Born on May 4, 1956 to a Cuban
father (Manuel) and an American mother (Verna), Marty Casado was raised in
Wichita, Kansas. A self-proclaimed "computer geek," Marty admits to being a
"math junkie" who took computer classes as early as 1974.
Following graduation, Marty married his high school sweetheart, Becky, and
together with five other friends, they moved "en masse" to Eugene, Oregon.
Having worked in restaurants all his life, Marty easily found work in the big
city. After some time, he became the chef at one of the finest dining
establishments in Eugene, the North Bank Restaurant located on the Williamette
In 1994, when he was not performing his duties as
Executive Chef, Marty began creating a web site for a local Eugene school and
served as the school's computer consultant as well. In his spare time, he also
wrote articles for computing magazines.
year, while working for a computer company called Advantage Information
Management, Marty heard about a wonderful place called Ambergris Caye. His boss,
Alan McNeil, had visited the island and decided to create a web site for the up
and coming tourist destination. In April of 1996, Marty joined Alan for his
first visit to "paradise". Through Wil and Susan Lala of Caribbean Villas, the
two met Bruce and Victoria Collins, who were at the time the editors of The San Pedro Sun. They, in turn, introduced Marty
and Alan to the community. After establishing all the necessary contacts for
their project, the Oregon businessmen submitted a bid to establish the
destination's web site, and following an official endorsement from the San Pedro
Town Council, AmbergrisCaye.com was born.
Marty became sole owner of the company, renaming it Casado Internet Group. Now a
family enterprise, his wife Becky, daughter Myah (22) and son Ryan (19) combine
their individual talents to make AmbergrisCaye.com one of the finest web sites
in Belize. "I owe everything to my family for all their hard work and the
support they give me," said Marty.
What started out as a
very small enterprise soon became a full-time job. The results of Marty's
efforts are evident as AmbergrisCaye.com receives 8-9,000 visitors per day.
"Someday, I'll calculate how many hits that is per minute," Marty joked. "I
probably work 50-60 hours-a-week on the site between the message board,
answering E-mails and distributing print materials (copies of
The San Pedro Sun, glossy brochures, books, etc.) to anyone
interested in receiving more information on Ambergris Caye," he continued.
Because of his reputation as the "off-island tourist information center,"
potential visitors to Ambergris Caye drop by his house in Eugene at least twice
a month. "At the house, I have maps of the country and the cayes on my office
walls; I keep my clocks set to Belize time in there," Marty explained. He also
lends out Belize reference books on a regular basis.
credits numerous people with his love of Ambergris Caye but recalled his first
underwater experience as a life-changing event: "I must mention my ėmidwife'
Norman Eiley who literally helped give birth to my love for this island and the
sea, by putting me in the water and waiting patiently until I decided to come
out, some five hours later!" He also works extensively with Julian Rivero,
his "local island computer expert".
Other than updating
current business information, Marty continues to collect old pictures and local
island memorabilia to add to the web site's historical section. He credits local
marine biologist Richie Woods for a "mountain" of research material used in the
beginning of AmbergrisCaye.com and the data Richie is currently sharing with
him. "Richie likes looking for treasure and he's already got it - his extensive
research material about the area," Marty exclaimed.
Marty Casado also works a "real job to get him out of
the house," as a computer consultant for the International Society of Technology
and Education (ISTE). This company assists school systems with computer hardware
and software needs for their computer education curriculum.
To get a little exercise, Marty plays soccer - a sport he
has enjoyed for the past twenty years. He actively participates on the Eugene
"over-40" Soccer League as a "right wing". Aside from being a soccer fiend,
Marty's other hobbies include snow skiing, snow boarding and being a "house
As if all this were not enough, in times of need,
Marty Casado comes shining through like a champ. During both Hurricane Mitch and
Keith, Marty was instrumental in distributing information over the Internet as
to the status of the island and the location of its residents. He and his
"friends" have also donated to several local charities for one reason or
another. Marty's generosity does not stop there, for he provides free web
services to the Saga Humane Society, The San Pedro Lions Club, the San Pedro
Roman Catholic School, the San Pedro High School, the San Pedro Town Council, to
name but a few.
Someday, when his kids are settled, Marty
hopes to "retire" in Ambergris Caye, and build a little house on the lagoon side
of the island. "I love it here, especially the people. There aren't so many
rules - I love the ėNo Shoes, No Shirt' and less
The fact that so many people continue to arrive
on the shores of Ambergris Caye is not surprising, especially when there are
people like Marty Casado marketing and generally "overseeing" the situation here
on the island. We can only hope that someday, someone will want to fill those
big shoes whenever Marty decides to become a more permanent and visible part of "Our Community."