Our Community - Cesario Rivero - "Riding the waves with 'lightning' speed"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 12            March 22, 2001

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Cesario in his first skiff

Travelers to and from San Pedro these days have many transportation options. You can choose from soaring through the sky with a bird's eye view of the cayes and clear crystal waters to gliding in an open-air boat enjoying the panoramic view and gentle breezes caressing your hair. In days gone by, the second choice meant countless hours of sailing in a cargo boat. Thanks to the vision of this week's personality we can now cruise the Caribbean Sea in comfort and travel to the mainland in just over an hour. The San Pedro Sun is pleased to feature the mastermind behind one of San Pedro's first water taxi services - Mr. Cesario Rivero of Thunderbolt Ferry Services.

    Cesario was born in the Corozal District on February 25th, 1948 but moved to San Pedro when he was fifteen years old. Coming from a hardworking family, he immediately joined some of the local men on net fishing expeditions and later went into lobster and commercial fishing.

     During his seventh year on the island, Cesario married Valerie Dawson and together they had six children: Cesar, Julian and Christian (twins), Carlo, Johnnia and Janellie. Cesario continued to fish for a living but also looked for other ways to increase his income. To sustain his family, he also worked as a guide. As the town grew, hotels and restaurants began to sprout up and Cesario saw a potential business importing assorted fruits and vegetables to the island. He invested his savings in a 17 foot skiff, powered by a 75 horsepower engine to make the trips to Belize City to purchase produce. This venture proved profitable, as both businesses and locals were able to sample a wide variety of goods at the Rivero residence.

    As time went on, more and more often Cesario was approached by people (mainly British nationals at the time) asking for rides to Caye Caulker or Caye Chapel on his return trips to San Pedro. Generally loaded with merchandise, if he had space on his boat he would gladly welcome them aboard for a minimal fee. The continued demand for this service sparked an idea for yet another business opportunity which would provide additional income for his family. So using his same 17 foot skiff, Cesario celebrated the birth of Thunderbolt Ferry Service.

    Eventually, Cesario was able to invest the profits of this new venture into a larger 20 foot skiff; this boat being powered by a 200 horsepower engine. In a short time, business was booming for the Rivero family as more tourists and locals took advantage of the ferry, which was more affordable than flying. Through careful maintenance of their boats, the family provided safe and reliable transportation for their customers. This, coupled with their friendly service led to the success of Thunderbolt. In time, to accommodate the increasing number of passengers, it became necessary for Cesario to buy one of the largest ferry boats on the island - a 46 foot skiff with two-250 horsepower engines. 

    Today, Cesario Rivero is not only able to provide for his family but shares his business with them. Cesar, the eldest, is the company's manager, boat captain and also services and maintains the watercrafts. Chris is also a captain, as is Ronnie, Cesario's son-in-law. Julian and Carlo contribute to the administration and bookkeeping of the company. Even though Mr. Rivero maintains a very busy schedule supervising this thriving enterprise, he always manages to spend quality time with his grandchildren.

    Unfortunately, a set back in Cesario's life occurred in October of last year when Hurricane Keith destroyed all of Thunderbolt's vessels, leaving the family without income for four long months. In spite of this, Mr. Rivero, a determined businessman, managed to reestablish the ferry service by restoring only two boats.

     Mr. Cesario Rivero's future plans are already on the drawing board and include adding a scheduled trip to Corozal and eventually more frequent trips to Caye Caulker and Belize City. Presently the construction of a terminal on their premises (immediately behind the old football field) is underway that will serve a dual purpose as a seafood and vegetable market.

    Having had much good fortune, Cesario feels it is important to give back to the community and has done so many times. During the threat of Hurricane Mitch he volunteered his water fleet to evacuate people from the island. He offers students a special rate for class trips chartered on Thunderbolt and also gives discounts to Government officials and civil servants such as the police and health departments.

    In speaking with the San Pedro Sun, Mr. Rivero commented, "I am proud to provide a water ferry for the people of the island. Being a safety conscious man, I firmly believe in  updating our equipment for the safety and comfort of clients. My family's business is a reliable one and we are committed to service. Even if only one passenger shows up on our dock, we stick to our schedule. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the locals for their patronage throughout the years. They have played a crucial role in the success of our business and we are grateful for their loyalty."

    Through Thunderbolt Ferry Services, Mr. Cesario Rivero has definitely given traveling a new meaning. He is a pioneer of water transportation and has provided many an opportunity to "ride the waves" into "Our Community."

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