25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Back Street & Lagoon Development Since the 50's
If you think that the building of the seawall alongside the lagoon is a big development, well think again for there has been a lot of development in that area that has brought about much change to the area. Here's how that west side of the lagoon looked in the 1950's and thereon.
The back street as you know it today was non-existent. All those houses and business on the eastern side of the street like Graniel, Sansorez, Rivero, and even that huge complex owned by Ricky Staines were non-existent. That area or line was covered by bush or dense forest. Now as you cross over the street like La Popular, Flota, Guerrrero, Perez, even the beautiful three-story residence of Mr. Baldemar Graniel were also non-existent. That line was covered with mangrove. Yes, mangrove!
It was quite late in the 1960's when village council chairman Fedo Alamilla decided that this piece of the village could be used for housing and he had all the mangrove chopped down. There was no request for cutting down the mangrove from Ministry of the Environment. In fact, there was no MOE at that time. Once the mangrove was cut, a subdivision plan was made and in a short while villagers were applying for their piece of San Pedro. They were told that they had to take care of the filling of the place which was not only under water when it rained. It was always with a few inches of water from rain or high tide. I can tell you about that because when I built my house on Angel Coral Street (back street) in 1975 there were little fishes in my backyard when the high tide came. All of us residents in that area worked many years and hauled hundreds of dollars of fill to get our yards filled up. Trust me, the work was not easy but it is worth your sweat to own a piece of Isla Bonita. Isla Bonita was not given to Sanpedranos on a silver platter. And so no one today should expect that anything should be given free. We must all work hard if we want to own something good.
Now the entire edge of mangrove to the lagoon had been used for many purposes. This might sound unbelievable, but it is true. The first use of the lagoon edge was for public toilets. There were about ten jetties with toilets at the end of each one where all men used to do their daily needs. It was the village council in which I served in the 1980's that had the courage to shut down those toilets over the lagoon because that was the same area where the fishermen processed and washed their fish and other marine products. Did we expect opposition from the men of the village? Oh, yes and we did get it, but it was a necessary thing to do. Now they thank us for they all use proper flush toilets instead of the toilets over the sea.
Finally it was time to fill the last rows of lots near the lagoon edge. And once again the towns people used a lot of sweat to get those properties under adequate living conditions. What else will we see in that lovely area of town? We will see a wide and beautiful boulevard with beautiful lights. We will see restaurants hanging over the sea. We will see quaint little dive shops with all the facilities for the avid divers. We will even see gift shops lining the edge of the lagoon at a place where the sunset is even more quaint and romantic than the sunrise. And who do we thank for that? Twenty Five Years Ago salutes those who were courageous and had the vision to develop what seemed an unattractive and useless part of the town. As they say in Mexico: "Si se puede". Where there is a will, there is a way.