25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
A Typical Evening in the Village
Well, you know how a typical evening is spent in San Pedro nowadays. If you are not stuck to the T.V., then you are probably driving around with a golf car or at the Casino or some entertainment center. Do you wonder how a typical evening and night was spent in village of San Pedro 25 years ago, or rather in the 1950's? Just imagine, no television, no telephone, no video or arcade games, no Jaguar's or Iguana's, not even all night electricity for that was cut off at 9 p.m.
There is one old custom that may seem strange, but it was a popular pastime and custom back then. It was the custom of WALKING AROUND THE VILLAGE. Yes, walking! Simply walking around and around. How much? As much as 10 or 15 rounds around the village, which extended from the primary school to about Hotel San Pedrano. The cemetery just before Paradise Hotel was on the outskirts of the village.
Mostly the teenage boys would walk around in groups of 3 or 4. This, as you can imagine, gave them the opportunity of passing by their girlfriends' house and seeing them. Those who were bold or had some confidence with the girl (and her parents) would stop to chat with the girl. She was on her verandah and the boy on the street. When you could see the boy stop and go up on the verandah for half an hour or so, that meant he was "in business". He was accepted and soon he would ask the parents' permission to visit the house formally. Guys who visited would make some rounds around with their friends from six to seven p.m. and at seven would go visit their fiancée. The rest of the friends kept walking around until they got tired or bored.
During this period of walking around, the boys bought "pepitoes" (roasted pumpkin seeds), chewing gum, chocolates, or some other junk food and if they wished, they could stop and offer a girl a little treat. There were even some mothers who would come out on the verandah to enjoy a little treat. Also the boys would stop at one or two popular saloons to enjoy soft drinks, fruit cocktail with evaporated milk, or even some fruit juices. Now the boys, who were not interested on walking around and seeing the girls, were locked up either at Skin Diver's Club, or Daddy's Club, or Marino's Bar playing billiards and drinking beer.
You might wonder whether the girls walked around the village in groups. Yes they did on Sundays only. Putting on their best dresses, they would start from 6 p.m. Somehow they managed to fix up in the right group- 3 or 4 girls who all liked another 3 or 4 in a boys' group. And somehow also they managed to walk in the opposite direction so that they would meet at every round. Eventually some boys would cross over to the girls' group and the courtship continued. There were stops at the saloons for treats and stops at the central park for some courting. The more flirty girls would go by the beach or the main pier, but believe me, that was very rare.
So what do you think? Do you think walking around the village was any fun? Well, what else to do? I can tell you that many young men met their girls in these rounds and are now happily married for more than 30 years.