Bob shared himself widely, with community, with family, old friends and new, strangers, and even strange people (an inside joke for you, Bob, on the remote chance that you are listening to me). Although Bob belonged to everyone, if you were lucky, Bob would give you a little piece of himself, an exclusive gift that was totally yours.
Bob was one of the early encouragers when I began my online bulletin board: La Peñita Folk (later, Jaltemba Bay Folk). Bob’s gift to me was his posts to my board, and sharing of his tales of adventure, exploring in Mexico. There is no doubt that Bob’s sharing had much to do with the early popularity of my board.
When Bob and his partner Vicky took to the back country in his Magic Jeep, along with their trusty thermos of coffee, they always loaded up with the donated clothing, food packages, and medicines for encounters with people in need. It would be hard to overstate the extent to which Bob influenced our community. The largest and most successful of today’s community service organizations, Los Amigos de Jaltemba, can trace its grass roots back to a fund raising party we once had to help support Bob and Vicky’s efforts in the wake of Hurricane Kenna.
Today, there are other groups continuing Bob’s good works here in Jaltemba Bay.
Planning for the future and knowing his time here was limited, Bob built a solid, two story structure on a piece of Vicky’s property. It has two income producing apartments upstairs. The ground level has a small office and a large storage area. It is known as the McKibben Foundation (McKibben was Bob’s mother’s name). Sometimes the bodega is packed full of donated clothing, food staples, school supplies, and medicines; sometimes it is bare. Vicky, now retired from her nursing career, quietly carries on a devotion to the work that she and Bob so loved.
Among about a zillion other things, Bob was a champion horseshoe player. What began as a yearly party with his family and friends has grown into a yearly, weekend party and fundraiser. Since his passing, it is known as the Bob Howell Memorial Horseshoe Tournament. Many people from far and wide, plan their winter vacations to be here for this event. Along with the support of many of Bob’s old friends, his sons Jimmy and David have carried the torch and have been able to pass on hundreds of thousands of pesos to local children for education, recreation, and good health.
When I met Bob, right off the bat, it was fun to know we shared a mutual enjoyment of going off exploring in our Jeeps. Bob was more gregarious than I am. Along with Vicky, he always packed in as many people as the Magic Jeep could fit. Selfishly, I almost always go off solo. But Bob showed me that later, when I return, I can still share the adventure through photos and writing about the adventure.
Bob believed in sharing, and I do too. Anyone liking these stories can make a donation to THEIR cause (see below).
…with the utmost respect, admiration, and love; Happy Trails, Bob.
by Tom Plattenberger
Tom Plattenberger’s personal dedication serves as an introduction to a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. The series, entitled “Back Roads of Nayarit,” details Bob’s day trips and adventures between 2001-2007. We are sharing these stories in an effort to preserve Bob’s memory – and to help Bob’s partner and traveling companion, Vicky Flores Ramirez, who still lives in La Peñita and quietly carries on the work that she and Bob so loved. If you enjoy reading these articles, please consider making a donation so the McKibben Foundation (Nurse Vicky’s Dispensary) can continue helping schools, seniors and needy families in the Jaltemba Bay area. And if you have copies of any of Bob’s old stories or photos, please contact us.
This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. To learn more about the author/photographer, click on the “Contributors” tab near the top of the page. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Allyson@JaltembaBayLife.com