Gil Gonzalez: One of the First Divers and Fishing Guides of Belize
Gil was born September 18, 1948 on
San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize. As a young boy, he grew up fishing
and attended primary school until the age of 14 when he began commercial
fishing. During the next five years, he spent a lot of time free diving,
gathering up lobsters and conch, and spear fishing. He became very well
known for his fishing capabilities. His life would take a dramatic turn
when Jerry McDermott invited him to serve as a fishing guide at the
Paradise Hotel. He worked in that capacity for a few years until McDermott
brought Ramon Nunez in to open a dive shop at the resort. He then
began working as a dive guide.
Gil became one of the first four Belizeans
to be certified by Nyle Everett out of Houston, Texas in the late 1960's.
Gil continued to work for Jerry at the Paradise Hotel for more than
30 years as a diving and fishing guide. In the early days, a resort
diving course consisted of teaching
off the famous Paradise dock.
Gil became well known for his success
in the field of sport fishing. Throughout his long career as
a diver and guide, he never got the Bends. He and his colleagues were
very protective of the tourists they taught and guided and took pains
to follow the tables and safe diving protocol carefully.
Gil recalls that when he first started
diving, he did so with the 2250 steel tanks and never used weights.
He fondly remembers the first time he attempted to scuba dive.
His group of friends included Adolfo Ayuso, Ramon Nunez, and Eduardo
Brown, Sr. The young men were in their early 20’s, not yet certified,
borrowed dive equipment and set out for the cut in the reef called Dardenelos,
off the coast of San Pedro. Their collective dive knowledge merely consisted
of the rule “don’t hold your breath.” They jumped into the water
and saw the second largest Barrier Reef in the world for the first time.
These young boys went on to take thousands of people diving every year.
Gil was among these first native divers that spearheaded diving in the
country of Belize, rightfully earning him a place among the Legends
of Diving. Gil has a son and two daughters who have followed his
footsteps and become certified divers, as well. His son, Robbie,
is a dive master, carrying on the family diving tradition. Gil
still dives and serves as a fishing guide for tourists in San Pedro,
Ambergris Caye to this day.Int'l Legends of Diving
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