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December 2013 – Dick Pickup

//December 2013 – Dick Pickup

December 2013 – Dick Pickup

Dick PickupThis month our VIP is Dick Pickup.

Dick has been Treasurer for Amigos de Bucerias since 2006, the longest continuously serving officer, and we are very grateful to him! His birthday is 1st December – happy birthday Dick from us all !

Where did you live before Bucerias and what did you do there?

I lived in Niles, Illinois, where from the age of 21 until 54, I was a fire fighter for the village of Niles.  This occupied 6 square miles and when I started the population was 600 people and when I retired  it had increased to 36,000.

You didn’t come straight to Bucerias did you?

No, I went to Puerto Vallarta in the mid 80s with my then wife – we’d been looking at the snow and decided we should go somewhere warm.  We signed up with an international time share company and upon contacting them were offered a new place, Marina Del Oro, South of where the cruise ships dock, for $500 which was air fare and hotel included for 2 people for one week.  We arrived on the Friday night and on the Saturday morning were asked to attend a timeshare breakfast.  We agreed to do that on the Monday so that we could look around over the weekend.  We decided we would buy a week here – and in fact came every year until I finally moved down in 1997.  We’d also got another timeshare in Florida and when we divorced, 1993, she kept that one and I kept this one.  My contract didn’t actually expire until the end of 2012 so my wife Mary Carmen and I have been able to go on vacation there!

Tell us about your time as a fire fighter .

My first day was in 1964 and I was immediately sent out on a call.  We only averaged two calls a week!  We worked 24 hour shifts and off for 48 hours.  When I retired the station averaged 14 – 18 calls a day.  I was part of a group of 6 who went to Paramedic school in 1974 and at that time I also bought my own business.  My father , who had been the first paid fireman in Niles, starting in 1948, retired in 1968 – by which time I’d been a firefighter for 4 years and I promised myself to get one more promotion and one more pension check than him – and I did!   After becoming a qualified paramedic, I became an engineer and drove the truck.  And then I became a lieutenant in charge of the company of five men until I retired.  I was actually never involved in any major fires which always occurred on my time off.  One night there was a multi million dollar industrial fire and I went along to the fire house just in case.  In the morning they called me in – to help roll up the hoses.

Did you ever have any “cat stuck in a tree” call outs?

I have never seen a cat skeleton in  a tree!  What we did have was a call for 2 baby birds who had fallen out of their nest – and yes, we had to respond and go and put them back.  I then had to complete the paperwork, the release transportation report confirming we had attended and the rescued had been safely delivered…So I wrote about Henny Penny and Chicken Little and signed it Mother Hen.  Some years later all the paperwork was being transferred over to microfiche – and there it was! My report was still on file!

Did you enjoy being a paramedic?

Oh yes, saving lives – there were quite a few cardiac arrests.  And I delivered 3 babies!  And yes, there were some really bad fatalities.  The fire department is one of the few jobs when you begin planning  your retirement on the firrst day.

 What was your business?

I had a licensed electrical contract from my time in school in the Navy as an aircraft technician,  and I set up my own business – private security systems – from 1974 to 1997.  I promised myself I would have retired  by the age of  55, and I was.  I moved to Vallarta on my 55th birthday.

So you went from time share to property owner?

I had a time share in PV and on my first day of retirement I asked the manager to find me a realtor who would fix me up with a 2 bedroom condo overlooking something nice. I was on a 3 – 5 years plan for moving down here.  That was March 1997 and by August I said: time’s up!  I bought and lived in Marina Vallarta and the first 4 years were wonderful, but then it started going down.  My condo was above 6 restaurants on the malecon, with lots of plates being rattled until midnight.  Then the music at the El Faro started, and then at 4 in the morning Collage closed with all the people noisy and drunk going back to their hotels, and then at 6 in the morning the fishermen started their engines and shouting – and of course all the private parties going on.

Did you import much of your furniture – and was it worth it?

I imported almost all my USA furniture, except the kitchen appliances, because it was well made, sturdy and comfortable.  It would have cost me a lot more to buy all over again and I would not have had the same quality.  It started its journey from Chicago on 15 November, and it was promised before Christmas.   I got here 1st December.  The furniture finally arrived on 15 January – it had been delayed because along the route from Guadalajara  it had snowed for the first time in years and the truck had gone off the cliff.  But when it did get here – nothing was broken.

I was living in my condo with nothing – I’d had all the fixed concrete  furniture chiseled out and removed.   So there I was with absolutely nothing (not even a TV!) except what I came down with – 5 changes of clothes.

And during this time you met Mary Carmen?

Yes, through the realtor and introducing me to a retired secret service agent…When I moved here I had no intention of getting married again.  Seventeen days later I met Mary Carmen.

So back to the property hunt again!  What were your criteria – location, aspect, views…?

We were looking for a house that would fit our furniture and vehicles!   There was nothing on the ocean side of Bucerias that matched.  When we found this one Mary Carmen had a broken foot so she stayed in the car while I walked in and looked around.  I went back to her:  “the furniture will fit “!  The back yard complete with trees was extensive enough that we could clear it (had the trees re-planted)  and make a good sized garage for 2 vehicles and workshop and storage.  We made quite a few other modifications, including upstairs, and were very involved in all of the re-modelling.

We made an offer on Sunday, it was accepted on Monday and we owned it on Friday.

Your colonia is Las Brisas – when did you move in and anything unexpected to report?

We moved in  September 2004.  Every year there is the fiesta for the very small church of Sta Cecilia, 9 days and nights of fairground rides around the plaza, lots of litter and noise, and of course the early morning “canons”.  This is the travelling “circus” that then move on to the various other locations in Bucerias, culminating in the big downtown fiesta in January.

Have your family  and/or friends visited you here?  What did they think of your relocation?

My parents weren’t too sure about my move to begin with so I had them come down in the first year when they stayed for a week and they could see for themselves.  They realized I had made a good decision.   After my Dad passed away my Mom came on her own and stayed with us, but now she’s 93 and it is really too hard for her to travel. She lives in Florida.  I have 2 daughters – both have been here a few times, and I now have a total of 5 grandkids – we have invited the eldest to visit us.

My friends  initially thought it was weird  but quite a few of them have come here – maybe about a dozen over the period of time – some by cruise ships, some by hotel packages.  They can understand why I moved here…. In response to an email from someone in Chicago: “We just had 18” of snow”, I replied: “ I’m just sweeping the sand off my balcony.”  A lot of them appreciate this lifestyle and think they could do it.  But a lot of the wives will not leave the grandchildren.

How did you become Amigos’ Treasurer?

Pablo Thomas lives across the street from me and got me to attend a meeting.  I had been Treasurer at my Marina condo so he persuaded me to run for Treasurer for Amigos, that was 2006.

As I was warmly welcomed by your dog, Didi, to get in – what other pets do you have?

Mary Carmen’s daughter has 2 rescue cats- found in a box in the park one day, they were very scared.  We’d said yes to one but  she thought it would be lonely.   They are the most “scaredy cats” you have ever met… that’s if they’re even brave enough to come out of their hidey holes.  Over the years we have had a variety of birds – I brought 2 cockatiels with me originally – they have an average life of 15 years, and then we have had rescue birds – and they are all very vocal as you know!  We inherited a dog with the house – it was meant to have been looked after by the neighbours but.. so we rescued him, he was an older dog.  Then Didi just turned up on our doorstep one day.

What are your personal interests or hobbies?

Everyone knows I like my TV !  But I also like to check upon the local weather with my marine radar; I have a room dedicated to my model train set; I am the Monday driver for the Amigos recycling team; and I cook and bake – if I want “sweet” then I have to make it!

How good is your Spanish?

Terrible!  But I understand a lot more than I can speak.   I can order what I need to from the store etc.

You’ve been back to USA  on visits  – thoughts?

It reinforced my decision to be here.

Thank you Dick, we hope you enjoy your birthday dinner, complete with gooey cake  !

By | 2013-12-01T18:38:35-06:00 December 1st, 2013|VIP Interview|2 Comments

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  1. John and Phyllis Martin December 17, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Is there a restaurant or cafe where Ex Pat Gringos hang out, we will be down for Christmas and New Years weeks and would like to meet some of the locals.

    • admin December 18, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Hi! The majority of bars and restaurants all become different groups’ favourite places. YoYoMo’s is a good point for all sports fans, that is in El Centro of Bucerias, or there’s another one very close to the Decameron Hotel. Luna Lounge for pre show drinks and chats. Ixta Restaurant for a quieter venue and lounging in armchairs. You’ll find plenty of ex pats wherever you go!

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