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Growing Stages of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

By Angel Nuñez
You are looking at an aerial shot of the village of San Pedro back in the 1950s. The perimeters of San Pedro were from the beach side to the lagoon side on the west. On the south side the village commenced at the present day R.C School and ended at the cemetery on the north end. That was the entire village of San Pedro with a population of about four hundred inhabitants all of Mestizo descent with the exception of one or two families. It fit the description of a laid back serene fishing community perfectly.  

And then the expansion began. Mr. Milo Paz Sr. was the first to build just ahead of Mr. Ramon Badillo (+) right in front of the cemetery. Just ahead of the cemetery one Mr. Roger Reid had purchased from the Blake family all that piece of land that ran all the way to the Boca del Rio. (Section A on photo). The first one to purchase a piece of land outside of the village limits was a foreigner who built the first cabaña resort- Paradise Hotel. That hotel was considered for many years to be outside of the village confines. Mr. Reid built a small family home but never developed it anymore.

Growing Stages of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Hurricane Hattie had hit the island in 1961 and that displaced many of the village folks. Some who lived on the beach moved to higher grounds and many folks with large yards divided them and shared with their relatives. Then there was the establishment of the Caribeña Fishing Co-operative which brought unprecedented progress to the Island. The village began to grow rapidly in population, housing, and infrastructure.

The village council at the time was under the leadership of Mr. Enrique Staines Sr. (+) and our Area Representative was Hon. Louis Sylvestre (+). It was this village council and its land committee that commenced lobbying with the government under the leadership of PUP Premier Right Honorable George Price. Note that his title was that of premier since Belize had not yet attained its independence.

Growing Stages of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Mr. Enrique Staines Sr. (+)

Growing Stages of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Hon. Louis Sylvestre (+)

In 1971 the Government of George Price acquired all that parcel of land marked as Section A on photo and set it aside only to be used for residential expansion. The government agreed to pay Mr. Roger Reid the cost of the land as the court had determined. Whatever the price paid for this huge parcel of land has remained unknown but there again nobody cared. The very first lots issued by the Lands Committee of San Pedro in conjunction with the Lands Department were in the first half of the land from the main street all the way to the beach. This subdivision was aptly named Boca Del Rio  

About one hundred lots were issued in this first phase of expansion along the beach and along the main road. At the time of the lots being issued, there were no streets opened, no electricity, water, telephone or water system. It was high bush and some coconuts as seen in Section A. It was here that our good Area Representative personally came to San Pedro High and offered an entire block for the purpose of the expansion into a new San Pedro High School Building.  

Growing Stages of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

San Pedro High School Lot

The rest of the story of this first subdivision of San Pedro is one of patience, hard work, clearing land, opening streets, gradual electrification, and construction of one house at a time, residences, San Pedro High School, and then shops, stores, restaurants, hotels, and more. It is no longer a residential zone alone as intended, but neither is San Pedro the picturesque sleeping village. Now you can better appreciate Boca Del Rio Sub Division from its very origins. And you can trust me that you are getting the story 100% since I was there from the very beginning as village council treasurer under the renowned late Alcalde Mr. Enrique Staines Sr.

Growing Stages of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Boca del Rio Today

Cover Photo by Lucilo Ayuso

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today Online Newspaper -Jose Luis Zapata Photography –Richie’s Stationery -Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush, A & R
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