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Re: Glen’s “Pipe water and fresco!”

FeaturesRe: Glen’s “Pipe water and fresco!”

by Thérèse Belisle-Nweke

Monday, May 6, 2024

And—there was Malik with his ice-cream cart, ringing his bell for us to run out from our yard onto the street to buy his ice-cream. There were various flavours, such as the inimitable soursop ice cream. But because Malik had only one eye, one bad-minded cruffy spread the rumour that Malik’s eye “mi drap eena di ice cream tub”, and it was still at the bottom of his ice cream! That resulted in a brief cooling off period which affected poor Malik’s ice cream business.

We used to buy paletas — a flavoured icicle on sticks — in those days, as well as stretch-mi-guts. Stretch-mi-guts was a long, sticky sweet that we shared among our besties by biting off bits, while the sweet stretched as we bit pieces off it. Then there was “stew supa,” and after sucking and sucking till all the supa syrup had gone and the supa was almost white, we would then break the hard supa seed with a stone to eat the nut inside the seed. We did the same thing with almonds (“hammans”) and its seed.

After school, the more intrepid ones among us used to go around the Foreshore area in Belize City to stone people’s mango, guava, almond and plum trees to steal the fruits. But a couple of white expatriates living there set their dogs on the poachers, and on a couple of occasions they became marooned at the top of the trees until the dogs got tired of sitting at the foot of the tree to catch them and left. Fights and settling scores at Wesley Primary School were always reserved for Fridays, because no adult busybody would remember all the way until Monday to report to the much-feared Mrs. Floss Casasola, the school principal, that they had identified X, Y, or Z fighting on, say South or Prince streets, two Belize City side streets. 

Does anyone in Belize still sell the “Spanish” biscuits and sweet breads that were once hawked from huge covered basins by itinerant salesmen? There was this very jovial “Spanish” guy who used to bring them to our Wesley College gate in those bygone days. We would buy them through the fence during our lunch break, at 5 cents for one, which was a lotta, lotta money in the early 1960s. I remember liking one called “greasy-greasy” which crumbled with one bite as I ate. To those among us who wanted to buy the guy’s stuff on credit, he used to quip, “the heart is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

What of rapadora, which used to come from Corozal and Orange Walk, our sugar belt, and which we used to suck as it was hard and sweet and took a long time to finish?

Lest I forget! In Old Belize, the young often used to have romantic assignations, unknown to parents, with those whom they swore they would “love forever and forever until the end of time”. Some of these were at the unlighted Foreshore, or up at the Fort George area near Baron Bliss grave . . . thus giving rise to the smutty but very popular Kriol folk song about what had been done on the poor baron’s grave! Those were the days  of overwhelming innocence, during which most young male admirers restricted themselves to copious letter writing, with quotes from poets like Hazlitt and Browning, and holding hands and exchanging stolen kisses with their girlfriends during mâtines (matinee) at Palace and Majestic Theatres.

Now a once peaceful and truly beautiful Belize is irrevocably corrupted with sycophantic tourism, opportunistic immigration, senseless violence, homelessness, huge dollops of ignorance, complacency and heartlessness, and worst of all, the particularly degenerative cloning of the values of the one and only Big Brother.

Was there any definitive progress in these last five decades? Despite the relative poverty that characterized those bygone days (during which Belizean children contentedly made their own toys — spinning tops, cloth dolls, kites and wooden boats laced with paper — and borrowed their many story books and novels from the public library, and teenagers avidly read the foreign newspapers and magazines at the British Council library, but still found time to dance on weekends at the Princess Margaret Youth Hostel in the Queen’s Square Area, or at parties hosted by the “Righteous Brothers” on Northside Belize, or brainstorm under the late Vernon Leslie’s leadership at the Young People’s Discussion Circle at the Bliss Institute every Friday night), it was a far more knowledge-based and ambitious society than the one Belize has today. What is the current perception? It is of two steps forward and six backwards!

Thérèse Belisle-Nweke

(AMANDALA Ed. Note: Well, yo kyahn talk ice cream without mentioning Sports, or Meggag, as we used to call him—di best! Yaa, “greasy, greasy polborun, uno para cinco”! Lol! And remember caparuche … Look weh Glen gaahn start!)

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