Adolfo Ayuso: Fishing Guide, One of the First Scuba Divers & Dive Shop Operators in Belize
Adolfo Ayuso was born in Xcalak Quintana
Roo on February 20, 1950. While still a baby, only a year
old, his family moved to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize. He grew
up in the little fishing village of San Pedro and attended only elementary
school before joining his father and older brother to help support the
family at the age of 12 years. Like many in the village, they
made their living by fishing and diving for lobster, which they would
sell in Belize City. He worked and learned the trade alongside his father
and brother until he set off on his own at the age of 18 to work as
a guide and dive master.
Adolfo’s cousin, Ramon Nunez, was
the first certified native diver in Ambergris Caye. Adolfo and
his friends, Eduardo Brown and Gil Gonzalez, soon followed in his footsteps,
becoming certified by the same instructor, Nyle Everett. He married
his wife, Yolanda, at the age of 19 and the first of their four children
was born the next year.
First Dive Shop
Operator at Ramon's
Ayuso was one of the first natives
of Belize to own and operate a dive shop. He ran the Dancing Dolphin,
the shop affiliated with Ramon’s Village. An outgoing man like
his cousin, Ramon, Adolfo drew people to himself and diving with his
love of life and sense of adventure. His co-workers remember
him as a kind man with a soft heart and a lover of the sea, which he
enjoyed and challenged. The sun sent him a smile that warmed any
social gathering he attended. Known as a loyal friend, he was
always quick to offer a joke, a smile, or even a fish. His love
of life drew people to him like a magnet. Tragically, his life would
be cut all too short in a diving accident on June 2, 1985.
L-R Jeff Rice,
Adolfo and Ramon
Nunez - early 80's
The accident occurred when he took
some tourists from Houston to dive in the cave under Caye Caulker.
This is the same cave that Cousteau had explored. He became disoriented
and was unable to find his way out. A plaque was placed in the
front of the cave with Adolfo's name on it. His death was a great loss
for San Pedro. He was only 35 years old and left a wife and four young
When friends and family recall his
short but very full life, they all talk about his smile,
his readiness to help a friend in need, and his love of dancing at Carnival. He was
truly the “life of the party” and brought joy to those who were
privileged to know him. His diving talents were superior to the average
diver. Adolfo could dive and only use 1000 psi on a 60 min dive.
Sometimes he would change his tank for a couple of days. He was a fish
in the water and swam like one. As a guide, he was determined to make
the tourist happy. One diver recalls the first time his son went
diving in the ocean. Though there was some concern about the strong
current, Adolfo had it all worked out. He laughed as he tied 50 feet
of rope to the waist of the diver's son. Adolfo would simply retract
the rope when he wandered
Adolfo's wife, Yolanda
and their children
too far from the group. The young boy darted
around happily and, when it was time to ascend, Adolfo just reeled him
in just like a big Grouper.
Adolfo, his brother Pete,
and Ramon Nunez Jr
An avid promoter of scuba diving, shortly
after hearing about the diving organization D.A.N., he was seen in
a dug-out canoe with the D.A.N. sticker affixed to its side. He
immediately began promoting D.A.N. to divers throughout the island.
Ayuso was also a proud member of the Lion's Club and was seen regularly,
along with his wife, Yolanda, at the club dances. He loved his
community and donated hours of his time to children in need. His humanitarian
giving is legendary on the island. Adolfo would organize and raise funds
for any project the Lion's Club was working on.
Though he died far too young, his life
continues on through his children Zoby, Mari, Tulita, and Adolfito.
Adolfo Ayoso Jr has followed in his father's footsteps as one of the
PADI Dive Instructors at Ramon's Village. He teaches scuba diving to
tourists, as well as the children of the island. His father would
no doubt be proud of the contribution his son has made to diving--the
sport he lived and died for.
Adolfo Ayuso, Jr
Int'l Legends of Diving
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