Our Community - Luisa & Chalo Valdez - "Supplying 'sweet' smiles in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 46            December 14, 2000

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Chalo and Luisa Valdez

Giving of yourself and demanding nothing in return is one of the true meanings of the word friendship. While true friendship among your peers is common, having friendships with people of all ages is admirable. This is the case of this week's couple who have become true friends to many in this community, especially the children - Mrs. Luisa and Mr. Gonzalo (Chalo) Valdez. 

    Luisa and Chalo grew up in the village of San Pedro and developed an interest in each other. The dating period, they recall, was a strict one since in those days young women would be accompanied by their parents to the few town functions. Nevertheless, with serenades and by proving his love for Luisa, Chalo convinced her parents to accept him as her future husband. Luisa and Chalo recall the five years of their romantic courtship as the best moments of their lives; they were finally joined in marriage on April 18th, 1970. Their marriage produced two children, Conchita Flota and Gonzalo Jr. Since they were blessed with only two children, in a time when married couples thought that having a large family was better, they shared their parental love with the children of San Pedro as well as their own.

    For many years, Luisa dedicated herself to the domestic chores while Chalo earned a living in the fishing industry. Although she was a dedicated mother and wife, Luisa felt she wanted to do something more with her spare time. In 1982, the couple opened a small grocery store on the corner of Tarpon Street and Barrier Reef Drive which they called Conchita's Little Store. Although this store offered an assortment of groceries, it was the kids they catered to. Having young children of their own, Luisa and Chalo knew exactly what younger people liked. They started selling raspados (snow cones), golden plums, oranges, chips and candies to the children of San Pedro Roman Catholic School which was adjacent to their store. Although Chalo still went on his fishing trips he would be happy to help in the store upon his return. Unfortunately, increasing competition took its toll and after only two years in business the Valdez's closed their little shop. However, they missed being with the children, so Luisa and Chalo decided to set up a table just outside the school yard where they continued to supply the children with their goodies. They did not think of this as a business but as a hobby. On countless occasions when the children did not have enough money to buy their treats both Luisa and Chalo would still provide them.

    Sadly, during this time Chalo fell ill and had to be taken for emergency surgery. Due to the long recuperation period and under doctor's advice, Chalo could not return to fishing for a living. In order to help with the household expenses, Lulu, as many of Luisa's friends call her, started offering room and board to out-district people working in San Pedro. Their children also chipped in to assist them. Although they went through rough times, Lulu and Chalo always welcomed a friend for lunch or dinner. Their generosity over the years has been beyond compare.

    Tragically, on December 17th of last year, a fire destroyed their home and all their belongings, leaving them homeless. This was when their years of generosity were rewarded. The community quickly came to their aid and soon after, a new home had been built for Lulu, Chalo and their family. Even though they were now struggling to get back on their own feet, they still never failed to donate to town activities.

    Even during their times of trial and suffering, Lulu and Chalo have proven that caring for and loving one another will take you far. They continue to share their love with friends and to put happy faces on many children. They are fine examples of the "strong family values" in "Our Community."

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