Are you local to this area?
Yes, I was born in Jalisco and then went to live in San Juan de Abajo.
Your English is very good!
Thank you, I learnt it when I was 15 and moved to family in Houston and then to other family in Chicago. I was married there to my wife, Sylvia, and my three children were born there.
What did you do while you were in America?
I trained as a chemist, but having completed my training decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. Instead I became a professional locksmith – quite a difference!
Why did you return to Bucerias?
Because this is my home. My biggest regret is that I didn’t come back here earlier.
You own Vista Panoramica Bungalows on Carmen Sedan. Were you involved in its construction?
Yes I was, right from the very beginning. There were only half the number of houses on that street.
And you also own the Cactus Inn on the highway?
Yes. Again I bought the land and was involved in the construction, we did this a little every year as money permitted, over about 15 years! We now have 45 rooms.
Tell me a little about your family.
My wife Sylvia has been a nurse for some 17 years, and she is also a Doctor of Psychology. My children all went to school here. My eldest daughter Jessica, 24, is an architect – she’s currently designing cabins in Alaska! Then Jackeline, 20, is studying biotechnology and has been awarded a scholarship from the Canadian Government for next summer. My son Noel, 19, is training to become a lawyer.
Your children’s achievements are very impressive! You must be very proud of them.
Yes I am, of course. I feel it is part of the changing Mexico. Before, girls were told to marry someone with a career. Now, the girl can make the career for herself. And of course now there are also private schools offering good education.
Obviously you are very busy with your businesses – in the little spare time you have, what do you like to do?
I like to be a locksmith as a hobby. And I have a piece of land I like to visit – I grow all sorts of fruit trees there. I pump my own water and use gravity for an irrigation system.
What do you think about the growth happening in our area?
Well, expansion is good because we are in a tourist area. We need to update all the time because what is good today might be obsolete in a couple of years from now – like a computer system! Also people getting into business need to realize that the competition could eat them up, for example, the older cinemas in PV have been replaced by Cinepolis, Cinemex, & Cinemark.
What improvements would you like to see in Bucerias?
I think we need more teaching outside of the state schools – we need classes in English and in computers. We need to keep the streets and the beaches clean – for our community and also for attracting the tourists, which will help with our economy. I don’t agree with hand outs. I like the philosophy behind the phrase –“ if you give a man a fish he has food for one day, but if you teach him to fish he has food for a lifetime”.
We see a lot of the streets on the ocean side of the highway, specifically Colonia Dorada, have been or are being re-cobbled, and I know you are highyl involved in this.
Yes, this was my idea, but I have to thank Harold Sokolove for his support and for promoting it. The plan is to get home owners to pay for however many bags of cement they wish (the price varies but it is approximately 110 pesos) and the municipality will provide the stones, the sand, and the labour. But only so long as the cement supplies are there. When that runs out, the work force will be diverted elsewhere, and we do not know when they will ever come back to continue this project.
We started with the roads that go downhill to the ocean, being important access for residents and tourists alike, and these were also the ones in the worst condition. Although we asked everyone who has a frontage to contribute, unfortunately not all of them have done, and our funds are really low, so we are now repairing only the centres of the streets.
And then at different times of the year, mainly the winter season, street clean ups are organised under the leadership of Frank Meyer.
Some people ask: why are you doing all of this, why not the municipality?
Well, there are two answers: One is that the muncipality just don’t have the money or resources – we don’t have high taxes here to cover all of this!
And the other answer is: we do it to make Bucerias look good, not just for the benefit of the tourism trade and for our residents, but also out of pride in our town.
Thank you Mario Topete!