25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
The San Pedro
Visiting San Pedro over the week end was a good friend Mr. Alpuche, who used to be the police officer in the 1950ís. His daughter, Anne Alpuche, attended primary school here along with me and many other peers of the time. Mr. Alpuche commented that his house, the police station did no longer exist, so I put myself to reminisce on this building.
It was an elegant building at the time - a time when there were thatch houses with outdoor toilets and the kitchens with firewood and the fire hearth or ďfogonĒ as they were called.
First on the east side of the property, there was a small building. One part of it was the cell which was about six feet by six feet and could only take one prisoner at a time. It was almost never used and only a few drunks who wanted to beat up their wives slept in there from time to time.
Besides the little jail was the police office. It had one table, a chair, some shelves and a radio used to communicate to Belize City. I was always scared to enter that place, except when P.C. Hope was here because he use to be my best friend and fishing partner.
A little verandah connected the office to the police living quarters. It was a small wooden building with two bedrooms and a living room in the middle. The house boasted curtain, Venetian blinds, and even a kerosene refrigerator. This was a luxury building at the time, when others had no refrigerators and were cooking on the fire hearth. This house had another verandah at the front where the police officer spent many hours in a hammock enjoying the Caribbean sea breeze.
Another little verandah at the back attached the living quarters to a large and comfortable kitchen. There was a large rectangular table in there with chairs, many shelves for plates and pots and pans, a kerosene stove and a window where the dishes were done. The building boasted running water. For this the officer or his family had to fill up a large suspended drum using a hand pump that was hooked up to the well or the water vat.
This was the police station and the home of the policemen. It was a white building with green trimmings. It was large and elegant by the standards of the 1950ís.
Whenever the building deteriorated, the government of the day would have it repaired. Several hurricanes hit the island, and not one damaged it. But in time the building deteriorated to standards that were no more livable. And so it was cleared, to make room for a larger and more improved one on Barrier Reef Drive or is it Mangrove Drive?
But for those of us who remember that police station, there are lots of good memories that go with it, including some who were locked up in there for no good reason, or for beating up their wives. I donít think anyone was ever locked up there for a serious crime. For many years, the cell used to be storage house for the police officerís fishing gear. Now, thatís the San Pedro I love to remember.