By Angel Nuñez
After the gradual decline of the Mayas in Belize and their total absence on the Island of Ambergris Caye, this island was practically uninhabited. There was the presence of a few employees of those who claimed title and even an attempt to raise cattle and grow cotton on the island. Even these diminished, and the Island was practically vacant.
Just imagine an island covered with bush along the windward side and mangrove on the leeward side. There is fertile high land in many areas of the island and mosquito infested swamps land at other areas. The beach is all white and sandy but covered with seaweed and debris that drifts from the Caribbean to our shores.
Then in 1848, a large number of Mestizos fled from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and landed on Ambergris Caye, looking for a refuge. These were the second group of immigrants looking for a home, food, a safe place where the warlike Mayas in Yucatan could not find them. The Mayas were up in arms against the Spaniards who were in a determined quest to conquer and add land to their empire. Some of the Spaniards had relationships with the Maya and even had offsprings; it is from there that the Mestizos came forth.
When the going got tough in Yucatan, these Mestizos fled across into Belize and settled mostly in the North. A small group of families landed in San Pedro. Here they made their settlement, built their small thatch houses, raised their chickens and pigs, and even planted their corn. Soon they discovered that there was abundant marine life- fish, conch, sea turtles and more. The Mestizos soon became adroit fishermen and they made their permanent community at this present day San Pedro Town core. They liked this narrow stretch because it gave them easy access to the lagoon and be able to communicate with their brothers and sisters in Corozal. It also gave the Mestizo easy access to the Caribbean Sea and the reef.
Life in this community was simple yet very productive. It was comfortable and a haven for them when compared to the ruthless life they faced in Yucatan against the hostile Mayas. This very nice community could only grow, and gradually it attracted other Mestizo brothers and sisters to immigrate from Corozal and Yucatan to the island. Eventually because of its ties with the sea and fishing, it was given the name San Pedro. (Saint Peter being the patron saint of fishermen) Note that the Spaniards had already introduced Catholicism to this region.
The community of San Pedro grew quite fast and by the year 1850, the governor of Belize under the crown colony or British rule saw it fit to post a police officer in San Pedro to oversee the proper development of life on Ambergris Caye and San Pedro. Thus we appreciate the immigration of another ethnic group to San Pedro. Interestingly, they also came here looking for a place they could call home much like today. They were escaping from hardships in another country, quite like today. They were looking for a new opportunity, very much like we have it today. The Mestizos, our second group of immigrants, and I am a proud descendant of them.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarious Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush -Richies Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery
Contact the Author at: [email protected]