The Sharp Edge of Local Economy


Max got a haircut yesterday. Here in San Pedro almost every second house is a small store that sells bananas, cabbage, tortillas or something. It’s not unusual for a place to sell unrelated bits and pieces. For instance, the barber cut hair in a shop that sold new and used shoes and clothing and the entire store measured, in my generous estimation, approximately 8’ x12’.

The barber had a chair and a mirror but no scissors. He used clippers and an actual (new) razor blade that he carefully took out of a brown paper wrapper. He was quiet and did meticulous job.  While he worked, the enchanting young owner, a 21 year old from Dubai, eagerly chatted.

The youngest of a poor family with 5 brothers and 4 sisters, he moved to Belize City two years ago because of the bad economy in India. He bought some used clothing and peddled it door to door, and then he bought a bike. His name is Lucky (I wonder if it’s an anglicised version of his Indian name or whether he chose it when he moved here). Six months ago he opened his store here in San Pedro (Belize City was too dangerous) and slept and cooked in the large closet of his store until he met the barber.  Now the barber works there on commission, they share a house and with the barber’s wife and brother in law, divide the $800.00 ($400.00 U.S.) rent per month between them. Lucky said he is happy to have a kitchen because he cooks very good Indian food and would like to open a little restaurant when he can. He is trying to learn Spanish and cheerfully showed me a ragged little paperback where he was writing in the Spanish translation beside conversational sentences translating Hindi to English.

Dev Patel, (the actor that starred as the enthusiastic hotel host in The most Exotic Marigold Hotel and Lucky resemble each other in manner, attitude, and even looks. And if you’ve seen The most Exotic Marigold Hotel you may be smiling with delight. When the barber finished Max’s haircut, Lucky told him to stay in his chair and rushed to give him “an Indian head massage” which apparently is always given after a haircut in India. Max said it was “strangely relaxing”.

And I got bought a pair of flip flops from him that was exactly what I was looking for. Happy happy, Joy joy! The ones I got in San Ignacio (after breaking mine while climbing up the medicine trail on our river trip) gave me multiple blisters almost immediately so I have been traipsing around barefoot since then.


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