Traditionally in Belize, the beaches overflow with activity during Easter. However in San Pedro, the beach has always been the most popular relaxation spot Easter or not, and also during summer, Baron Bliss Day, September, Christmas and any time during the year especially on Sundays. This beach-loving tradition goes back even in the 1060’s.
This might not be a grand slam, but it is a slam nevertheless. All of those permit in one catch is any angler’s dream. And we are not talking about all the fish fillet to be enjoyed, but all the fun in fighting to land these permit in the boat. Dennis Eiley is not looking too happy because he cannot boast it was his catch.
This cannon is evidence of the Spanish armada that sailed outside our reef in the sixteenth century leading to the Battle of St. George’s Caye in 1798. Today you can find shipwrecks, cannons and cannon balls along the reef north of San Pedro Town. This one was found by master skin diver Adolfo Ayuso (deceased) in the 1970’s. It stands at the yard of San Pedro High School.
How many Sanpedranos were born in the village of San Pedro in the 1930’s 40’s and even 50’s? If you were, chances are that you were born and raised in these humble thatch houses, which were mansions in those days. The thatch leaves came from the bush up north in the area of Basil Jones. It was nobody’s land so the thatch leaves and the pimento sticks were both free of cost. Labor was free because every villager was skilled in laying down the leaves and nailing or tying the sticks together.
THE YEAR IS 1925 and these San Pedranos have just returned from their long trek in the bush where they had been bleeding sapodilla trees for the sap with which chewing gum was made. They were certainly not fishermen for they dress completely different. It was the era of chicleros (chewing gum harvesters) and coqueros (coconut harvesters).
Conch has always been an interesting natural resource, especially when it abounded around the shallow waters of Ambergris Caye. It made an interesting show for tourists on how to get that sucker out, like don Ramon Badillo illustrates. Some lovely shells actually make excellent souvenirs and collectible items.
Here is the first pier built in San Pedro for tourist guides and their guests. We can only wonder how many wheelbarrows full of fish have traveled down the Holiday Hotel pier, where Celi McCorkle has welcome guests since 1965. Tourist guides like Abel, Jose, Gaby, Lucilo, Manuel and Pete must have filled several dozens over their 25 year period.
Perhaps the comparsa (carnival dance group) that has attracted the most popularity both by dancers as well as the viewing public is Los Negritos. Actually it should be named Las Negritas as the guys delighted to pantomime Black African/ Garifuna women by making everything fake - boobs, buttocks, hair and skin color.
In the 1950’s to the 1970’s one of the most popular Carnival dances was Las Chinitas. The Chinese were completely alien to San Pedro; therefore it was a lot of fun to see people disguised like Chinitas and Chinitos dancing around the village speaking Spanish but with a Chinese accent and their baskets full of fruits.
You are looking at the San Pedro High School grounds in 1982. These girls are standing were the Angel Nuñez Auditorium is today and in front of them would be the three story building of San Pedro High. People were enthusiastic about building a high school which had successfully graduated seven classes. In the picture you can see Tio Pil, who supported the school 100%.
We’ll take you through the obvious in this aerial courtesy of our good friend David Childs who lived in San Pedro for quite some time. The Salazar family building with Jenny’s Store was still there in place of Tabony’s mini mall.The Island Plaza has replaced the tiny office for South Wind Properties, and the Lions Den is a one floor building.
Back to school is the same today as it was back then. It is all about wearing your neatest uniform and your best pair of shoes as well as having a neat hair cut and looking sharp. It means having your school bag with all your textbooks and equipment ready to challenge the day’s lessons.
What did people do with sharks this small in San Pedro? Pose for the camera as this pioneer tourist guide, Abel Guerrero did? Take a picture and then release it? No way Jose! A small shark like this one is called “cazon” and it makes one of the most delectable fish dishes you can ever imagine.