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If you like ‘em. More First’s on San Pedro Part 2

FIRST MISS SAN PEDRO: Lovely girls in San Pedro there have always been and Sanpedranos have no difficulty in locating one for a beautiful wife. But lovely and willing to participate in the Miss San Pedro pageant, there have not always been more than enough volunteers. The first volunteer to become Miss San Pedro back in 1955 was Leni Alamilla, who is mom to Leni, Chabby, and Lucy- all three beauties themselves.

FIRST BEAUTY SALON: The very first young lady who became interested in the art of beautifying young people was Helen Paz, a Sanpedrana who married a young man from Belize City. Her parents owned the Seabreze Hotel and later on the Sunbreeze Hotel. She studied in Mexico to be a beautician and did the honors in San Pedro with beauty queens, brides, quinceañeras and all the lovely Sanpedranas in general. Her success story led to the opening of some 8 beauty salons now operating in San Pedro.

FIRST ACCORDION BAND: You see them on television today. The accordion bands are extremely popular in southern United States, in Mexico and all over. In San Pedro the accordion bands started in the 1950’s and provided lots of dancing pleasure to San Pedro and neighboring X’calack for many years. El Conjunto Sargaso (The Sargasso Band) featured Wil Alamilla at the accordion with talented musicians like Emilio Rivero Sr. (guitar), Betito Marin (accompaniment), Carlos Marin Sr. (deceased- banjo), Johnny Forman ((bongos), and a few others. Accordion music provided boleros and cumbias for the dancing pleasure of Sanpedranos for some 15 years. Other accordion players that came on later were Ovidio Guerrero, Aldo Marin, Wilber Marin, Wil Nuñez, and Yours truly.

FIRST ALL ELECTRIC BAND: Caribeña Fishing Cooperative purchased some electric instruments including a saxophone and they were given to interested parties. From there the Sargasso Band started, but was really a combination of accordion, electric and acoustics. The first all electric band was named “The Shadows”. It featured Wil Nuñez with lead guitar, Wilber Marin with accompaniment, Angel Nuñez behind the bass, Nando Trejo at the drums, Oscar Aguilar as vocalist, and Pete Graniel with the tambourines. The Shadows made its debut in 1971 at a primary school dance. They played weddings and parties regularly for 50 dollars a night and on Sundays they entertained at Marinos Bar for 2 dollars a song. The Shadows broke up as individuals got married and left the group.

FIRST SCUBA DIVERS: Who really knows? It is hard to tell as it happened so casually. Good old Mr. Jim Corey probably had Scuba diving equipment on board his yacht, the Pamelyn. But as I recollect, Jerry McDermott and a partner of his who came to build Paradise Hotel some 40 years ago were among some of the first to engage in scuba ;diving. Allan Forman has also gone down in the “cenote” at Basil Jones with a tank. Do we call that scuba diving? Jerry and his partner, guided by an inexperienced guide, took a diving trip outside the reef one very windy and rough day. Jerry’s partner was never to be seen again. Either he surfaced too far away and was lost, or never surfaced, or was attacked by some sea monster, but sad to say, our early scuba diving has a death in its record. Today we do have highly qualified scuba diving instructors to guide our avid divers at Ambergris Caye.

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