He has lived a century; it is quite a feat for Edujives Velasquez, one of the oldest persons in Belize who lives in Esperanza in the west. In his lifetime he has withstood the test of time; the constant has been his wife of eighty-one years. News Five’s Andrea Polanco found Velasquez alert and active.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
Edujives Velasquez is perhaps the most active Centenarian in Belize. This hundred year old man was born in August Pine Ridge and during his one hundreds year of life he has travelled across the country. On Saturday we sat at his home in Esperanza Village where he reminisced about the ‘good old days’. His memory still clicking with accurate information:
Edujives Velasquez, Centenarian
“After 1931 after hurricane, good while I went to the company, Belize Estate to work up north. What is the price they pay for the month? Eight dollars that is two dollars a week. Good heavenly father you listen to what I tell you is the truth, not lie. The owner of over there, Duck Run, Awe, I does used to work for him fuh fifty cents a day and I done got my wife. Would you think I could maintain my wife fifty cents a day? Things cheap, things cheap but wages cheap too. Yes, yes, yes! I does use to go out plenty. I does have good friends and I does use to go dah dance and dance. I does used to go with she goh dance too. I does used to come outta my home and when we go out I dress up Saturday and I go to Cayo and left my wife. Yuh nuh talk to me business, I fall in love with gial and woman. Sometimes I drift away. I go out Saturday, Sunday I nuh come till Monday morning.”
Velasquez, is a hundred years old today and to commemorate his ripe old age, friends and family gathered on Saturday to celebrate his life. For Velasquez he is only happy and humbled to reach this milestone, he gives the credit to God:
“I very glad that the good lord give me sufficient years to stand and meet everything, hard time, good time, everything. Well the first thing, you have to take care ah yuh self, everyday you have to care of yuh self. The good Lord said take care of yuh self and you leave the balance to me. You have to put him in front all the time; you have to put him in front.”
And sitting beside Edujives, is his ninety-eight year old wife Rebecca. They have been together for eighty one years. Rebecca says that helping each other keeps them together:
Rebecca Velasquez, Wife of Centenarian
“I work with him, any little thing that he is doing I help him. I never, never say I am not going to help him do nothing. I always work hands in hands with him until we finish what we are doing. So I don’t have any complaints about him. He never did treat me rough, he always treat me nice.”
“I struggle for life until I come here and I make a settlement of my own and my family tek care of mi until when I could a mi help myself ah little.”
But Velasquez maintains an active life. Climbing stairs and walking the village are things he does with ease. He is responsible for this well-kept lawn. He also does small scale farming all on his own. He says that at a hundred years old he is simply working, which keeps him going:
“People say ‘work hate me’ but I nuh hate work. That’s my ambition; my ambition is to move on. When you sit down and when you think fuh get up, perhaps maybe it too late all yuh bones and all yuh body get cramp up. I exercise.”
“Ih all time get up and chop in the morning, in the afternoon ih always tek the lawnmower and lawnmower the yard. Ih plant ih little bits ah fruits and thing, yes.”
“So he keeps very busy?”
“He keeps very busy, he nuh rest at all. Sometimes ih deh downstairs yah and ih di do something, ih nuh wah left it. I call ah fi come eat ih food ih nuh come in time, sometimes till two o’clock ih get upstairs to eat his food.”
“And he has always been like this?”
“Always been like this. And every morning five o’clock he’s up.”
“I neva got no education fuh sit down easy as how with wah pencil and wah piece ah paper pahn wah desk. My work was hard; I have to work with hoe, machete, axe, pick and all those things.”
Edujives and Rebecca will continue. This centenarian also maintains the lawns for neighbors and small odd jobs for villagers of Esperanza. His grandchildren say he is a great story-teller, of which we have no doubt.
Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.
Edujives and Rebecca had a family of six children. Two have died, but they remain surrounded by an extended family of grand children, great grand children and great, great grand children.