In the days (25 years ago) when the population of San Pedro was some 500 persons, the way to move cargo between San Pedro and Belize City was by sailing boat. The first cargo boat was by sailing boat.
The first cargo boat to provide this service was the Elsa P., owned and sailed by the legendary Tio Pil (Felipe Paz), who is now retired and owns Lily’s Hotel.
The Elsa P. took empties of soda bottles and coconuts to the city in a 4 to 5 hour sailing trip on a fine windy day. The return trip to San Pedro with cargo or groceries, wood and some vegetables took 8 to 10 hours depending on the wind direction.
There’s Tio Pil at the rudder skillfully maneuvering the Elsa P., which also served as passenger transportation at the time.
Even Mrs. Elvia Staines used this “luxury” transport accompanied by Gloria Staines and Ivan Staines as well as Patricia Marin. They are all smiles not due to the first class seats (the deck) nor the 50 cents one way fare, but because they are going to the city.
Even though the Elsa P. made weekly trips to the city to satisfy our cargo needs of groceries and building supplies, families only made occasional trips to the city. These trips were considered special events 25 years ago – more or less like going to Chetumal or Merida today or even going to Miami for a shopping spree.
Now you know why the Elsa P. was a formidable part of San Pedro 25 years ago.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist