Ken and Bea’s love affair with Mexico started in 1992 when they won an all-Inclusive vacation at the Holiday Inn in Puerto Vallarta. It was their first visit to Mexico. They liked the people, enjoyed the weather and went home thoroughly hooked.
For the next few years their job and family commitments kept them from travelling, and their only daughter was in university and then got married in 1996. Ken and Bea both retired in 1997. But after retiring, Ken did consulting for National Research Council and Bea took a course in travel consulting. The next few years they visited 17 countries (including an African safari) and 14 Caribbean islands.
They returned to Puerto Vallarta in 1998, and being explorers at heart, one day they got on a local bus which took them to Bucerias and Punta de Mita. Bea says that back then there was only a small fishing village at Punta de Mita. However, the countryside was drop-dead gorgeous as were the beaches, and the people living in the area were incredibly friendly. It was then that they decided to plan a longer-term stay.
In 2003, they both retired (again), and moved from Ottawa, Ontario to Cobourg and built their retirement home on two acres overlooking Lake Ontario.
In 2004, they began an online search for a place which would offer an authentic Mexican experience. At that time there was not that much information available online, but they came across an advertisement on “Jaltemba Bay Folk” and “Jamie’s Board” for a bungalow available for rent in Guayabitos. The proprietor was the late Bob Howell who owned a home in the Residential Zone on the north end of Guayabitos. They rented the bungalow above Bob’s bodega. Bob was ably supported by his partner Vicky Flores (of Vicky-the-nurse-and-registered-tour-guide fame). At that time neither Ken nor Bea spoke any Spanish. The first thing Bea learned to say is, “How much is that per kilo?” Today, Ken loves to start up a conversation with any old guy with time on his hands and who looks patient. Bea knows all the important shopping phrases. Ken and Bea say the area just grew on them. Their first love was La Peñita because it was truly Mexican, and they take great pleasure in mixing with the locals who have always been welcoming.
After that first 10 week visit, they began a series of “2-3 week stays” at the Hotel Decameron Los Cocos in Rincón de Guayabitos which served as a great base from which to explore the area. The hotel provides guests with bicycles of which they took full advantage to explore every nook and cranny of the Jaltemba Bay area. To this day, they maintain friendships with many of the managers and staff of Los Cocos. Since that time Ken and Bea have enjoyed staying and vacationing in Jaltemba Bay every single year. Well almost. They missed 2009, most reluctantly, because of a family vacation in Curaçao.
Angels visit Jaltemba Bay
Over the years they have been involved in charity work with Nurse Vicky. They have brought school supplies, sports equipment, medical supplies, clothing and toys to distribute where she recognized the greatest need. Whenever they were in the area for Christmas, they enjoyed helping out with the annual Christmas parties hosted in a designated village. Vicky chose the village and would talk to the village chief to determine the needs and number of children and families. The parties were usually held in the schoolyard. The volunteers provided barbequed hamburgers cooked on Rocky’s industrial-sized barbeque, chips, soft drinks and Dawn Blevins’ famous potato salad – a novelty thoroughly enjoyed by all the families in attendance. Clothing was distributed, a care package from Vicky’s Dispensary was given to each family and “Santa Dan Milski” handed out gifts to all the children. They participated in the annual Christmas parties at El Divisidero, Puerto de la Lima, and most recently, Las Lomas.
Ken and Bea have accompanied Vicky on other goodwill missions to El Tonino, El Divisidero, Mesillas, Noriega, San Isidro, Las Piedras, Las Varas and other villages. One of their most memorable journeys was in the back of Brian and Dawn Blevins’ pickup truck to El Cora where Bea provided jackets and warm sweaters for the residents to stand them in good stead for their cool mountainous climate. A special treat was a visit to the waterfall and a swim in the clear waters below.
They enjoy the senior center (El Club de la Tercer Edad) in La Peñita. George Aceves does stellar work coordinating events and activities there. Bea says that it is not uncommon to see over 100 enthusiastic seniors in attendance. The local seniors enjoy participating in dancing, games, singing, feasting on good food and socializing. They are always well represented at local parades. Last year Bea attended an evening with the Mexican ladies as they celebrated International Women’s Day, and she said it was a good chance to practice her Spanish!
In the spring of this year, they volunteered time to help out with a community project initiated by George and Donna Steensma called “Project Angelina,” which involved building a brand new wheelchair-friendly house for a lovely young woman, Angelina, and her family to live in. Angelina has muscular dystrophy, and previously she and her family lived in a one room house with a dirt floor and no running water. Ken and Bea also made a donation through a church organization in Belleville, Ontario called CRUSH in order buy a refrigerator for this family.
You can read the 6 article series about Project Angelina here.
Energy to Spare
When Ken and Bea aren’t volunteering, they are probably bird watching or tramping the surrounding countryside, especially the plantations. They usually explore on foot, bicycle or via colectivo. They are avid bird watchers and nature lovers, and on every trip they take thousands of photos. Their photos are beautiful, and luckily for us, they enjoy sharing them with the community. Their bird photos are simply delightful!
View more of Ken & Bea’s bird photos and story about “Great Egrets, Boat-billed Herons and Citreoline Trogons” featured in our newsletter on August 21, 2012.
They love to get out and about, and have enjoyed visiting Tepic and the Jamurca hot springs near Las Varas with friends. Most recently they were able to visit the Monarch Butterfly wintering grounds at Chincua staying in the mountain town of Tlalpujahua. A visit to Santa Del Oro remains to be checked off their bucket list. They’ve been invited to visit ranchos by owners who see them on the road, and have written about these on Bea’s personal Blog and local forums.
View Ken & Bea’s Mexican Cowboy photos and story featured in our newsletter on October 2, 2012.
Ken and Bea enjoy dining at small, local restaurants that are owned by Mexicans that serve traditional Mexican cuisine. They delight in buying fish and shrimp on the beach every Saturday morning. Both love homemade ice cream from Pedro and his family’s “Helados Elim” on the Avenida in la Peñita. Bea’s favorite flavor is coconut, but Ken is a chocolate chip or coffee kind of guy.
Bea enjoys cooking, and says “I think I am mastering the art of Mexican cuisine.” One dish she chooses not to tackle is Chiles Rellenos, so that is what she often orders when she dines out. Their favorite restaurants include Restaurant Pineda on the far south end of Guayabitos beach for the seafood, fajitas at Karla’s palapa beachfront restaurant in Guayabitos, Anahis Taqueria on the Avenida Sol Nuevo in Guayabitos, Irma’s in La Peñita, and of course, grabbing a bite at one of the local taco stands.
New and Lasting Friendships
Over the years, Ken and Bea have developed several local friendships, and they say that returning to Jaltemba Bay each year is almost like a “homecoming.” They adore mixing with local people, and have made many wonderful friends. They especially cherish the friendships that they have developed with the locals and NOTB visitors at the church in La Peñita. Bea says “the Mexican sun is eclipsed only by the warmth of the Mexican people.” So far they enjoyed staying in Guayabitos and in several different areas of La Peñita, and have found that each barrio has its own unique character. Perhaps next year they will choose to stay in Los Ayala!
About Ken and Bea
Originally from Winnipeg, they lived in Ottawa from 1980 to 2003, where Ken worked in the research division of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Bea worked as a medical technologist for 25 years before becoming a travel agent, a career she enjoyed for 7 years – especially the travel perks.
They now reside in Cobourg, Ontario a small town on Lake Ontario an hour east of Toronto, but they live in the Jaltemba Bay area, typically visiting in November and December, going home for Christmas, and returning for another visit in February or March. Twice a year, most years! A favorite time to visit is Easter, during Semana Santa. Unlike many folks, they find it invigorating!
They love to be in Jaltemba Bay area where they gear down, adjust their lifestyle and “chill.” Bea says life in Mexico is “a slow dance with its own sense of style and pace and they have learned to get in step, relax and go with the flow.” They live in the moment and enjoy the good life.
When Bea is in Ontario she stays busy by volunteering at Horizons of Friendship in Cobourg which, through monies from the Thrift Shop, supports Mexican and Central American initiatives. She also writes a nature column for Cobourg’s local newspaper.
Ken and Bea have been happily married for 42 years. If you’ve met them you would know it is a match made in heaven. They say that retirement is wonderful, but they still don’t have enough time to do everything they want to do! Well, I for one think they are doing a pretty good job of it at the moment.
Saludos Ken and Bea!
To read about other interesting folks, click on the “Meet Local Folks” link under categories.
About the Author: Christina Stobbs is a writer and photographer who lived in Los Ayala year round with her husband Robert. As a photographer, she feels fortunate to have lived in an area so rich in flora and fauna, and abundant in natural beauty. She enjoys landscape and wildlife photography, and has a fondness for pelicans. Most recently, she starting selling her photos with stock companies Dreamstime and Big Stock Photos. As a writer, she states that living in Mexico is perfect because each and every day is full of surprises.
This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Allyson@JaltembaBayLife.com