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Paisano Leaves San Pedro

San Pedro mourns the loss of Paisano, Smiro Habib Hajara. He was found dead on a pier where he often spent the night on Saturday, December 31, 2005. His real name very few people ever knew or will remember. But Paisano will always be remembered as a most intriguing character.

If the American Ambassador visited San Pedro, Paisano was sure to take a picture with him. If George Price made an official visit, Paisano was sure to hug him as he landed from his boat and proudly pointed out that the Prime Minister of Belize knew him by name.

Nobody could possibly hate Paisano, even though at times he got into some people’s nerves because they could not understand him nor deal with him.

Paisano was a people person and loved to interact with people. Once he got your attention and you gave him some recognition, he was happy and made sure you were happy too.

If there was a dance going on, he would come in and dance to entertain others. If it was a wedding, he would enter uninvited and he expected to be welcomed because he was everybody’s friend. Countless tourists had an encounter with Paisano, and they would ask for him on their return visit. Even though he might have looked a bit shabby, he was a good P.R person for San Pedro and the tourism industry. Therefore for tourists and locals, San Pedro will not be the same again without our good-natured Paisano.

Paisano FamilyThose who did not know him ought to know that Paisano was one of the first few foreigners to live on the island. He opened one of San Pedro’s first gift shops in the early 1970’s. Paisano sold for many years, products from Guatemala, local crafts, conch, bottles, shark jaws and teeth, in fact, any item he could tell a story about and called it a souvenir.

He was a prosperous, law-abiding, friendly entrepreneur, always ready to make a Kairocontribution to schools and charitable organizations. But Paisano became sick. He picked up a sickness that affects young and old, rich and poor, intelligent and ignorant. He lost his zest for living and lived a solitary man.

Therefore all of us who loved Paisano and respected him as he was can learn from him and draw a lesson from his life. Let us all remember Paisano and pray for him. Let us all see his life as one of sacrifice, which he gave us so that we might learn. As he was laid to rest by San Pedro, we can sense that he did what he had to do and San Pedro will never be the same without him, so his memory will live with us for a long time. May he rest in peace.

Photo Caption:
1. Paisano clowns around at San Pedro Distributors.
2. Paisano (left) celebrates his son’s birthday with wife Margarita (far right) and friends Yoli & Oscar Aguilar [1970’s].
3. Paisano greets boy group Kairo (Costa Maya 1999)

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