25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Twenty five years ago, when Easter was all over, it was a different feeling as when Easter is over today. Back then we knew that Easter was over when we saw no strange face on the streets of San Pedro. San Pedro was invaded by friends from Belize City who came for the long weekend and festivities. They lived at friends’ houses and some even camped along the beach. They arrived here from Holy Thursday and remained until the following Monday which has always been a holiday, smartly given by government so that the party people and travelers had ample time to return home.
Twenty five years ago, the travelers had to return home by sailing boat, usually the cargo boats which became passenger boats for that Easter weekend. The Elsa P, owned and operated by Felipe Paz Sr., (Tio Pil) could carry over fifty persons in one trip. By Monday we would no longer see strange faces. Only Sanpedranos remained home and all the excitement of being good hosts to our visiting friends was over. Today the travelers go back home and we still see hundreds, if not thousands, of unfamiliar faces in town- people who have made San Pedro their new home.
Twenty five years ago Easter was over and it meant that people could now do their shopping. Absolutely no store, no business except bars and saloons, could open their doors for business. If you did, the police would come and close you down. On Monday after Easter Sunday we could finally restock our foodstuffs and supplies like kerosene for the stoves. Today even the bars and discotheques open on Good Friday, something that was mortal in the 1950’s. Stores today are open on Saturday and Sunday, which used to be considered holy days and holidays.
For Sanpedranos in the 1960’s Easter meant a great party. The best bands from Belize and Chetumal, Mexico came to entertain for two days. By Easter Monday, all that good party feeling was over, and it not only meant going back to work but also a long period of boredom and waiting for the next fun event which would be until July for the Caribeña Fishing Cooperative Annual General Meeting and then December for Christmas. In the middle of that period there was nothing exciting, only work and sleep, work and sleep, work and sleep, and to make it exciting a few gossips in the middle.
So twenty five years ago, there were clear signs that Easter was over. Stores were back to business on Tuesday, no more white skins on the island, all that remained on the island were locals who wore no shoes, and routine finally returned to the island. It was the period after Easter twenty five years ago.