Our Community - Evrett Robert Palacio - "He sells seaweed by the sea shore"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 25            July 4, 2002

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Evrett Robert Palacio

San Pedro is often described as a place where service is the number one priority of the diverse businesses found here. Indeed, the word diverse is the perfect way to describe the numerous and unique establishments located in this island paradise. This week The San Pedro Sun is pleased to feature a hardworking and charismatic individual who has managed to establish his own special way to make a living - Evrett Robert Palacio.

    Born the only male child to Sally and Robert Palacio in Dangriga Town on June 23rd, 1968, Evrett Robert grew up traveling between Dangriga and Belize City. He graduated from Sacred Heart School in the Stann Creek District but also attended James Garbutt and Bettal Primary Schools in Belize City where his father resided.

    At the age of fourteen, Robert entered into the work force reaping oranges in one of many orchards found in Salada Village, Stann Creek. After four months he moved to Belize City where he enrolled in an architecture course at Belize Technical College. He was then employed as a baker's assistant in a Belize City bakery for six months. Robert's next ten years were spent working as a mason in the construction business. It was during this period that he first visited Ambergris Caye in 1984, when he traveled to San Pedro as part of the construction crew hired to build The Belizean Hotel (now the Essene Way). The following eleven months spent in San Pedro were enough to convince him that this was the place he wanted to reside permanently.

    Robert met and married Lavern Arana of Belize City on July 3rd, 1994. They are now the proud parents of eight children and recently adopted two more. Their ten children range in age from eight months to 14 years old. When asked why he decided to adopt two more children after having an already large family he told The San Pedro Sun, "Where eight children eat, ten can eat as well."

    In 1996, Robert decided to move his family to San Pedro with the hopes of a better job and a better life. He immediately went to work in the construction business while his wife made tasty meat patties and Johnny Cakes to sell. At first he did not have any trouble getting work, but as more and more people arrived in San Pedro looking for jobs he found himself looking for other means of survival. One afternoon in 1997 he found himself at home with nothing to do and decided to make some seaweed juice, a typical Belizean drink similar to eggnog. From a small portion of seaweed he had purchased from Belize City, he made some seaweed juice but did not know what to do with what was left over since he did not have a refrigerator to preserve it. This is when the idea came to him that he could sell this nutritious Belizean libation and how his business was born. He procured more seaweed, spiced it up with milk, cinnamon and his very own secret ingredients and set off for Central Park to sell his product. He clearly remembers making 15 cups that day and selling every one, in no time at all. His first customer was a taxi driver who, after tasting the wonderful juice, suggested Robert make it more often. The young "entrepreneur" proceeded to increase his amount of production and also bottled it for better presentation.

    Two years later Robert was able to afford a vending cart which he used to distribute his seaweed juice around town. Unfortunately, just days after purchasing this mode of transportation it was stolen from him. Undaunted by this minor setback he continued working until he could afford another one. Today, Robert Palacio has tripled the amount of seaweed juice he sells and is now on his third tricycle cart.

    Mr. Robert Palacio is also a dedicated minister and preaches at the San Pedro Baptist Church. He spends his spare time performing various duties at the church and providing marital counseling to anyone who is interested. He is presently trying to put together a program he has named "Operation Kindness". The main objective of the program, Mr. Palacio said is to help the needy people of San Pedro in every way possible. Another of his goals is to open a "mercy kitchen" on the island. "To accomplish both programs, we need the support of the community," stated Mr. Palacio. Robert is also presently the chairman of the San Pedro Garifuna Council.

    Mr. Evrett Robert Palacio is indeed a wonderful example of the many kind and generous people who have made this island their home. An independent businessman, through his charm and vision he has added his own unique "flavor" to the development of "Our Community".

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