Our Community - Gary and Esneda Warner
"Swinging and Swaying in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 25            July 22, 2004

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Gary and Esneda Warner

The cool breeze and tropical climate of Ambergris Caye attracts thousands of visitors to its sandy shores every year. It is also for these reasons that people from all over the world choose to make San Pedro Town their home, truly creating a "melting pot" of diverse cultures. Two of these people who add to the enchantment of "La Isla Bonita" are Gary and Esneda Warner of Hammocks and More Gift Shop.

    Gary was born on November 12th, 1957 to Ida and Joseph Warner in the beautiful country of Canada. Since his father was in the Royal Air Force, Gary and his older brother and sister grew up moving all over the country.

    At the age of 10, the Warner family settled down in Ottawa, Ontario. Gary graduated from Hill Crest High School in 1976 and then enrolled in a two-year program at Algonquin College.

    After receiving a degree in Electronics, Gary went to work for himself, creating custom-made sound equipment for several companies. After two years, he was hired by Capello Audio Systems to install emergency intercom systems for different businesses.

    A year later, Gary went to work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. For the next 11 years, he traveled all over Canada building and upgrading radio and television studio facilities.

    In 1991, Gary accepted a position at Jo-Ad Industries to start up a customer service department in the electronics division. There, he maintained the equipment for the power systems, as well as their environmental control, maintaining the right temperature for the equipment to function properly.

    After working three years at Jo-Ad Industries, Gary and a partner formed Capital Audio Technical Services (CATS). For two years, he installed equipment for a variety of recording studios.

    In 1995, Gary returned to Jo-Ad Industries, which had been sold and re-named Liebert Corporation. In June of the following year, he realized that he was in need of a vacation, so he and his brother decided to visit Cartagena, Colombia, where he met his future wife, Esneda Sanchez Roja.

    Esneda was born on August 17th, 1962 in Cali Valle, Colombia to Diocelina Roa and Jose Sanchez. She grew up among eight sisters and three brothers and from a very young age created dolls, pictures and collages.

    For both her primary and secondary education, Esneda attended La Rep¨blica de Mexico. After graduating, she completed a number of creative art courses, such as floral arrangement, ceramics and decorating, as is customary in Colombia.

    By the age of 18, Esneda was creating several pieces of art to sell in her parents' shop. Wanting to do something different with her life, she attended nursing school for two semesters. However, Esneda soon realized that healthcare was not a career she wanted to pursue.

    In 1982, Esneda opened a small craft store with her sister where they sold their own creations, plus a line of wholesale clothing. She handled the daily operations of the business for four years and then turned to teaching young boys and girls all the crafts she had learned.

    In 1996, she and a girlfriend decided to take a vacation and traveled to Cartagena, Colombia where she met Gary Warner. The couple spent the entire week together but because he did not speak Spanish and she did not speak English, he purchased a Spanish-English dictionary and slowly the pair began communicating.

    Gary returned to Ottawa but remained in contact with Esneda. Later that year, he requested a leave from his job to visit her in Colombia. After six weeks, he returned to Canada only to "sell, give away or throw away" everything he owned before moving permanently to Colombia in February of 1997. "I loved the simplicity of life and the lives that the people led there. I honestly do not think they have the word 'complain' in their vocabulary," he said.

    Leaving Cali Valle, Gary and Esneda moved to Old Cartagena, and opened a small craft shop where they sold leather goods, perfume and clothing. On September 26th, 1997, Esneda and Gary united their lives in Holy Matrimony pledging their eternal love to each other. Although, neither of the couples' family members could attend, Esneda proudly walked down the aisle with two roses Gary's mother requested to represent both mothers' presence at the wedding.

    In 1998, the happy couple returned to Cali Valle and opened a variety shop, where Esneda sold her arts and crafts. She also maintained a small studio and art school in the back of the shop. On the other side of the building, Gary established a small grocery store where he sold sugar, flour, beans and other staple items.

    Aware that the economy in Colombia was failing, Gary thought that maybe it was time for them to move to another country. At a friend's suggestion, in 2000, the pair traveled to Belize and settled in Benque Viejo del Carmen in the Cayo District. Working for Deacon Cal at BRC Printing, Gary and Esneda traveled to all the rural areas of the country servicing electronic duplicating machines (copiers). In his spare time, Gary played darts on the Benque Viejo Dart Team.

    Chasing Gary's dream to live in the Caribbean, Gary and Esneda visited Caye Caulker Village. Although, life was nice there, they were soon convinced by friends (that Gary had met through the dart team), to try life in San Pedro. During a visit in February 2001, Gary learned that Windy Hills Resort was in the process of opening an office on the island. After being accepted for the job, the couple moved to the sunny shores of "La Isla Bonita."

    To make extra money on the side, Gary and Esneda began to sell hammocks and other knick-knacks they purchased from Central and South America. In September of 2003, they opened Hammocks and More, moving their business to a home they constructed on Coconut Drive. At the gift shop, Gary and Esneda handle the day-to-day operations of the business and, most recently, opened a Hammocks and More sales location in downtown San Pedro. Unfortunately, the raw materials Esneda needs to create her beautiful craft projects are not available in Belize, so she keeps busy as a wedding florist for Victoria House Resort. Esneda has also decorated for several Quince Años (15th birthday) parties and other special events on the island.

    In their free time, Gary and Esneda enjoy taking walks on the beach and spending quiet afternoons at home. Gary is also a member of the San Pedro Dart Team.

    Gary and Esneda have found their piece of paradise in San Pedro Town. "We have loved Belize since we first set foot in the country. Belizeans are simply a warm-hearted, generous, happy group of people. We are very pleased to have stumbled upon this slice of heaven," he said. After falling in love with the beautiful shores and people of Ambergris Caye, Gary and Esneda Warner now live the island life, swinging and swaying in the calm breezes found in "Our Community."

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