For the newcomers to San Pedro, here is a summary of a few “firsts”. You can learn a whole lot of informal history about San Pedro by simply perusing along. At the same time this is an acknowledgement to those people who set the pace for development of our beloved San Pedro and Ambergris Caye.
FIRST GIFT SHOPS: Have you ever wondered who set the example by having the vision that tourists like buying strange and exotic things that they can take back home and call them souvenirs? The first one did not have a name. It was Genaro Nunez who was a fisherman and he found some bottles on the beach and sold one or two. That started his ambition and eventually he grew into Sea Turtle Gift Shop under his house, then at Barrier Reef Hotel, and then to its own building on Pescador Drive. At about this same time Dimas Guerrero was painting T-shirts, and working on frames with island paintings and conch products. Because he was Dimas and his girlfriend Gloria, I suggested the name D and G’s which stands up until this time. Pretty soon it was Paisano who entered with two gift shops on the island. Had he stayed on the job, he would be pretty rich today, or perhaps he is and we do not know!
FIRST DIVE SHOP: The first tourists that came to the island did not know what to expect. It was Holiday Hotel that set their itinerary with fishing and snorkeling mostly. But as tourism became popular, so did diving. It was Coral Beach Hotel, owned by Allan Forman, that set up the first dive shop equipped with an air compressor, about two dozen tanks, and the rest of the gear. It became such a popular sport after that all hotels started advertising spectacular diving in Belize and opening more dive shops. Thank you, Coral Beach Hotel.
FIRST SANPEDRANO PILOT: I only wish I could say it is Johnny Grief Jr. because I have seen him all my life in San Pedro and I know he feels and acts and thinks San Pedrano. I genuinely consider him a San Pedrano too, for all the good he had done in our island, but Johnny was born in the United States. So for the record, the first San Pedrano pilot is Nando Trejo Jr., who once was owner of Island Air. Nando worked as handyman at Holiday to earn enough money to go make his dream a reality. Through good luck and effort, Nando dated this beautiful girl (not as beautiful as Mercy) and her father gave him the opportunity to go study for his dream. Nando also got help from Bob Witte, a friend of his family and pretty soon he was back in San Pedro to fly with Tropic Air. It was Nando who opened the eyes of many young Sanpedranos, who have now venture in this adventurous yet risky profession- flying the skies of Belize.
FIRST GIRLS OF THE EASY LIFE: In the 1980’s there was the first attempt to establish prostitution in San Pedro. It was a hotel with a bar known as Casa Solana that brought a few young ladies as bait to attract men to the bar. San Pedro women put great resistance and were about to hold a demonstration when the management decided to get rid of the girls. It was a victory not for the women, but for San Pedro. Casa Solana then sold to Royal Palm and the story stops right there.
FIRST DEMONSTRATION: The first demonstration in San Pedro was a protest, one organized by the first PUP town council. In 1985 just months after we got our township, the UDP elected government decided to reduce the boundaries of our town making it very small so that the PUP town council would not be able to collect taxes and fail in its administration. Minister Goldson (may he rest in peace) informed us of the decision and hundreds of Sanpedranos took to the streets to protest. Goldson informed us (I was there) that he would not do it without consulting the people. However, the following hour he signed the paper, which rolled back our boundaries. That was the infamous “Roll Back”, and it happened in 1985. So for the record, the first demonstration in San Pedro did not achieve its desired objective.