Twenty five years ago, Sanpedranos with injuries of the bones went straight to a little house on Front Street, now Barrier Reef Drive. This small house with one window on the front and a door on the side was situated exactly where the Belize Bank is across the street from Spindrift Building. People went there to the home of Mr. Victor Lara, who was gifted by God to heal dislocations of bones and bone deformities. In Spanish we say-“Tenía un don”.
Mr. Victor Lara was born in San Pedro on November 18, 1907, and lived a humble life as a coconut farmer. He was well and robustly built and worked in the coconut plantations, called “cocales”, collecting coconuts and shelling or husking them for two dollars per 1000 coconuts. Don Victor (his friends called him Bata) was one of those who could husk up to 3000 coconuts, a necessity for survival.
But his fame and popularity with the young and old alike was not due to his speed and prowess at peeling coconuts. Rather it was due to his magic touch at healing dislocations. My father used to say, “One visit to Mr. Victor Lara and you will be as good as new.” And how right he was. This man had a magic touch when it came to bones. At the tender age of 12, Victor healed his first of many patients. His father’s friend received the first healing from Victor’s magical hands and in gratitude, the gentleman gave Victor a pair of tennis shoes. When Victor was in his late teens, friends used to bring over their pet animals to him and he used to heal their dislocated joints. Throughout his many friendly services to his friends and other people, Victor was never known to charge a fee.
I remember one day when I was about 9 years old and had dislocated the index finger in a baseball game. Immediately my father grabbed onto a small blue bottle of Vicks and we headed towards Mr. Lara’s house. He received my father with his usual smile and a joke, which only they understood and laughed at. I was too frightened, but managed to check his humble house. It was built of pimento sticks (taciste), but with a zinc roof. It had a dirt floor, immaculately clean and a shelf on the wall with statues of saints. He was sitting in a hammock and got up to check my finger. I was shaking, but his kind and warm hands quickly eased my nervousness and my fear. Although he labored hard, Don Victor’s hands were soft, subtle, gentle and never aggressive. Then gradually he added pressure and more pressure as he rubbed and pulled. And suddenly, as if by magic, things got into place and the aches and pains were gone. Don Victor kept chatting with my dad as he rubbed, now gently, almost caressing. Before leaving Mr. Lara’s house, he had lit his kerosene lamp and my father asked him how much we owed him. Don Victor laughed and then smiled. “No es nada, Raf” (It’s nothing, Raf) “How can I charge such a good friend for such a simple thing?”
Mine was a simple dislocation, but there were people with serious falls and severe pains. Some could not walk, like the daughter of wealthy Belizean Alfonso Gutierrez, who had suffered a falling accident in a convent. The daughter, Maria Gutierrez, was taken to see specialists in Jamaica and Guatemala to help her walk again, but to no avail. Mr. Gutierrez heard about Victor’s fame in healing and he flew down to San Pedro in a seaplane and took Victor back with him to Belize City. After four days of therapy, Victor had Maria walking again to the joy of her loved ones. Others limped in pain or were bent over or had stiff necks. Whatever the ailment, as long as it was related with the bones, Don Victor cured them all. Even when Victor was banned by medical authorities to practice his healing, he used to secretly heal patients who begged for his magical touch.
Victor never read or saw science books or those with information about bones or medical practices, but he was extremely familiar with every bone in the human skeleton. A few years ago I went to a professional chiropractor and he talked more than he worked. He measured and touched every part except my arm, which was hurting. It cost me 65 dollars and there was no improvement of the arm after a week. I can truly say that Don Victor “beat” them all by far.
Don Victor sadly passed away some 30 years ago taking with him that God-given gift to heal by the use of hands. But it was his heart that was as big as his gift of healing. He was never too busy to say, “Come back tomorrow”. He was always willing, any time, any person, any place. He placed the suffering of others first- like a real doctor should. His sons and daughters and grandchildren have a genuine reason to be proud of him and miss him just like San Pedro misses him. This column, “Twenty Five Years Ago” salutes a humble yet special man, Doctor Victor Lara.