San Pedro's development has forced people to seek education in various categories to suit their working environment. Today, the San Pedro Tour Guide Association reports a total of 212 members. These members need to go through a series of courses and studies to be approved as members. But how was it when San Pedro was just a fishing village and tourism was something that was just beginning to blossom? Who really was the first fishing guide in San Pedro? How and what was it like? A personality that is easily identified by the Captain's hat he wears on a daily basis is your answer. Mr. Abel Guerrero Sr. was the person to begin this art, paving the way for many others that followed.
Abel was born in San Pedro on September 21st, 1937 to Baldemar Polanco and Aurelia Guerrero. Growing up, he attended San Pedro R.C. School. After S tandard VI he followed in the footsteps of the other young men and got involved in fishing. One of his first jobs, he recalls, was transporting fresh fish to sell in Corozal and Belize City. As he got more involved in the industry, he developed a keen liking for fishing. Abel married Martha Nuñez on November 14th, 1959 and from their marriage were born four children; Abel Guerrero Jr., Concha Nuñez, Jaime Guerrero and Gilmar Guerrero. They are now the grandparents of nine children.
In 1961, Abel became the first tour guide in San Pedro, working for the Holiday Hotel. Abel was in charge of picking up the guests from Belize City and bringing them to San Pedro. All this was done in his sailboat. Once settled in the hotel, Abel would once again be in charge of sharing his fishing skills. The charge during those days for a full day of fishing was US$5. Fish were abundant and a good catch was guaranteed. By two or three in the afternoon, he would return from a successful fishing day. It was customary that after fishing, the rest of the afternoon would be shared with his clients; having some beers and reminiscing about the day's activities. As the tourism industry started to develop, so did the lifestyle in San Pedro. Abel has now substituted his sailboat with a new skiff equipped with outboard engines; he named it "Martha".
Today, Mr. Abel is a respected person in our community. This is because of his personal and professional attributes. He has mastered all the skills of fishing gaining him the recognition he has today. His clientele consists mostly of repeat customers; some that have been traveling to San Pedro for as many as 25 years. With his larger skiff, he now specializes in custom fishing trips, picnics, snorkeling and site trips. When asked about the difference between the guiding days of yesterday and today, he commented, "Before, we were a small group of guides about seven or eight. The hotels would call us at our homes. They didn't charge for commission. There was not as much competition as there is today." Guiding has become a part of Abel. He continued by saying, "Tour guiding is my life. I will guide until I can no more. I like it so much that I don't consider it a job, but a pleasure."
Even though this art has played a major role in his life, Abel has also been an integral part of the development of our community. He was an alcalde for many years and worked with the San Pedro Credit Union. He is a founding member of the San Pedro Lions Club holding all the ranks in the club including the Treasurer's position for ten consecutive years. He was also one of the founders of Caribeña Fishing Co-operative in San Pedro. Mr. Guerrero has also been a lay minister with the Catholic Church for eighteen years and a Commissioner of the Supreme Court for nine years. From the period that he first became a fishing guide, he has strived to always do everything to the best of his abilities. He has succeeded in doing this, and has done it with great humility and pleasure. Abel Guerrero Sr. is quality material here in San Pedro and has earned all the admiration and respect he enjoys today. He was the first fishing guide in this island and is an overall "FIRST" in Our Community.
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