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More First’s for San Pedro

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 GRADUATION: Graduations in other parts of Belize go over one hundred years ago. In San Pedro it dates back to the year 1976 when San Pedro High held its first graduation ever with eleven proud graduates of its first graduation class. The first recipients were Abel Guerrero Jr., Clarita Ancona Paz, Milly Castillo, Guillermo “Mito” Paz, Orlando Trejo, Odilia Nunez, Lydia Gonzalez Lavin, James Azueta, Efrain Guerrero Jr. and Pedro “Sony” Vasquez. The very first diplomas were signed by Principal Angel Nunez and Hon. Said Musa who was Minister of Education.

FIRST QUEEN: Our first beauty queen dates back to the year 1956 when Leni Aguilar Alamilla was selected and crowned as San Pedro’s first queen. Prior to that there were no celebrations of September 10, our National Day, but George Price entered as political leader and started creating a national awareness of our identity. Soon San Pedro had its first lovely Miss San Pedro.

FIRST PRESIDENT: The tiny fishing village of San Pedro had no need for presidents like president of Lions, Red Cross, Chamber of Commerce, Alcoholic Anonymous, and other organizations. The first need of a president was when the fishing cooperative was founded. Mr. Jeminiano Aguilar was duly elected to act as the first president of San Pedro’s Caribena Fishing Cooperative. He is deceased, but survived by Julie Aguilar Alamilla, Oscar Aguilar, and Leni Aguilar Alamilla. His first office was downstairs of Tio Pil’s house where Cholo’s is presently located. It used to be a storage room for corned fish.

FIRST STORE: Where was San Pedro’s first store. Take a big guess. Here’s a clue. It was located where present day Alliance Bank is. Yes, it was a store owned by the Blake family, the wealthiest family and powerful family in San Pedro. Well, they had bought the entire island for 625 dollars Belize. They had coconut plantations etc. and they employed a lot of the Sanpedranos to work in the harvesting of coconuts. Well, they had a nice store, concrete floor, polished shelves and even glass counter. For us Sanpedranos it was like being in a shopping mall today. It was the only place in the entire island where you could get something cold. The name of the store was El Comisariato. You, know it has enough history to have a weekly column all by itself. Next week, okay?

FIRST COMMERCIAL LOBSTER BUYER: Thirty five years ago the selling of barbecued bony fish for 10 cents and boiled lobsters for 5 cents each was common around the streets of the village of San Pedro. Then commercial buying of lobsters brought a boost to San Pedro. Mr. Efrain Guerrero Sr. was the first buyer who did so for an agent in Belize City who then exported them to the United States. Mr. Guerrero weighed the whole lobster at the beach. He then loaded hundreds (yes, hundreds) of sacks of whole lobster into his boat, La Ilda, and sailed away to Belize City to deliver to his agent. As a child I remember good prices starting at 8 cents per pound and fishermen were extremely happy. On first day of the season I remember my father delivering up to sixty sacks of lobsters each weighing some 60 to 75 pounds. (Full story on this topic soon)

It’s not that being first is the most important thing in your life, but knowing that you were a pioneer and helped in the forming and development of your community brings some form of satisfaction. These issues on first’s, gives acknowledgement to those people who helped carve San Pedro. Kudos, thumbs up, congratulations, our respect to all of you.

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