|Hipoliti "Polo" Ruiz
Hipolito or "Polo" as he is known, was born in the western town of San Ignacio to Theodora and Fulgencio Ruiz. He grew up in the picturesque Cayo District (Augustine Pine Ridge and San Ignacio) among four sisters and four brothers.
When Polo turned eighteen, he moved to Belize City to experience "life in the fast lane". After spending only a few months in the city though, Polo was hired by Lamonte Enterprises as an assistant cook and moved to Glover's Reef Atoll. A fast-learner, he soon mastered the art of food preparation and was promoted to cook. While at Glover's Reef, Polo recalls becoming friends with many fishermen who would stop by during their fishing expeditions. He learned all about San Pedro from these men and also from the tourists who spoke highly of this island paradise. After three years at Glover's Reef, curiosity got the best of Polo so he decided to check out "La Isla Bonita," and found exactly what he was looking for.
Polo always had a passion for crafts and San Pedro offered all the inspiration he needed to live his dream of becoming an artisan. Since Black Coral was abundant in the azure waters off Ambergris Caye, Polo was even more inclined to try his skills with this precious resource. After acquiring some necessary tools and supplies from Trish Carter, he began creating beautiful Black Coral jewelry. Tourists were enchanted with Polo's quality work and this encouraged him to open a small gift shop on Barrier Reef Drive, which he named The Cottage Gift Shop. There, he displayed his original Black Coral pieces, shell jewelry, as well as T-shirts and other local art. "Business was good then and there was very little competition," Mr. Ruiz told The San Pedro Sun. For fifteen years he remained in the same location before relocating to a larger space opposite his previous shop. In time, Mr. Ruiz also managed to open a second shop named Jewel of the Sea, on the far north end of Barrier Reef Drive.
Polo then invested in two pieces of property; one that now houses his home, one of his shops and apartments, and the other where he built an apartment complex. In 1997, Hipolito Ruiz made another big investment; this time in a golf cart rental and repair business. "At that time, there was a demand for golf carts so I decided to give this business a try. Thankfully, this was a good move," stated Mr. Ruiz.
Polo married Rosa Lopez Ruiz and together they are the proud parents of three beautiful children: Jeanine (10), Rocio (8) and Joel (7). Apart from his love for family and dedication to business, Polo is also a sports fanatic. Once the owner of the San Pedro Football Club, he continues to support the local football team today. When Polo decides to put business aside for a while he rents a vehicle in Belize City and drives his family to visit his hometown - San Ignacio. Mr. Ruiz concluded, "I am happy with the life I have made in San Pedro. Although this island has developed a lot it still remains a tranquil and wonderful place to raise children."
It has been twenty-seven years since Hipolito Ruiz moved to San Pedro. He thanks his "lucky stars" for guiding him on this journey and in return gives back to the community in many ways. Throughout the development of the island, Polo Ruiz has "rolled with the changes." An adaptable man, he has worked hard providing gifts, transportation and additional accommodations for the people in "Our Community."