where are you?” You could guarantee that your honey was at home and busy with household chores.
Okay, okay, okay. I have to admit that I did miss my phone somewhat during the stupid strike last weekend. But I am trying to tell you that nobody missed them twenty five years ago. Life went well without them. They did not hurt, nor add to people’s happiness and comfort nor productivity. In fact, when Paradise Hotel started advertising for tourists to come to San Pedro, they used to say: “San Pedro, a Paradise with no vehicles, no television, no phones.” And do you know what, tourists used to love that and came to San Pedro exactly for that. Oh, how time changes.
The biggest name in radio today in Belize is Love F M. (98.1 FM) but did you know that back in the 1950's there was a whole lot of international radio in San Pedro? And what's more, a lot of villagers had their private antennas in their own yards.
First let me take you through the International radio stations. There was first and foremost Radio Harlengin Texas. Yes all the way from Texas we got to enjoy musical programs in the days when Country and Western was very popular.
Then there was Radio Havana, bringing us salsa, merengue, and hot Latino music all the way from Cuba. Radio Havana also had fine comical programs. Added to this was radio La Ceiba from Honduras. In this radio station San Pedranos enjoyed several radio novelas of love and romance as well as good family comedy and adventure.
I am going to take you now to Radio Caiman from the Cayman Island in the Caribbean. This radio station was extremely important for its accurate daily weather reports, especially during the hurricane season. In those days everyone listened to Cayman Radio Station and to Mr. Peter Hancock (a resident of San Pedro) but that is another story.
Now how was this possible when technology was not as advanced back then as it is today? Well in those days the A.M. Frequency was popular and those radio signals were able to bounce off any celestial body including clouds. Incidentally on cloudy days the radio signals were stronger. Also at night the signals became stronger. The annoying thing was that at times the signal was strong and the volume loud. Then gradually the signal diminished and the volume was very faint.
However here was the best trick for good international radio signals. The folks in San Pedro got the tallest bamboo pole they could locate and affixed a wire unto it and raised it 25 feet into the air. This wire was connected to the radio giving it excellent International reception.
The radios were fairly big and equipped with two buttons- a volume button and a station finder button. The battery was also huge. Take a look at the picture below. With these two gadgets we could enjoy and learned with International radio 25 years ago in San Pedro.