|Florencio "Seño Bosh" Acosta
Ambergris Caye is advertised as a place for fun and sun - the
perfect place for relaxation. Many older visitors fall in love with the
island and its people, and eventually make it their home after they
retire. Other senior residents are the people responsible for creating
this haven others now call home. One island retiree who worked all of
his life here on the island and has earned the right to finally relax
is Mr. Florencio "Seño Bosh" Acosta.
On October 26th, 1924, Juan and Benita Acosta welcomed a bouncing
baby boy, Florencio, into the world. Born in Corozal Town, his
childhood was spent enjoying the clear waters of the Caribbean and
playing marbles with his sister and two brothers.
Unfortunately, Florencio's father died a few years later, leaving
his mother to raise four children on her own. He recalled those were
hard times for his family and stated, "I remember there were days when
my mother would give us her share of the food and she wouldn't eat."
A few years after her husband's death, Florencio's mother fell in
love with a man named Adriano Ramirez. To better provide for his new
family, Adriano moved the family to San Pedro Town. At that time, the
coconut industry was booming on the island and Florencio went to work
with his stepfather to support the family. Everyday, he cleared bushes
and weeds from an area around the base of the coconut trees (known as
a "macate".) Florencio was paid a meager 50 cents for cleaning this 10-
square-yard space. In the afternoons, he and his stepfather would
gather coconuts and then strip them of their stringy coating. The
larger shells were sold to merchants in Belize City who then shipped
the coconuts to the United States. The men earned a mere ten dollars
for every one thousand coconuts.
When he was a little older, Florencio joined his stepfather on
trips to the mainland to harvest chicle, which was used for chewing
gum. From May to December they would "bleed" the trees of their sap and
then cook the liquid until it got chewy. Florencio and his stepfather
received $25 for every 100 pounds of gum they produced.
During one of these trips in 1955, Adriano and Florencio heard that
Hurricane Janet had struck the island. Distressed by the news, the two
men rushed to the island and found that, luckily, their family had
survived the disaster. However, the storm had destroyed much of the
island's trees and the coconut industry came to a halt. Replanting
efforts began immediately but plantation jobs were put on hold until
the coconut trees had time to mature and bear nuts.
Shortly after Hurricane Janet, Florencio met the woman with whom he
would share almost four decades, Juliana Reina. Together, the couple
raised eight children: Maricela, Gilberto, Ricardo, German, Hermojenes,
Florencio, Grimaldo and Arminda.
Unfortunately, before the coconut industry had a chance to renew
itself, disaster struck again in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie destroyed
the trees. With their main source of income virtually blown away,
island men were forced to find another way to make a living. Many
plantation workers, including Florencio, became fishermen and earned
money selling their catch to the newly formed Caribeña Co-operative.
Florencio used a net to catch snapper, which was abundant in the waters
around Ambergris Caye. "There were plenty of fish back then. One net
would bring in about 40 fish; now, you throw a net and you are lucky if
you get four," Florencio stated.
In 1980, after nearly 20 years of fishing, Florencio grew tired of
this occupation and began selling fruits and vegetables to earn a
living. "I found that this provided me with a steady income, which was
enough to support my family," he said. After years of selling produce,
Florencio eventually saved enough money to open his own
market, "Mindy's Store," where "Seño Bosh" sold fruits, vegetables and
other food staples, as well as candy and chips to the children.
As a result of his labors, Florencio was able to make a decent
living for his children and managed to put each one of them through
school. Sadly, in the year 2000, his wife died after a long battle with
cancer, and eventually, "Seño Bosh" decided to close his store and sell
some of his property.
These days, Florencio lives with his son Gilberto and finds
pleasure in everything the island has to offer. He explained that when
he was younger he didn't have a chance to take walks on the beach or
fish for fun - he simply worked. He stated, "Now, I get pleasure from
taking a stroll on the beach or playing with my grandchildren and great
grandchildren. Today, Florencio makes it a point to enjoy his life,
after working many years to support both of his families.
A dedicated, hardworking family man to this day, 79-year-old
Florencio Acosta is a prime example of the people visitors refer to
when they speak about the friendly, warm, hospitable members of "Our