By Angel Nuñez
It has been a pleasant task reminiscing on the VERY FIRST ONES in San Pedro, like the first airstrip and the first plane as well as the first doctors or even the first prostitutes who provided service to the gentlemen around 1920, almost one hundred years ago. Well here are a few more very firsts for San Pedro.
FIRST VEHICLE: If you cannot imagine San Pedro without any vehicle, I mean not even one. Well, I can. All of us who have lived here in San Pedro for more than 60 years actually lived in a vehicle free village. Caribena Fishing Cooperative was registered and founded in the year 1963. When it commenced the exportation of rock frozen lobster to the United States, it needed a vehicle to haul the cargo from the processing plant to the main pier and with that Caribeña brought the very first vehicle to the Island. It was a green army type land rover jeep and it was the very first vehicle to start killing the grass on the sand/grass streets of San Pedro. Everyone was excited about the idea of San Pedro having a jeep. I mean everyone wanted to have a little ride. The children would run behind the jeep and jump in for a free ride as is done even today by children and tourists riding about in golf cars. Caribeña also used this vehicle to transport 300-pound blocks of ice from the ice plant to the pier where boats loaded with ice to go on lobster fishing trips. Don’t know if I can say happy day or dooms day to that day when San Pedro got its first vehicle.
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. Well obviously he needed transportation to communicate between San Pedro and Belize City and for that he used a speed boat. It was a small boat, about 18 feet long with a 40 horse power outboard engine so it moved really fast by the standards of the 1950’s. Well this speedboat which he used to commute from San Pedro to Belize City was also called the Reef Colony and was captained by Cruz Nuñez (+) and Libby Azueta. Scores of Sanpedranos traveled this speedboat for free- students, sick people, any emergency or simply one desiring to go to the city and it coincided with a trip of the Reef Colony. No wonder Vernon Hammon and his wife Terry were very much liked by all the people of San Pedro. Kudos to Mr. Hammon for introducing the speedboats to San Pedro.
FIRST MAYOR: This does not go too far back, only as far back as 1984 but for any recent comer to San Pedro, it is probably unknown to them. Our first mayor, Mr. Gilberto, “Chico” Gomez was automatically promoted from village council chairman to mayor when San Pedro obtained its township status in 1984. But then, in 1985 the first town council election was held and Chico won that election overwhelmingly. In those days there was an election of the entire council and then within themselves, they appointed the mayor. Pete Salazar was the deputy mayor and in the years to follow, Mr. Salazar and I were asked by the council to step up to the position of mayor but we declined because we felt Chico was doing an excellent job. Kudos to Mayor Gilberto Gomez.
There you go folks, a few more firsts in San Pedro, people who set the pace for development of our beautiful Island town of San Pedro. Things we enjoy today, actually started twenty five years ago…or more, if you will.