We want to thank Jane Miller (Fellows), KinderAide founder, for bringing this book to our attention and for sharing her personal relationship with Manual and his family.
This book touches my heart. It is said that “once the dust of Mexico settles in your heart, you can never go home again.” This is so true. I am honoured to say that Manuel and Elena Rodriguez and family are my dear friends. I gladly inherited them from the close relationship that my father and Manuel shared for over 20 years. When I return annually to La Peñita, Manuel strongly tells me, “When you are in Mexico, you are my family.”
After reading the book, “Manuel of the Americas,” I have a better understanding of what that means to my friend. At a young age, he took responsibility for his new bride and baby and his brothers and sisters. Then when he went to the States seeking employment, the young Elena took on the responsibility and trusted that her “noble” groom would come home to her, which he did.
Words to describe Manuel include: honourable, a man of integrity, honest, hard working, passionate, family oriented, loving, responsible, respected and respectful, nonjudgmental, charming, punctual and dependable.
Just this summer, I had the pleasure of visiting my friend (Manuel and Elena’s oldest child) Cecy in Westbank, BC and meeting her husband Frank and the first grandchild Joaquim! That is when I learned that Manuel and Elena were coming to visit them in a few weeks. My husband Doug and I then, hopped in the car for a 10 hour trip to surprise them! That is when Manuel gave me this book.
I am blessed to have the Rodriguez family in my life and in my heart.
– Jane Miller (Fellows)
Elena and Manual (left). Jane, Cecy and Joaquim (right). Photos taken at a BBQ hosted by Karen and Dale Nagy, La Peñita snowbirders, at their home in Vernon, BC.
Our hosts Karen and Dale Nagy, Cecy’s husband Frank and Jane’s husband Doug.
We also want to thank the author, David Roybal, for taking the time to correspond with us. He writes…
I don’t know if Manuel Rodríguez of La Peñita de Jaltemba, Nayarit, knew how many friends and admirers he has. So many people have contacted me in just the past few months since the publication of his true, powerful story to assert their friendship with this middle-age man who has faced enough hardships and challenges to fit into multiple lifetimes.
The story is carried in a new book titled, “MANUEL Of The Americas, Historia de Fuertes Amores”. I wrote Manuel’s story after visiting with him over the years too many times to count, all along the beautiful Bahía de Jaltemba.
My inescapable conclusion: México should be proud of Manuel Rodríguez. Indeed, the courage, determination, loyalty, love and respect that define his life can make us all in the Americas feel good about those among us who refuse to succumb to difficult circumstances.
It is the simple truth to describe Manuel as a man who stood strong and brave during prolonged periods when all but the will to survive was stripped away.
The story becomes even more compelling when you realize that many in his extended family have followed his lead to become their own fonts of strength and compassion. For example, Manuel is the central figure in the book. But it is easy to feel at least as much respect and compassion for his faithful, loving wife, Elena.
The text of the book was written in English then carefully, sensitively translated to Spanish. Both English and Spanish texts appear in the book along with photographs and illustrations.
“This book should be shared with bilingual education classes and social science classes everywhere,” remarked a former bilingual education coordinator/administrator with the Boston and Washington, D.C., public schools.
“It reminded me of Oscar Lewis and ‘The Children of Sanchez’,” said one reader.
Readers already are positioned from Mexico City to Manitoba; California to New York. It truly would be gratifying for this to become a book of the Americas.
– David Roybal, Cundiyo, New Mexico USA
Here is a short excerpt from the book…
A Canadian named Jane Fellows also seems to be on constant alert for projects that Manuel can pursue. Jane is the daughter of a man named Bill, who hired Manuel to build his house in Colonia Los Pescadores near La Peñita. Through the course of construction, Bill became like an older brother to Manuel. Around 80 years old, Bill soon carried the name of “Marce” around Manuel. “The Anglos called him Bill, I called him Marcelo or “Marce.” I was working on condominiums near La Peñita when “Marce” found me,” said Manuel.
Manuel and “Marce” grew to enjoy each other’s company. They would share stories not only while Manuel labored but after work, too. “We became very close,” Manuel said. “He would tell me a lot of confidences, things that people don’t normally talk about. I always felt like he was more than just my patrón. It almost felt like we were from the same family.”
Manuel y Elena Rodriguez (all photos by Jane Fellows)
To learn more about the book, you can watch this video of author David Roybal describing his relationship with Manuel and his family.
If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Allyson@JaltembaBayLife.com