I have met many different and interesting people over the past months as I wrote this column, but I don't think I have ever met someone who had Indonesia and Sweden stamped on their passport. Kimberley Flor Keehn is that person. And, she is an East-coast norte americano like myself; which makes her that much more interesting.
This past Sunday, in case you missed it, offered us in Sayulita a taste of tradition and the past. In this day of electronics, I found it a very pleasant diversion to watch Las Perlas and other equestrian teams parade through town in formal dress, on their way to a very entertaining competition at the arena at the edge of town. On this day the team from Sayulita were good enough to win the competition, and this morning I had the honor of sitting with their leader and trainer, Janet Quijano.
One of my favorite spots, and the focus of this issue's entry, is a restaurant that opened this season, "YAH-YAH". When I came here in October, Yah-Yah Cafe was in the ﬁnal stages of preparing to open. Run by two amazing people, the restaurant is slowly but surely becoming one of the ﬁxtures on the plaza here in Sayulita.
If you've seen me walking through our lovely Sayulita of late, talking to myself, it's because I was interviewing this week's candidate-me. Sorry, but enough of you have asked for this, that the rest of you will have to suffer through my story. I will try to make it as interesting as possible.
A long time ago, in a far off land called New York, Timothy Kelley was born in a stable in December. Well, not exactly. I was born in a hospital on December 8th, and we lived over a horse stable because my father trained race horses. I grew up in New York, going to a wonderful (and I mean this) church school where I learned via the "ruler smack technique" to write cursive with my right hand, even though I was naturally left- handed. Religion and I had a "love/hate relationship" from a very early age.
I can't think of anyone in Sayulita who better typiﬁes the "in-your-face" mindset than Tracie Willis. You may know her as the owner of Choco Banana, or you may know her as the woman who single-handedly took on the wedding planners of Sayulita in an effort to get them to switch from polluting pyrotechnics to the much quieter ﬂoating wedding lanterns. Two years ago, you would have known Tracie for her dauntless efforts to get a recycling program implemented here in Sayulita. And, you would deﬁnitely know her for her tireless efforts in getting large trash bins built and situated around our pueblo. Often using her own money, she is not bashful about asking for help with any project she ﬁnds herself involved with. Nor should she be. Tracie could be called the "conscience of Sayulita", whether you agree with her or not.
Who woulda' thunked that the woman sitting in Spanish class all those weeks ago would one day be my interview? Well, I've learned that living in Sayulita you learn to expect everything, and be surprised by nothing:-) So, as we sat outside her shop, Quiverito, Marilee Woolace and I couldn't have been more "chido"; even with Semana Santa going on all around us. Marilee is what we "more mature" persons call a Military Brat.
Good morning from Sayulita one more time. Today, I want to share with you the story of a friend I met a few years back when I ﬁrst visited Sayulita with my "Mexican Brother", Efrin Garcia. This is a story of a young man with very large dreams, and very little to start with other than a very big heart. Sergio Enrique Gonzales was born 27years ago, and has lived almost all of those years here in Sayulita.
If you walk by the ofﬁce of Ally Cat Sailing Adventures and see an angelic face at the desk, you have met Nora. Even if you don't like boats or the ocean, you will be tempted to stop in just to talk with this enchanting woman. And, if she smiles at you, you are "hooked". I ﬁrst met Nora onboard the Ally Cat on a day cruise to the Marietta Islands as she led the courteous crew in their duties while her husband, Noah (next week's interview), was at the helm of this magniﬁcent catamaran. When I ﬁrst asked Nora to tell me about herself, she asked me whether I wanted the "long" or "short" version. Here is what we settled on, although I am sure we could have talked for many more minutes.
With each interview I do, I am more and more amazed by the wonderful blend of persons that make up this magical pueblo, Sayulita. This week's interview is of a family who have decided that Sayulita is the perfect place to start their business, dream their dreams, and raise a family.
If you happen to be walking down Calle Gaviotas at night, next to El Mezcalito, you will most likely hear a warm welcome from Arturo Bermudez, inviting you in for a "shot" of his traditional mezcal and tequila drinks.
Arturo was born in Tepic, and has spent a lot of his childhood there with his family. Family memories for Arturo are both important and pleasant. Tepic was not his only place of residence as a child. Arturo also spent some time in Guadalajara, the capitol of Jalisco, and in Uruapan, in the Western part of Michoacan. It seems that no matter where he was living, he was able to hold onto fond memories of his childhood. One of his favorites are the summer vacations that the family used to take to the beaches of Nayarit.
I met Hortencia quite by accident at the gym one morning when I first came to Sayulita, but have since come to know and love her for her strength, beauty, purpose, and dedication to her family. "Tencha" was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and spent virtually all of her childhood there. Some of her favorite memories are of the sports club where she played soccer and tennis. Always athletic, she still plays soccer, surfs when she has time, and runs on the beach. If you're out early enough, you may see Tencha running with her chihuahua, Clarita.
Author Note: There is a saying that I have heard repeated quite a few times over the past 25 years that goes: "There are no coincidences in Life". This saying is as true today, as it was the ﬁrst time I heard it and smiled at its implications. Now, let me tell you that my very ﬁrst job for pay found me "walking hots" at the Meadowbrook Polo Club. And, no, that is not "code-speak" for pimping. At 12 years of age, I was walking polo ponies as they came off the ﬁeld of play to help them calm down from what is very strenuous exercise for them. These horses race up and down the ﬁeld with riders on their backs, chasing after an elusive white ball; which their riders try to slam between two posts at each end of the ﬁeld using wooden mallets on ﬂexible shafts. Sounds a little like the Quiddatch matches in the Harry Potter series. I would work from 2 until 6 with the horses, and got paid a whopping $2 a day. But, why in the world am I telling you about my childhood work career, when this column is about interesting people of Sayulita? Because, this week's column is about Gabe Fernandez, of Paciﬁc Coast Golf Cars, and because he plays polo!
One thing that stands out about Oswaldo Vallejo is his passion for Mexico and for Sayulita in particular. My ﬁrst contact with Oswaldo was through an interview he gave to this newsletter years ago, when I wasn't even sure when I was coming down to retire in our pueblo. There never was any doubt that I would retire in this "quiet little ﬁshing village"; it was only a matter of when. At that time, Oswaldo was working with the Delegado's Ofﬁce and directing the affairs of the Casa de la Cultura. Things have changed since that article was written a few years ago.
You know him as the voice of Rollie's Restaurant, the man who warms your heart with his smile and genuine "welcome to Rollie's". He is an educator by trade, actor by passion, restauranteur, husband, father, and grandfather. And, he is one of a very few people who has no known enemies, and scores of friends.
"I read your Spanish edition of the Sayulero, and I feel the translation is important because it's a publication written in Mexico about a Mexican town. I think it would be a big mistake and offensive for many people that live in this town and aren't fully bilingual to not have the translation."
"Yo leo el Sayulero, en su edición en Español y siento que es importante porque al ser una publicación que se edita en Mexico y sobre un pueblo mexicano. Pienso que seria un gran error, e incluso, una ofensa para muchas personas que viven en este pueblo de Sayulita, y que no dominan."
Dear Reader: This is what, I hope, will be a series of articles on some of the wonderfully different people who help to make our beautiful pueblo the multi-cultural oasis that it is. Here, you will ﬁnd the stories of those people, and their reasons for choosing to put down roots in Sayulita. Some of them you will know well. Some of them you will know less well. And some of them you will not know at all. But, the next time you bump into one of them, reach out your hand and tell them you enjoyed getting to know them thru the interview. Just think of how many friendships you could start that way! Enjoy.