In fond memory – Habib “Paisano” Hajara

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 2            January 12, 2006

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This photo taken in 2004 showed that Paisano could still be a dapper dude!

Paisano with a friend in the early days.

Paisano with his young family.

Paisano with his second wife and their adopted child, Habib, at his birthday party.

Paisano's three children, Niamath, Abudnasser and Yasmin.

Although at times he seemed a bundle of trouble, “Paisano”, Habib Hajara, will always be remembered as an icon of Ambergris Caye. Tourists and locals alike where very fond of him and would often lend a helping hand to the man who always had an anecdote to tell. However, little is known of the life of this jovial man, but what is known is that he did live a very full life and to some extent was quite an entrepreneur on the island.

   Paisano was 73-years-old when he passed away on December 30th, due to a heart attack. He was found on the street leading up to his house. He was born in Palestine (exact location – unknown) and from stories Paisano told his children, he ran away from his homeland because of problems in the country. From various accounts, it is estimated that Paisano first arrived in the Belize when he was in his mid-30’s.

   Teresa Lopez Tzul, who shared several years with Paisano, first met him when she was 17-years-old in Stann Creek. The couple fell in love and she helped Paisano with his clothing business. Teresa and her new mate traveled around the country and got to know all the districts of Belize. “I remember that he would go house to house selling clothes and I would go with him. He loved to cook for me, he would grill meats and absolutely loved the black Spanish olives. Paisano was a fantastic cook,” Teresa commented.

   The couple’s travels eventually led them to San Pedro Town where Paisano and Teresa decided to make their life together. The couple had three children, Yasmin, Niamath and Abdunasser. While living in San Pedro, Teresa discovered that the residents rarely, if ever, ventured off the island. Teresa found this offered a lucrative opportunity, so she traveled to Belize to buy clothes and brought them back to the island to sell. After some time personal problems forced Teresa to leave Paisano and return to Guatemala for a couple of years, but in the short amount of time she was there, she realized that she could no longer live in her home country. Teresa returned to Ambergris Caye and met Jesus Tzul, the man with whom she would make her life anew.

   Paisano, on the other hand, met his second wife. The couple adopted a child who took his name, Habib Hajara. The couple stayed together for a few years when again personal problems caused him to lose his family.

   In an interview with his children, The Sun found out that Paisano truly adored children. “The one thing that he hated was to see children walking around the island and not going to school. He honestly believed that all children should receive an education,” commented Yasmin, his daughter. Teresa remembers fondly that Paisano loved to sing, “He would still come visit me at times and you would hear him from the corner, coming. He was singing his favorite song, always the same one, except that I would not understand it. It was in Arab, so I could not tell what he was singing about.” She continues, “He loved cooking and had a passion for fishing which he would do on most days from the docks around the island. He was a very jealous man, and had his temper, but at the same time he was very reserved. We did not know that he was sick. When he would visit his children, even on the last days, he never gave that indication.”

   The family of the late Habib “Paisano” Hajara would like to extend their most heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped them in their time of need, especially Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., Kelly McDermott, Eduardo Aguilar, Zobie Ayuso, Jan Brown, Iraida Gonzalez, Ramon Nuñez, Tropic Air and everybody who helped in any way in their time of bereavement.

   Paisano will be greatly missed; he leaves behind four children, and several relatives and friends. The San Pedro Sun and the community take the time to extend our deepest sympathies to the family. May his soul rest in peace!
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