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The Founding of San Pedro

CHRONICLES  OF SAN PEDRO  by Maestro Angel Nunez
A document of people, events and turning points of San Pedro Ambergris Caye


Indeed the Maya Indians had a large population on the Island of Ambergris Caye but they never founded any community because they were nomads, people who moved in, enjoyed and moved on. There are sites on the island that are proof of their presence, but there is no community here as there is in Southern Belize. So after the Mayas abandoned the island, Ambergris Caye was barren of people; and was one big mass of sandy beaches, mangrove infested swampland, lots of wild animals, mosquitoes in abundance and pristine waters with abundance of fish, conch and lobster. 

That was until 1848. Prior to this date Mayas living in great numbers in the Mexican state of Yucatan. The arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, meant that the Mayas had to oppose them for fear of losing their land. However there were many Maya women who partnered with the Espanoles (Spaniards)and gave birth to children who were given Spanish names and surnames. These were the so called Mestizos or mixed blood.

The Founding of San Pedro

One of the first aerial images of San Pedro Village in its early development

Determined to oppose the Spaniards, The Mayas waged war against them and consequently against the Mestizos also. The battle was fierce and the Mestizos were forced to flee. This was the Caste War, or War of Classes – Indians against Indians. It is during this Caste War that a group of Mestizos fled into Belize, some sheltering into Corozal and Orange Walk, and some who paddled along the coast of Yucatan, found their haven on Ambergris Caye. 

It was the year 1848 when these small group of families landed on Ambergris Caye, did a reconnaissance of the land, and chose the narrowest strip of land on the southern end beginning at the canal which was mistakenly called a river or Boca Del Rio.

Most Mestizos used to practice subsistence farming of corn beans and peppers. In the homes traditional foods blended Maya and Spanish flavors and reflected the annual harvest. Corn played a key role in all dishes whether as tortillas, tamales, bollos or tamalitos. Black beans, squash, plantains, and peppers, of course, accented the Mestizo dishes. Traditional foods such as relleno negro, tamales, tacos, chirmole and escabeche filled the air in the small Mestizo community back then and have gained popularity within our country; today these dishes can be found on all tables of all cultural groups in Belize and some restaurants like Elvi’s Kitchen are reviving these delectable dishes. 

The Founding of San Pedro

The book.”The Little World of Danny Vasquez” along with anecdote by my father and grandfather have helped me to come up with some names of families that made up the newly founded village. These include Vasquez, Aguilar, Manrique, Moh, Cobo, Dxul, Kan, Kumul and Dzit. There were also Tolosa and Sansorez mentioned in a lot of  the stories of early San Pedro as well as Alamilla, Ancona, Trejo, Marin, Nuñez, Lopez, Loria, Rosado, Rodriguez, Gomez, Villanueva, Verde, Paz, Reyes, Gonzalez, Guerrero, Cardenez, Badillo, Castillo, Varela, Graniel and Rivero. Exactly who were the very first ten families is unclear but the list does honor to our early forefathers who founded the village and contributed to its development.   

The village was named San Pedro, the patron saint of fishermen. Here they lived a carefree life on land that was uninhabited and belonged to nobody, or at least so they thought for a few years until the British owners came to claim for their property. 

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