Our Community - Sofia Paiz - "Making friends selling fruits and fine food"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 27            July 17, 2003

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Sofia Paiz

Belize has been called a "melting pot" as a result of the variety of nationalities and cultures that reside within its borders. The island of Ambergris Caye is a shining example of this diversity as people from all over the world reside here. This week, The San Pedro Sun is pleased to introduce you to a woman who, like so many others, traveled to Belize for a better way of life - Ms. Sofía Paiz.

Sofía Paiz was born on September 18th, 1947, in Cuidad Arce, La Libertad, El Salvador, the daughter of Consepsión Quintania and Natividad Rodriguez. Raised on a small farm with her one brother and two sisters, Sofía grew up helping her mother sell vegetables and fruits at the market. From the time she was eight years old, she realized how much she enjoyed this business which provided endless opportunities to meet and socialize with different types of people. After finishing her education, Sofía supported her own family selling fruits and vegetables, successfully raising a son, Esaú Adonay Rodriguez (now 25 years old) and a daughter, Alma Avidal Rodriguez (now 29 years old).

Longing for a better way of life, Sofía learned of business opportunities being offered in Belize. She vowed to visit this neighboring country and on October 4th, 1988, Sofia arrived in Corozal Town.

Only a month later, she moved to the island of Ambergris Caye. At that time, there were just a few shops located in the tiny fishing village and grocery stores, such as Nancy's, were not yet established. Grasping the opportunity to fulfill a need, on January 6th, 1989, Sofia and her partner opened their own business, selling fruits and vegetables to residents and restaurant owners in San Pedro.

Sofia started out selling produce under an umbrella on the streetside, but the demand for her product forced her to expand the business. She eventually relocated to a building situated on the front street, and appropriately named her shop "El Parawe," which is Spanish for umbrella. Several years later, in 1994, after witnessing the success of her enterprise, Sofia decided to branch out again and established a small restaurant in the back of her shop.

Today, besides selling a variety of fruits and vegetables, Sofia now serves up delectable local food dishes such as homemade beef and chicken soups, and rice and beans to residents and visitors on the island. Almost always working, Sofia can be found at El Parawe every day from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Barrier Reef Drive, across the street from the San Pedro Town Hall. She claims she is now satisfied, stating "this is enough," for she enjoys cooking and likes to watch television while patiently waiting for her customers to arrive.

Sofía is grateful for the life of harmony she has found in San Pedro. She stated, "I thank the people who have supported me all these years, by purchasing my products. I also thank the people who surround me, for they have never harmed me, nor have I done anything to harm them." Accustomed to island life, Sofia intends to continue with her business, and commented, "It's what I do best."

Making many new friends over the years, Sofía Paiz has made her dream come true - to live a better life in Belize. Like countless others before her, she is the part of the melting pot of entrepreneurs who struggle to succeed and find their "market" in "Our Community".

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