We must say kudos to these men and operators of the famous lighters or flat-bottomed sailing boats used for cargo. In the late 1970’s when San Pedro Village was transitioning from wood buildings to concrete, these lighters brought all the river sand, pine ridge sand, gravel or sand and gravel from the mainland to San Pedro. They used to sail up the river and with hand shovels load up the lighter with gravel or river sand. Then they set sail for San Pedro and immediately upon arriving at the main pier, day or night, and proceeded to unload the gravel or sand as seen in this Flashback pic. This was certainly a time consuming, tedious and arduous job but it earned them one hundred dollars per lighter load of some 5 to six cubic yards of material, and on a good week they probably managed up to four trips.
This perfect and happy relationship would have continued for long time until up pops the foreign investors with their big cash and their “Give Me First Service” attitude. So they offered the boat operators double the cash per boat load. The men in the lighters gladly accepted the “little extra” and the locals had to wait second in line for their loads of sand and gravel. And that is how the cost of building materials doubled their price and still double in San Pedro compared to all other places in Belize. However, we can still say, Long live the lighters of Belize City!