This month our VIP is Bill Grant
I lived in Washington State: in Renton where I served on the City Council for 9 years. I was City Council President for several years. We had the first senior citizens program in Washington State that gave Seniors a discount on their “Utilities” and we set aside 40 acres of wetlands for wildlife. We had a great police and fire department. I retired as a High School teacher of History and Literature – I have a B.A. from the University of Washington in History and a Masters from Gonzaga University in Pastoral Ministry.
Why did you come to Bucerias?
My brother and his wife had been coming to Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias. They showed me photos and I checked the internet, and was shown around by a realtor when I came down in June 1999.
Did you think about other areas of Mexico before choosing Bucerias?
I at property from Guayabitos to Nueva Vallarta. Property was really cheap then. But I bought my new home here in Bucerias. I returned to Bellevue, WA, sold my house, and moved here in September 1999.
How did you come here?
I drove down several times, the last time with a big wooden trailer full of possessions. The axle broke at least a couple of times! I had my big Dalmatian Roo with me and in Oregon there was a big thunder and lightning storm. I thought he would be safer behind me in the SUV – he stayed right behind my neck! I brought all sorts of stuff including an oak cabinet my nephew Pat Blanchard had built, a wonderful carved wooden bed that had come to me all the way from England, and all sorts of sentimental value items.
Did you have problems bringing it in?
Oh yes! The last time they wanted my PC – they said I could not bring it as I had already brought in all my household items the first time, (they had a computer record from my first trip) and they wanted to keep the computer. So I said if that’s the case I’m going back to my motel in Nogales and I will give it to an employee there, which I did. They let me through with the keyboard and I had to pay $500 for the other items.
My first car which I brought down here was a Jimmy SUV, and the 2nd year I was here it was stolen from right in front of my house. I went to the appropriate department with a translator and the first thing the official asked me was had I been drinking? I said no, and he replied that a lot of people come here and claim their vehicles have been stolen in order to collect the insurance. Very little was done about my stolen car and I never did find it. On top of that the border authorities did not recognize the stolen car report, and would not let me bring in a replacement car as I had not given up my sticker on the way out of Mexico, and the information was still in their computer! I got my brother who lives in Green Valley, Arizona, to come down to the border and get the sticker in his name.
Are you full or part time?
I’m here 9 months of the year, I spend the rest of the time back in Seattle with family and friends.
You bought your house, in Colonia Dorada, – have you had any construction work done to it?
Yes, I’ve extended the ground floor bedroom to include a computer room, and took out a wall upstairs to make a larger living room. I’ve added a swimming pool and fountain and landscaped the garden – you see St Francis Assisi out there and everywhere in the house as he is my Patron Saint. I’ve also just had a new gate and front door lobby area built.
Do you still have family back there, and have they visited you here?
I have family and they have all visited here – one son, his wife and 2 grandsons have been down on a package deal; my other son and his wife have been here a lot. They all love it here.
Were they supportive or opposed to your relocation?
They were all very supportive of my move. My house in Bellevue was breaking me – I’d retired from teaching with only a part time retirement pay; I’d been working at a local racetrack and I was making more money there than as a teacher, but then it closed! I’m going to be here as long as health allows. I know the medical facilities here are very good, but it’s costly if there is a major problem. I have Social Security, AARP and Medicare coverage when I return to the States.
Any other unusual experiences regarding your move here?
Well … years ago I saw a watercolour painting that had just been thrown out on a pile of rubbish in the street, there had been water damage to it but it’s not too bad, and I asked the gardener if I could have it and he said sure … it’s an Evelyn Boren Painting! And then there was the time when a couple of neighbors who had a dispute, and a few too many drinks – out came the guns and they were shooting at each other from their 2nd floors … forget bandidos – these were “gringos” !
I know that when you first got here you became involved in the formation of Amigos de Bucerias (as we know it now) and became the first President. During your year in office your various committees made contact with the various Municipal Departments. The main concerns were: interrupted water flows; sewage; street rubbish and garbage cans. All of this will be covered in an upcoming article on those early days. What are your personal interests or hobbies now?
I go to the gym, at least twice a week. I am very active in the Main church in the Plaza: “Our Lady Queen of Peace,” where I organize the readers, it’s a bi-lingual 9:00 am Sunday Mass during the tourist season. But as they don’t have any English speaking priests I am allowed to read the Gospel and wear an alb (a white garment). Sometimes I give a short reflection on the readings.
About a year ago some friends and relatives ended up sponsoring and “adopting” a poor family. The father of the family was doing construction work on my street and would sit outside my house in the shade having his lunch and we got to talking. I asked to see where he lived. He’s in a small house he made of wood planks on the very last street up near the Arroyo. There are gaps between the wood for ventilation, and in the summer tropical downpours he throws a tarp over the roof. He’s made a concrete floor, with a cistern. The first thing we did was to rescue a porcelain toilet from an abandoned house – they flush it by pouring a bucket of water in the toilet. This goes into a big hole. They share the water and electricity supplies with a neighbor. They do not have a stove – the wife is afraid of them because of the natural gas, so they use a raised campfire.
The family – they have 8 children, some are now adults and live nearby – all came here 8 years ago from the State of Guerrero where they farmed. He and his wife cannot read or write. But their 17 year old son who lives with them gets straight ‘A’s at school, and we sponsor the 12 year old daughter who attends the Salzman Colegio and is learning English. Our Catholic Church has contributed money and one of the daughters and U.S and Canadian women have made the family heavy duty fleece blankets for the winter.
How good is your Spanish?
My Spanglish is pretty good ! As I get older my retention is worse. But I can communicate well enough and with my adopted family we understand each other really well.
Looking back, anything you wished you had known about or anything you would have changed?
No, I would not change anything, even the frustrations! It’s all part of the pattern of living in Mexico.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
I love the spirit of giving that this Community has. Most people who come here are very giving and do so not for their ego, but in love of their neighbors.
Thank you Bill Grant !