It was the winter of 1986 and my husband Franc and I found ourselves living in heavenly San Pedro for six months for the second winter in a row. We scored a beach front rental from Gil Gonzalez and spent our days in bathing suits snorkeling the crystal clear waters and our evenings in t-shirts and shorts. If you put on flip flops, someone invariably stopped you on the front street, which was all sand, and asked you where you were going and why you were “dressed up”. I always went barefoot, for the whole six months, but Franc always had these ugly black tire tread sandals on as he did not like to go barefoot.
The year before we had been on the pier in front of Paradise at 10:30 at night and found a small boy about 5 years old, all alone on the pier. We came to understand that this was the carefree lifestyle that San Pedro and Ambergris Caye offered. The ability for a small child to be out on his own and unafraid of strangers.
We came to know Alberto “Caco” Trejo, and ironically he lived next door to us. Well, maybe not so unusual for such a small island! We fell in love with this child and he took a liking to us. We quickly advanced from him stopping in after school for help with his homework, (his English being as limited as our Spanish) to Alberto coming to our place for lunch, to spending the weekends in our extra bed and most evenings accompanying us to dinner. Dinner was always at Elvi’s Kitchen, Paradise, lobster at Fido’s or the new pizza place near the Salty Dog gift shop. There really was not much more to choose from.
One Friday evening as we prepared to stroll off for dinner, Alberto was nowhere to be found. We searched and waited a bit and finally left for dinner. We went to the “new” Chinese restaurant, where we had never eaten before. (I can still taste their delicious lobster dish)! About 5 minutes after we ordered, here comes Alberto walking into the restaurant and slides into the booth next to me. Our mouths dropped as we had no idea how he found us. We’d never eaten there before, let alone taken him there. We proceeded to eat our lovely meal and finished our night.
The next day as the three of us were walking down Front Street, Alberto proudly riding high on Franc’s shoulders, he pointed down to the sand street and said “mira, Franc”. We looked and there, sure enough, was Franc’s tire tread sandal print forever etched into the street until the next rain. We looked at each other and both said…”that’s how he found us last night…he tracked us!”.
Just one of my fabulous memories of my time in San Pedro. Franc sadly passed away 7 years later. The good news to the end of this story is Alberto, his wife, and two beautiful children now live in Florida, not too far from me, and I have a “son,” daughter-in-law and two grandkids! Thank you, San Pedro for a forever gift!
The colorful contribution above by Kai Martin is a nice piece of Ambergris Caye History and a great reminder of simpler days. Thankfully she just finished scanning a bunch of pictures so you can have the real deal for old time visuals that go with her great story about how San Pedro was back in the day.