Amigos members agreed during their May 5 meeting that the Executive Committee chose an interesting person in the community, a VIP, to recognize and feature on this site. This month, the committee recognizes Karen Knapp, known for her generous community spirit as long time Secretary of Amigos de Bucerias and Moderator for the Bucerias Community Yahoo Board–not to mention her scrumptious baked goods, and vivid artist creations. Last week, we asked her…
Where did you live before Bucerias?
Before we moved to Mexico in 2006, I had lived in Portland, Oregon for about 30 years.
What did you do there?
Before I retired, I was the Vice-Provost for Rural Health at Oregon Health and Science University, which has medical, dental and nursing schools, as well as a number of allied health training programs. I was in charge of the University’s outreach programs for rural areas and also directed the State Office of Rural Health, a state agency that was located at the University. That involved a lot of advocacy for rural health issues on the state and federal levels, which means that I was also a (bad word) lobbyist.
Did you think about other areas of Mexico before choosing Bucerias?
Oh yes – we originally planned to move to the Lake Chapala area, and made several trips to Ajijic. We finally decided there were too many old gringos there already, and it was too cold in the winter. We moved to Vallarta instead, but it was too crowded and busy for us. At the suggestion of a friend in Portland, we made a trip to Bucerias. While sitting at The Coffee Cup on Lazaro Cardenas, we found a copy of Amigos y Vecinos, and discovered that there were many people here in Bucerias with whom we had much in common. We decided that day that Bucerias would be our home.
How did you come here? (fly/drive/boat/walk)
We sold our property and our cars and either sold or gave away most of our possessions. Then, we flew here.
Are you full or part time?
This is our full time and only home.
Do you rent or own your condo/house?
We own a home on the mountain side of the highway, in a Mexican neighborhood.
Any involvement in it’s construction?
We bought a house that was already built, but that needed a lot of renovation. We had workers here full time for about three months. It’s still a work in progress.
In which colonia do you live?
Do you have a partner/family/pets here?
I share my privileged life with my remarkable husband Jerry, two spoiled dogs and eight grateful cats.
Do you still have family back there?
I have a son, a daughter and a sister – all in the Pacific Northwest. Plus three grandchildren, lots of nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and grand-nephews. Plus Jerry’s brother and family in Idaho.
Were they supportive or opposed to your relocation?
My son and daughter both love Mexico and were fully supportive of our move here. My sister, who is less adventurous than I, was initially incredulous at the suggestion of my moving to Mexico, but has come to accept it reluctantly.
Have they visited you here?
Son and daughter, yes – many times. And Jerry’s brother came to visit earlier this year. Despite our being very close, my sister has not visited – she and her husband are among those who believe that Mexico is too dangerous. But she does have plans to visit this coming winter. I think.
Any particularly good, bad, or funny experiences regarding your move here?
Yes. All of the above.
What are your personal interests or hobbies?
When I retired, my intention was to finally have time to paint, and living in Mexico has given me the inspiration to move in a new direction with my painting, using lots of warm and bold color. I also enjoy a special kind of pen and ink drawing called pointillism, and as most of our friends know, I love to cook, especially baking.
How good is your Spanish?
Not as good as it should be. I keep taking classes and I am disappointingly slow to learn.
Looking back, anything you wished you had known about or anything you would have changed?
We have never looked back, and have no regrets about our decision to make Mexico our home. Of course, there are always things we could have done differently, if we’d had more information. There are things we brought that we’ve never needed, and things we left behind that we have pined for, like that wonderful Waterford enameled Dutch oven that I reluctantly sent to the Salvation Army. Or the $29.95 Costco microwave that I gave away and then spent $129 to replace when I got here. But nothing major – even when we’ve made bad decisions, we’ve learned from them.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Mexico is a complex, complicated and challenging place. The more I learn, the more I realize that I have to learn. I started out with assumptions that have proven to be faulty, and I’ve discovered enchantments that I never envisioned. As long as I live here, I will never, ever be bored.
Also, I did not anticipate the variety of interesting fellow expats we would meet here…I think we first assumed that everyone who moves to Mexico does so for the same reasons we did, but everyone has their own stories, and they are all worth listening to. I have come to understand that we are all a bit non-conformist/eccentric, or we would have retired in more conventional places like Arizona and Florida. I wish I were a better writer – I’d love to write a book about this place! We have made some genuinely wonderful friends here, for which we are very grateful, and the expat community, despite our many differences, comes together in a truly generous and amazing fashion when someone needs help.
Thank you Karen Knapp!