Sleeping on Salted Fish

an you imagine sleeping on top of salted fish? Do you think you can get used to it? Twenty five years ago for some fishermen there was no choice, and here is the simple crude story.

When the lobster season ended on the 15" of February, the lobster fishermen' and skin divers turned to fishing. During March and April the same boats used for lobster fishing - were loaded with food rations and tons of salt and headed to "Cayo Luna" (Half Moon Caye) to fish the grouper, which came near the reef to spawn or lay their eggs. These groupers came in the millions, and with a hand line and two or three hooks at its end, a fisherman could land one hundred or more groupers in a day or up to 500 among the crew of five.

The problem was not catching them but rather cleaning and processing them. Once the groupers were properly salted, they were put out in the sun on the island to dry. .After two days of drying in the sun, the fish were packed in the boat once again- at the stern, in the middle where the huge icebox had once been and in the bow where once the men slept comfortably. Now they lay some cardboard over the fish and that became their comfortable bed. Soon there would be corned fish all over the deck and that was the time the crew returned to San Pedro to. sell their salted grouper to local buyers.

Seferino Paz (deceased), Tio Pil and Leoli Varela were among the popular buyers who took the produce to Guatemala and Honduras to sell during the Lent season, a period when fervent Catholics abstain from eating any kind of meat and survive on fish alone. This was a very profitable business that our local fisherman and buyers had skillfully tapped into, and it provided an excellent income during the closed lobster season.

Besides the salting of fish, the fish roe or its eggs, was salted and sold locally or internationally. Fish, roe sold for 10 or 15 cents a pair (never weighed) and one boat alone used to bring 2 to 3 thousand groupers and 8 or 10 boxes of fish eggs.

People on land used to smell the grouper for several days when the boats were anchored in front of the village. The men's clothing smelled. like fish and the wives or mothers had to deal with that laundry. Imagine, sleeping for a week on top of salted, dry fish. Well, that was life Twenty Five years ago.

Back to 25 Years Ago Main Page

Commons Island Community History Visitor Center Goods & Services Search Messages AIM Info

Copyright by Casado Internet Group, Belize