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 AIRSTRIP: The very first one on Ambergris Caye was at Basil Jones up north. It was a private strip for an oil exploration company. The first one in San Pedro came about through the efforts of John Grief, Jim Blake, Area Representative in the PUP Louis Sylvestre, and influential villagers.
FIRST AIRPLANE: There was a small plane belonging to an American who had a bar in San Pedro by the name of Chris. Undoubtedly the revolution of flying was brought to San Pedro by our good friend John Grief Sr. who set the pace for the development of Holiday Hotel and tourism in San Pedro. The first plane was a seaplane.
FIRST SPEEDBOAT: Vernon Hammon, a U.S.citizen who retired in San Pedro, was about to inaugurate a resort known as the Reef Colony Club. His speedboat which he used to commute from San Pedro to Belize City was the Reef Colony, captained by Cruz Nuñez and Libby Azueta. The hotel was never inaugurated as it was destroyed in 1961 by Hurricane Hattie. Scores of Sanpedranos traveled this speedboat for free. No wonder Vernon Hammon and his wife Terry were very much liked.
FIRST VEHICLE: Caribeña Fishing cooperative brought the first Land Rover jeep to haul its boxes of lobster for exportation from the cooperative to the main pier. It also hauled blocks of ice for the fishermen to the main pier.
FIRST DOCTOR: Dr. Manuel Lizama flew in once a week from Belize City to offer medical services to the islanders just a few years before the Lions Clinic was founded. The first resident doctor to actually live on the island was our good Dr. Otto Rodgigurz who came here in the 1970’s along with his lovely wife and two charming baby boys. Yes, as young as Dr. Otto Rodriguez looks, he has been here for a while, and thank you for your dedication to San Pedro.
FIRST CINEMA: The first cinema to be completed was by Jim Blake (RIP). Exactly where Sun Breeze Hotel is. It was built with cushioned seats and large screen too. That also did not into operation as it was destroyed by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. The first one to operate was Teatro Arenas owned by Fido Nuñez (RIP), situated at the now famous Fido’s Courtyard.
FIRST BAR: Indisputably the first public bar was owned by Mr. Gildardo “Daddy” Paz Sr.and was situated in a small building where Big Daddy’s is. It expanded to boast billiard tables, dance hall and small restaurant. Many young loving couples met and courted at Daddy’s Club dance hall, a most popular place in the village.
FIRST TELEPHONE: Again Area Representative Louis Sylvestre brought the first community telephone to San Pedro. It was located at the home of Mr. Enrique Staines Sr. (RIP). Mr. Staines sent messages to villagers to come and answer the phone or wait for phone calls at telephone Number 52. There was one line and one phone, and when it was busy, that was it.
More on these “first’s “ next week and for a few weeks to come.