This past weekend I was having a very pleasant and interesting conversation with my very good friends Wil Escalante and Thomas Kirkpatrick. Among other interesting things, Wil asked me if I had any more land apart from those where my house is located. His real question was whether I had inherited any land from my father.
Now, Wil owns quite an amount of beachfront land which he got from his parents. I will not calculate the price of his land but it must be a fortune. Kirkpatrick purchased one hundred feet of beachfront in the 1960’s for only $1,000 which is interestingly quite some good real estate today.
So we ended discovering how some people got large portions of land along the coast of Ambergris Caye. Of the entire population of Ambergris Caye, comprised of some 30 families, only about 10 of those families had real estate on the caye. This was handed down for some 100 years to other family members and many of them sold them to American investors in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. The cash obtained seemed very good at the time, but if they had held on to that land up until today, especially beachfront land, they would all be millionaires. So why did my father not make me a millionaire?
It seems that most families who got land were people who were directly employed by the Blake, Alamilla, and Parham families in the coconut industry. After many long years of dedicated service, they were rewarded with plots of land either at small fees or gifts. Others were friends of the same families and purchased under the same terms or bought it from the other Sanpedranos who first got their plots of land.
Another theory is that some of these persons who got land actually married into the families of landlords and thus got their big deal. Whatever the case, those who got land got it so that they could continue in the coconut industry which was quite lucrative at the time. Coconuts were harvested, baked into copra (dried coconut meat), and sold to the Alamilla’s and Blake’s who then exported it. Coconuts were also sold in Belize City to other agents for five cents a piece.
And so it was that some families got plots of land. They used the land until they changed into fishing. When the land seemed useless, they sold. Most Sanpedranos today do not own any more land along the coast of Ambergris Caye.
Some have kept a few acres and have handed it over to their children. Perhaps three generations have enjoyed this special privilege. As to the Nunez family, it seems they were always in the fishing industry and had little contact with the landlords in the coconut industry, so they did not have the opportunity to buy cheap land or receive gifts.
And now I know why my father did not make me a millionaire today. Well, I can’t blame him because his dad did not inherit him either. Therefore, if I want to become a millionaire today, I will have to work very hard or do something illegal, which I do not think is a very good idea. Another good idea is to try to marry into Escalante’s family or Kirkpatrick, but that is a bit too late for me. Got the point? See how land was handed down not twenty five years ago, but 75 years ago?
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist