I guess that the presence of so many banks in San Pedro speaks of the booming economy of the Island. So does that mean that when there was only one bank, the economy was very bad? Not really. You have to start with one, right? Some parts of this story will really make you nostalgic of those good old days, but then, aren’t we very happy with all the banking services today?
Banking does not go back to the beginning of the last century. Nopes, people buried their gold coins back then. It does not even go as far back as 1960. The first bank to set foot in San Pedro was a proud Scotia Bank some time around the middle or late 1970’s. Their office was located right across Chico’s Meat Shop where there is a barber shop presently. Then it moved to Main Street and rented the downstairs of the house that belongs to Mash Salazar, now the office of Mouse Pad. Two bank clerks from the Belize City Branch used to come to San Pedro once a week to offer banking services to fishermen, a few tourist guides and tourists, of course. Mirna Castillo, a friend of mine, used to be a regular teller at the office. Business was so slow that a times you would find both girls sitting outside chatting in the shade while catching the cool breeze. Those must have been Belize’s happiest bank tellers. At other times you would see them nodding inside the bank or eating green mangoes with salt and were only too happy when a customer walked in to do some business or at least to chat. A metal cash box used to be flown in weekly with enough cash to conduct business…no security guard, no pistols or rifles. They walked from the airstrip to the bank. Isn’t that unique? This is the part of San Pedro that I truly miss.
Exactly why The Bank of Nova Scotia closed doors is unknown to me, but hey, they are back in full scale to the delight of everyone in San Pedro. The second bank to offer services to San Pedro and this time six days a week was the Atlantic Bank. Their first office, most of you remember, was at the Spindrift Building and now in their own building. Obviously a growing town with a growing economy has invited other banks to the Island so that we are blessed with The Belize Bank, The Alliance Bank, First Caribbean, Caye International Bank, and we can also throw in Xavier Credit Union with banking services as well. It is not as romantic as when the metal cash pan used to be walked down the street, but it is certainly proper to say “Kudus” to all the banks for their vision and confidence in San Pedro. Twenty Five years Ago salutes you all. We have surely come a long way from when the villagers used to bury their money in a clay pot at the corner of the yard, but that is another story I’ll have to reveal to you. And please don’t get your shovels ready to start digging. Wait for the details.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist