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#428230 - 01/18/12 08:26 AM History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye
Marty Offline

The archeologists tell us that, at its peak, there were between one million to two million Mayas living in the area known as the country of Belize. Now that is a very large population for this small piece of land. They must have been spread all over this land.

Archeologists also tell us that the Mayas settled and lived on this island, even before it had a name of Ambergris Caye. They were here about the year 1000 to 1200 and were very active on the island. Evidence suggests that there may have been up to fifty thousand living on Ambergris Caye. How active were they? Well, there is evidence that they were well spread all over the Island from north to south or from Basil Jones area to Boca Chica where Marco Gonzales site is being prepared for exhibition.

The Maya on Ambergris Caye traded with other indigenous people in the area. Items trades were fish, conch, salt, fabrics, and precious stones. One item that the Mayas certainly traded and were popular for was salt which abounded in the salt lakes on the island. It is strongly believed that the channel of Bacalar which separates this island from the Mexican peninsula was/is not a natural channel, but was dug by the Mayas to have access from the lagoon to the windward side of Ambergris Caye.

Ambergris Caye being a Coral Island is supposed to have only white coral sand. But what about the tons of black soil found on several areas of the island? Up North Ambergris Caye, there are huge areas with rich black top soil and it is highly believed that this was shipped by canoe from the mainland to Ambergris Caye. For those of you who might not know, exactly where Ambergris Stadium is located, there was a huge mound of rich black soil some one hundred feet in diameter and about four feet high. This black soil was all leveled when the stadium was being constructed, thus creating a soccer field in the middle of swampland. And just a couple of hundred feet away from my home in San Pablo where I live there is another mound of rich black soil with a lot of clay and broken pottery. It is a reserved area, a park so to speak, though I see a for “For Sale” sign on it today.

Wherever they lived, the Mayas tended to appear and disappear for whatever reasons. Can you imagine fifty thousands of them living on the island? Can you imagine how busy the island was even without tourists but with a lot of trading between our local Island Mayas and other indigenous Indians in the region? Belize and Ambergris Caye were an active part of the Costa Maya Route and they were the very first group of immigrants who settled on this island and in large numbers too. It is time to stop thinking about a tiny fishing village when indeed it was a part of the Great Maya Civilization.

Click here for the rest of the story and more pictures in the Ambergris Today

#428993 - 01/29/12 08:28 AM Re: History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye (Part Two) The Mestizos

After the gradual decline of the Mayas in Belize and their total absence on the Island of Ambergris Caye, this island was practically uninhabited. There was the presence of a few employees of those who claimed title and even an attempt to raise cattle and grow cotton on the island. Even these diminished, and the Island was practically vacant.

Just imagine an island covered with bush along the windward side and mangrove on the leeward side. There is fertile high land in many areas of the island and mosquito infested swamps land at other areas. The beach is all white and sandy but covered with seaweed and debris that drifts from the Caribbean to our shores.

Click here for the rest of the story and more pictures in the Ambergris Today

#429134 - 01/31/12 08:01 AM Re: History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye (Part Three) The Mestizos

The Mestizo settlers in Corozal District from 1846 to 1858 grew from 4500 inhabitants to 8000. On the other hand the Mestizo settlers to Ambergris Caye were some 30 houses with about 50 inhabitants. They probably consisted of relatives of fishermen who moved to the island when the Santa Cruz Maya revolted and became belligerent. The refugees who came to live here had also been farmers in Yucatan so these activities continued.

At first they obtained leasehold land fairly cheaply. They paid a rent of two dollars per year for a sizeable parcel of land to three brothers popularly known as Los Hermanos Bibbins (probably a Spanish corruption of the English name ‘Bevans’). The Mestizo settlers thought they were the owners of Ambergris Caye, when in fact they were agents of Welsh and Gough, who were two Belize City merchants who were the actual owners at the time. When the tenants could not find money to satisfy this rental, the Bevans were kind enough to accept payment in kind of chickens or eggs.

Click here for the rest of the story and more pictures in the Ambergris Today

#429724 - 02/06/12 02:20 PM Re: History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye (Part Four) -Benqueños

However in the middle of the 1970’s the tourism industry started growing by leaps and bounds. There was a need for girls to provide all the necessary services in hotels and restaurants. At this time the local girls working at the fishing cooperative started opting for these tourism related jobs and left for the hotels. This was a serious situation for the fishing cooperative that was at the peak of its export potentials. They needed man power which the young la dies provided and the men were not willing to do because they earned better wages fishing for lobster.

Suddenly someone had the solution.

Click here for the rest of the story and more pictures in the Ambergris Today

#430462 - 02/14/12 09:27 AM Re: History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

History of Immigration to Ambergris Caye (Part Five)

A review of the history of immigration to San Pedro shows the Mayas setting foot here around 1000 to 1200 followed by the small immigration of the Mestizos in 1848 when the village was first founded. San Pedro remained predominantly a Mestizo community for just over 100 years until late 1970 when Benqueñas (girls from Benque) were encouraged to come in San Pedro to be a part of the workforce at the fishing cooperative where they processed conch, fish and lobster for export to the United States of America. This was the apex of our fishing industry when our fishing cooperative was exporting about 180,000 pounds of fresh rock frozen lobster tails abroad.

After this first immigration of Belizeans from other districts, the word quickly went around that there were job opportunities in San Pedro. I will categorically say, however, that very few if any came to San Pedro to engage in the fishing industry. That job remained solely for Sanpedranos all the way into the 1980’s when the marine produce went into a gradual but fairly rapid decline. However by this time tourism was also showing a rapid growth, so the Sanpedrano fishermen turned into tourist guiding. This tourism industry also opened job opportunities for carpenters, masons, and other tradesmen, hotel and restaurant jobs, craftsmen, among others. By the same token there were new and numerous white collar jobs openings in gift shops, stores, business offices, government departments, airlines, insurance, and banking among many others specialized services.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the Ambergris Today


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