The Ramon’s Village Resort sign says it all. Ramon’s is one of Ambergris Caye’s iconic and historic resorts that offers a true island stay. They don’t try to mimic the typical mega resorts grandioso feel. However, they do offer personal service, delicious cuisine and beautiful views from their beachfront location.
Ramon’s Village Resort sits on the same plot of land where 83 families homesteaded on Ambergris Caye in 1869. San Pedro, the name given to the village by the colonials and still remains today was destroyed by a hurricane in 1942. Ambergris Caye’s first known hotel was built where Ramon’s Village Resort resides today. The island and hotel were destroyed by another devastating hurricane in 1961. The site remained in ruins for 20 years until a group of investors bought it. After shares of ownership where negotiated in 1987, a single owner was established and he settled on Ramon’s current name.
As Maureen and I were relaxing at a bar & grill on the south end of the beach, a call came in that stunned everyone around us. It was rumored that the bright glow in the northern night sky was coming from Ramon’s Village. The American owners of BC’s bar & grill (shown right) were trying to confirm the rumor. We rushed to finish our snacks and beverages so we could head towards home. As we got closer to the condo, we confirmed the questionable rumor by three very distinctive elements. They were the fierce glow in the sky was from a very bright source, the smell of burning timber and a loud crackling noise. It told us that an intense situation was just around the corner.
Once we got to our condo’s entrance, which is just two properties down from Ramon’s was a scene that we didn’t want to believe. It took only a few seconds to digest the situation at hand. We immediately volunteered our help. Maureen headed towards the beach entrance of Ramon’s and I immediately started handing buckets of seawater to the fire line. When we first arrived in San Pedro and saw the small volunteer fire station, I jokingly said something like, “What would happen if a fire broke out”? I replied to myself by saying I guess a good old fashion bucket brigade will have to do! I was now living that moment.
The Resort’s whole north end was fully engulfed in flames. The four fireman and one pumper truck was on scene and already overtaken by the out of control flames. Here is where the community got involved. Two bucket lines were formed. One to feed full pails of seawater to the fire line and another to return them for refills. I jumped in the line that transported the full buckets and started handing them to the runners who were dousing the flames. There were all types of containers used to hold the precious liquid that laid within feet of the blazing fury. All that water and limited resources to get it where we needed it the most.
The photo shown left provides plenty of evidence that the north end of the resort was completely lost. All the attention now was being shifted to the center and south portion of the resort. The town’s people were feverishly concentrating on saving what had not been overtaken by the sweeping flames. And by God we did just that. The following photos will help you understand the magnitude of the fire and the odds that we were against.
This is one of the very few frontline photos taken that captures the dedicated efforts to save any part of Ramon’s Village Resort. After hours of passing buckets and using borrowed water hoses from neighboring homes, our persistence started to pay off. We were able to start beating back the relentless wall of flames. Overcome by exhaustion and aching muscles, we retreated back to our condo and fell asleep. But not before reviewing the nights horrific events.
When we woke up that next morning, we by-passed our morning rituals and headed directly next door. Come to find out our efforts saved most of the south end of the resort. The community of San Pedro managed to put aside their social and financial differences to help a local business in distress. Many parts of the world can sit up and take notice on how the citizens of San Pedro conquered the odds by working together. The comradery between the Belizeans was at its highest for the next couple days after.
Part 2 of the dramatic event will be named “The Morning After”. It will continue this adventure by giving you written details and explicit day after photos showing the fire’s vast destruction.
Author: Anthony Scopel & Maureen Scopel
Photographer: Anthony & Maureen Scopel
Dedicated to the residents of San Pedro