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Talk about a barrel of a woman that some say has a heart of gold while others might argue she is the queen mother of a scorpion. Well her name is Flordesita but everyone calls her quite simply Flo. Day in day out seven days a week she runs a small non distinct ‘cool spot’ along the side of the road around milepost seven on the Southern Highway in the village of Jacintoville just north of the Toledo District seaside town of Punta Gorda.

I first met Flo about three years ago as of this writing when I rolled my bicycle in off the road one blazingly hot tropical sun day. I had been working a piece of property I owned in the shadows of a handful of locals and was on my way back to PG where I had rented an apartment for my family of three for a month to determine just whether or not Belize was our cup of tea.

At the door to the refuge in the shade I was longing for that January day I was met by a big smile from Flo, a woman in her mid thirties that is of East Indian descent as are the majority of the villagers in this particular village. Jacintoville is a great place to live if you are a local, it’s a challenge of a place if you have arrived from afar.

Flo’s mother had owned land on both sides of the road long before the government of Belize ever contemplated paving the dirt. In the early days Flo’s mother made her money that she in turn provided well for the family off the soldiers that occupied Belize when it was still a western Caribbean colony of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and referred to as British Honduras. Back then the family worked together under the watchful eye of the matriarch that most considered a very good business woman.

Now at just past the dawning of the 21st century in a country that only won it’s independence from England a little over twenty years ago Miss Flo was at odds with her brother that also ran a small ‘cool spot’ directly opposite her location on the highway. Back then the brother’s place consisted of a thatched roof champa with a way serious lean to the logs, a pool table with several balls missing and a Belikin beer cooler that was unplugged half the time to save on the bill for current.

As for Flo’s place, well she had a real cool place complete with concrete flooring and uncoloured siding with a metal zinc roof. The toilet when I first arrived was a door less outhouse without the capacity to flush. By the time I celebrated my fiftieth birthday there, the bathroom had moved indoors, though still within seeing distance of the old place that many a local still used until Flo decided she had had enough and had her son Baron tear it down, less feeling in the hole in the ground. Many a times we would sit there together Flo and I as she allowed me to buy round after round after round for she and I as we watched with a discerning eye as the Maya would fall prey to a little cash and too many cervezas as they made their way back to their village from market day in town.

About the time Flo and I had a slight falling out she decided to boost her business she would buy a karaoke machine. In her mind as well as that of a another son she had that lived up in Dangriga they decided that the cure to their economical problems was that which just about every independent bar owner in Belize would agree, a karaoke machine.

So together Flo and Lawrence decided to compliment the large cooking grill that laid idle out back next to the defunct outhouse they would buy a portable and user friendly karaoke machine. Flo’s philosophy was clear, she could barbeque chicken parts or pig loins on occasion as her son matched song lyrics for a price to drunken patrons that found comfort and solace in a place where one could get blistered and still lean up against a bar.

And different from her brother’s place, well Flo always had cold beer for sale. Many a trucker and local business man would stop in for the shade and the comfort of conversation as they made their way up and down the paved tarmac of the Southern Highway, plying their way for trade from PG to Independence to Dangriga to Belmopan and to points unknown.


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