Through Our Covid-19 Window

Many of you have been reaching out to make sure we are okay down here and to ask how things look in our neighborhood.   While Mexico is a couple of weeks behind Canada and the US, we are facing the same situation, the same questions, the same directives and the same fears as you are dealing with north of the border.

As of today, there are 94 cases and 3 deaths in Jalisco, which is our next-door neighbor.  In our state of Nayarit, there are 8 cases reported and 1 death.  But we are being told that Apr 2-19 is when our trajectory will rise.  We have been given the same STAY AT HOME orders as you have.  Schools have been closed for 2 weeks, public gatherings have been shut down and hospitals are ramping up in preparation.  There are, however, some dynamics that are unique to our location, our culture and the economic situation that look different.  For instance:

  • Tourism: We live in a tourist area and the majority of local people work in that industry.  I read that 70,000 hotel workers in this bay were laid off this week.  Restaurants are closed, empty beaches have no customers for the wandering vendors and people who spend the winter and spring months entertaining snowbirds are juggling on empty street corners. The busiest week of the year, Semana Santa, has been canceled.  People here are panicking, and many small businesses have simply refused to close.  Social media posts begging people to stay home are bombarded with the same angry comments, “If I don’t work, my family doesn’t eat.”
  • Social Assistance: While the government has started talking about helping, there is simply no infrastructure or systems in place to do so.  If you are a family of 10 living in a tiny one room shack made of tarps, who even knows you exist?  Who is coming to give you help?
  • Economic reality: Many people here live day to day.  When I say paycheque to paycheque, I am not talking about enough for a month.  Many workers here are paid weekly, some even daily.  And that daily wage might only be minimum wage, which is just over $100 pesos – that’s $5 US dollars a day.  They work to get enough to live for a few days.  In my community, many don’t have stocked pantries, full freezers or emergency funds.  Many don’t even own a fridge.  To be told to stay home for a month, or even a week, is not possible.  To be out of work for months, is devastating.  The threat of contracting an unseen virus seems much less scary than the threat of watching your children starve.  People here are scared, and it is not of Covid-19.
  • Fiesta Culture: I am quite sure Mexican people have built in genes that compel them to sing and dance and hug and laugh and PARTY all the time.  They are not created for quarantine.  At all.  Last night I took Nacho for a walk, and just a few doors down from my house, a neighbor was holding a party for a 3-year-old.  At least 60 people crammed in an empty lot and spilling onto the street in front.  Music blaring.  Young families with their children.  Crowded around tables piled with food. As if they didn’t even know we are fighting to wipe out a deadly virus. A party for a 3-year-old who probably couldn’t care less.  This is going to be hard for my fun-loving Mexican friends.

So we are fine down here, relaxing in our garden and walking alone on the beach.  This morning we took our breakfast to the beach and watched a whale just off the shore.  It is very strange, however,  to see so few white faces around.  It has been another sharp reminder that this is indeed our home now.  As so many friends scrambled to find flights north, we settled into our own cocoon of safety.

But we are concerned for our neighbors and have begun to look for ways to help.  Our golf cart rental business is shut down, but we have used our carts to pick up leftover food items from tourists heading home.  Our carts spent a few hours Sunday evening driving our local church leaders around town delivering 100 meals to people in the community who are already facing shortages of food.

Bloom Church from Regina sent us a donation and we used it to put together 25 bags of staples to deliver to people we know are already starting to suffer.

 

I know you are struggling, and your city has needs too.  But if you want to share with what we are doing here, this is what $20 Canadian ($15 US) will purchase:

  • Macaroni – 220 g
  • Rice – 900 g
  • Pinto beans – 900 g
  • Black beans – 900 g
  • Milk – 2 L
  • Tuna – 295 g
  • Chicken stock – 490 g
  • Tomato Sauce – 1 L
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • 1 whole chicken

This will feed a family for a few days, maybe a week.  If you send us that amount, we will purchase and deliver the bag of groceries to a family that is hungry.  You will be a part of what we are trying to be down here – a refuge of hope in a place of brokenness.

So stay safe friends and family – we’re only a video chat away always!  We will all get through this and just maybe, the world will emerge as a kinder place, where we truly cared for ‘the least of these’.

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The Saddest Goodbye

This is the saddest blog story to date, but I have promised to be real about our life here and sometimes that means sharing the tough stuff too.

One of the things that drew us to move to this area on the Bay of Banderas was our work at the Children’s Shelter Manos de Amor.  From the very first visit, we fell in love with the children and with the work that was being done in the shelter.  Children who needed a safe place because their own moms and dads and grandmas just couldn’t care for them.  For many reasons.  For hard reasons.  Every little one had a story and we became a part of each one.

We taught them English.  We drove them from their little homes in surrounding villages back to the safety of the nest.  We held them as they cried and wiped up a LOT of snot with our shirt sleeves.  We had them live in our home on weekends – one little one for 6 weeks while she awaited surgery for an illness too terrible to talk about.  We organized fundraisers and we painted another layer of bright yellow paint over muddy fingerprints.  We sat in a hospital room with one living in silence as he received the cochlear implant that would finally give him sound.  We gave our hearts fully to them and felt God’s hand in every minute of it.

Unfortunately, over the past couple of years we have also experienced some disappointing things that have now caused us to step back and away from the home and the organization.  Some values that don’t align.  Some behaviors that we can’t justify.  Some attitudes that are contrary to who we want to be and who we want to work with.  Some missing accountabilities and foggy transparency.  I am not going to give details here – you can contact me if you want – but as a member of the Steering Committee who worked for almost 2 years to repair some of the breaches, we now realize that it is time to move on.  As a committee we were almost fully united in our plea – please hear us or we must leave.

I won’t lie – our hearts are broken.  But we also feel peace in knowing that when you do what you believe is right, good things can happen.  Even when it hurts.  Love always wins and standing up for love, demanding integrity, fighting for kids is always right.

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We are definitely not done caring for the ‘least of these’ in our community.   We see intriguing doors in front of us and we are so excited to move ahead with passion, expectation, grace, forgiveness, and hope.  There will soon be more snot on our sleeves, and we are pumped!  Stay tuned…

 

Posted in Challenges & Frustrations, Our Life Here, Things I've Learned, Uncategorized, Volunteering in Mexico | 7 Comments

Normal – Not so Normal

Last week we had a visitor from Canada – one of my very favorite people ever.  I always tell visitors that our doors are open, the rent is free BUT when they get home they must write a post about their experience with us.  Their story, their thoughts, their lessons.  That is the price of spending a week in OUR paradise.  So here are the thoughts of my dear friend Niki who blessed us immensely with her presence in our lives and in our home:

I had the amazing opportunity to spend a week in the home of some of the people I love and admire the most on this planet this past month.  Typically, when I travel to Mexico, it looks a lot different than it did this time, because this time I got to experience “normal” everyday life, living on a dirt road in a local community in Bucerias with the Swansons.  Although, I would not really call it normal in any way, shape, or form.

As I arrived in PV, we climbed into their cute little VW bug.  The first thing I noticed was their warm welcoming smiles and hugs, (man do I miss these people), second was the fact that I knew how to say “no Gracious” to each person at the airport who asked if I needed a cab – and in fact I think some of them could see I wasn’t completely vulnerable to that ask.  Third as we climbed into their cute little VW bug  I realized that my hair would not look like I combed it at all for the next 7 days. The wind blowing through it, flying in my face and the adventure had begun.

Within hours we were walking through the local market.  Quite different than the market most tourists probably experience.  2 Blond girls walking through the paths stood out like a bright light on a dark road.

I was in awe of how my friends knew their way through the winding dirt roads and how they have learned to navigate their way in this totally different world.

We had to find the produce stand, and after a while we did and got the vegetables we would need for the week.

We then headed out to an area of great need. What may be a  20 minute trip at home – took about 2 hours here.  It was where we would pick up a child who needed a ride back to the Orphanage for the week.  I had been here before, so my heart and head were more prepared this time.  But in so many ways, it still felt surreal, like a movie “is this the same world I live in?”  “How can this be?” I did however see some improvement from the last time I was there and that made me happy.  The moment we began to drive back to the Orphanage the little boy we picked up, immediately knew he was safe, and fell asleep with his head on Karen’s shoulder.  These people live love!  They are some of the very few safe people that these children know that are completely safe. To walk back into the Orphanage after 4 years and see the ones who have grown up, to miss the ones who are no longer there, and to recognize that even though this is better than the children being at home – this is still not the greatest place for these children to grow up. Again, my heart was changed.

The days consisted of driving and delivering golf carts to tourists in town enjoying Mexico.  Walking the streets, and seeing the most interesting sights. There were days when we would be driving back through the streets in a golf cart when I would hear “KAREN…KAREN…” and Karen would say “Grant Stop the cart..she would jump out and the children would run down the street and throw their arms around her.  You see this is who the Swansons are, they are love, they love the least of these, and again, I was the one who was blessed, inspired, and encouraged.

You see I actually went to see the Swanson’s to find some healing for my own heart.  And what I learned once again is that, it is more blessed to give than to receive.  And although I did receive when I was there, I also was able to give love along side of the Swansons, and this is where the healing happens.

One afternoon I spent some time with a local friend and when she dropped me off, nobody was home.  So I sat in the golf cart in the street and looked, and watched the dogs, the chickens, and the people.  I heard the sounds of the language I don’t understand, felt the warmth of the sun, for almost 2 hours, I just took part in what was going on all around me, and again, I was blessed, and more healing happened.

At the start of the week, Grant said – “Here are the keys to the golf cart – go ahead.”  I was terrified to do that on my own.  But as the days went on, I realized that I am braver than I think, and I began to venture out a little bit more each day, and again, I was blessed, and more healing happened.

All of this to say some people move to Mexico to retire, some people go to have fun, some people go for a vacation, and I believe that those things can all be very good. I got to have fun, eat at the street taco shops, cool local restaurants. I got to visit with some amazing friends I have made over the past years, see a local preschool operate.  I got to meet some pretty neat tourists, I got to eat a cheese burger on the beach and watch the sunset with amazing people, I got to see the magnificent beauty of whales jumping and experience the rugged beach of a community close by.  I also got to help the Swanson’s teach children English, hand out hugs to kids who don’t get enough of them, I got to bless a young momma with some clothes for her kids, and was humbled by how hard she was working to provide for her family, I got to hear the stories that tug on my friends hearts, and see the weight they carry as they just desire to help so many, and through it all I got blessed.

 

Joining with my friends in their NORMAL – NOT SO NORMAL lives was not the typical vacation to Mexico, but it has been one of my favorites by far.  To the friends who sent me on the plane, to the friends who let me serve and live beside them, I was the one who got blessed.

 

Love can look like a lot of things to a lot of people.  But what I saw with my own eyes was a life of love being poured out to so many who just need a chance.  And again – My life was changed.

 

Normal doesn’t have to look so normal after all!

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A Wedding on our Street

It’s been a while since I have written a blog post and this week, I was challenged by a few different people about that.  Some were friends.  Some were strangers who have been reading.  What happened to us?  What happened to our story?  And I realized that we have settled into our life here and now it feels normal.  Just normal. And I forgot that there’s nothing normal about what we do here, and I need to continue to share it all.  Not because you particularly need to hear it – but because I need to tell it.   To stay in the moment, experiencing the wonder of it all every day.

What could be a better story to share for my big return than a wedding story.  Everyone loves to see a bride and a groom on their big day, and we had a wedding right outside our door this week.  An impromptu wedding and honestly, while the bride looked beautiful, the groom didn’t look all that impressed.

It all started with our neighbor named Brittany who lives 3 doors down.  She’s around 8 or 9 and although she doesn’t’ speak English, we have lots of conversations and laughs together.  Every few days she comes over to take Nacho for a walk with her dog Luna.  Apparently on one of those walks, Nacho and Luna fell in love and Brittany decided it was time to formalize the relationship.

20200202_141155A few days ago, we came home to find a note shoved under our door.  The note (translated) said: “Hi, I am Luna.  Nacho, tomorrow you will marry me.  I love you.  Please wear a suit.  At 1:00.  It will be at your house.”  Enclosed with the note was a red and white bow tie.  To go with the suit, I suppose.

Unfortunately, fate was not on the side of the betrothed.  The next day the skies opened and for 3 days it rained.  There was no wedding.  But on Day 4 the sun came out and the doorbell rang.  Luna was standing there in her lovely white wedding dress and her flower girl Brittany was carrying a bouquet of yellow sunflowers.  It was time and I quickly tied the red and white tie on Nacho.  After 3 days of rain, his white tuxedo coat was a mess, but Luna didn’t seem to mind.

 

The wedding was short – the groom easily distracted by nearby tires.  A quick sniff of the butt instead of a kiss.  But Brittany thought it was perfect and we laughed a LOT as Luna kept tripping on her dress in her excitement.

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So no, there’s nothing normal about our life here.  Up north, I never would have taken time on a Thursday afternoon for a dog wedding with a tiny neighbor who didn’t care that I speak a different language than her.   I wouldn’t have spent this morning on my hands and knees drawing chalk art with children from hard places.  I wouldn’t be listening to a DEAFENING mariachi band outside my front door while I write a blog story about what it means to live our normal life.   And just maybe I wouldn’t be this happy!

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Love Always Wins

Now that tourist season is over, our little town is quieter and visitors to the Children’s Shelter where we work are fewer.  That has given me some time to think about the many families and volunteers who visit us over the winter and to ask the question that others have asked me “Is it good for strangers to visit children who come from hard places?”.  Honestly, there are many answers to this question and as a disclaimer, let me say that this post is going to contain my opinion based on my experience.  That’s it.  My personal gut feeling.  Which I think is okay because….. it’s my blog!   It’s my story.  If you have a different opinion – well that’s okay too.

Grant and I brought our daughters to visit Manos de Amor for the first time in December of 2011.  We knew we couldn’t keep vacationing in beachfront resort Mexico without also engaging in dust covered back street Mexico.  So, we googled, we went shopping and we showed up at the door that would change our lives forever.

015.jpgI will never forget that day.  We had absolutely no shared language, but we played games and colored pictures and ate soup and wiped snotty noses and honestly, we didn’t consider if our presence in their home could be hurting these little ones, we just wanted to love them.  Perhaps our motivation was more to assuage our gringo guilt, but our love was genuine, and our laughter was shared.

Top: Me and Brayan  Bottom:  Rubi, Carlos, Grant & Fernanda

Since that time, I have read books and online articles and watched videos that tell me that short-term missions projects or visits can be harmful to those we think we are helping and as a member of the Steering Committee of Manos de Amor we discuss how to best invite guests into the home in a way that is safe.  I have read strong arguments and stats on both side of the issue.   But as I reflect on my personal experience and observation, it always comes down to one simple phrase:  Love always wins.  Showing love is always good and caring for the poor is always right.  That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be healthy boundaries, and if you come to visit us, we are going to give you a brochure with some guidelines we want you to follow.  Affection and attachment and giving of gifts can be confusing to children who come from backgrounds of abuse or neglect.  It would take more than this blog post to share all my views on HOW to do this well, but I want to assure you that you CAN make a difference with your once-a-year visit to our home.  I know because it happened to us!

That first day 8 years ago I met Brayan and Carlos and Fernando and Daniella and Rubi and Jackie.  This week, as in most weeks, I waved at Jackie on Facebook while looking at pictures of her little girl.  This morning I sat in church with Fernanda and Rubi and we shared gum and hugs and Rubi reminded me to bring her prize to English class tomorrow since she finished 5 lessons this week.  She was proud of herself.  Last week I ate Tacos Pastor with Brayan and Carlos and a small thing happened that day that prompted me to write this blog.

Brothers, Brayan and Carlos, 8 years later

The past few months whenever visitors have come and wanted pictures of the children, Carlos would hang back and when I prompted him to get in the picture he would say “No Karen.  No picture”.  He is a preteen and I respect that he is setting his own boundaries.  He doesn’t want to be in pictures with strangers.  I think that is fair and I told him that.  Even when I tried to take his picture he would say “No Karen.  No picture.”   Screenshot_20190602-161803_resized (002)But on Thursday, Carlos took my phone from me and asked for a selfie with me.  He applied some filters, opened my Facebook app and posted the picture with the caption, “Carlos.  Karen.  Friend” with a bunch of emojis of smiles and heart and thumbs up.  He looked happy in the picture. And it hit me really hard.  I have known Carlos for the better part of his life.  Longer than his dad was alive with him.  Far longer than his own mom knew him before she left.    What started as an afternoon visit from strangers turned into a selfie and a caption filled with love.  A friendship.

So, if you are wondering if it is a good thing to visit us next time you are in town …. YES.  It is.  Not to fix us but to serve us.  Not to give us stuff but to show us love.  To learn as much as you teach, receive as much as you give. To empower rather than enable, to respect rather than judge.  Your heart will be broken – that I guarantee.  But in the breaking, your love will grow deeper.  And if you’re lucky, you might just find yourself living on a dusty street in my neighborhood eating tacos and taking selfies with little Mexican kids.

It’s not that complicated.  Love always wins.

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For Everything, There is a Season

shutterstock_1298850127I have had many people tell me the main reason they couldn’t live in a southern location like Mexico is because they would miss the changing of the seasons.  I know what they mean.  The crocuses and tulips popping through the ground in spring after the many months of cold.  The hot days and nights of summer with vacations and BBQs and lake swims.  The reds and golds and oranges of fall leaves.  The new crisp air and the change of wardrobes from cutoff jeans to long jeans.  From flip flops to sneakers.  Everything pumpkin spice.  And then the inevitable sudden blast of that first snow.  The beautiful frosty trees and the not so welcome blizzards and wind chills and trapped at home snow days.  Life in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan, is defined by the change of the seasons and conversation about the weather.    Good and bad.  So much talk about the weather.

I have learned that here in Mexico there are season changes too – they are just more subtle and don’t look all that much different to the untrained eye of the tourist.  But after a couple of years around the calendar, I now recognize that it is time for the shift.  We are heading into rainy season and the signs are around us.

First is the temperature.  Last week, for the first time in a few months, I felt the trickle of sweat running down my back.   My hair screamed to be tied up on top of my head rather than resting on my skin.  We turned the air conditioner on in our bedroom to give us overnight relief as we slept.   It is getting hotter.  Here in Bucerias, the change in temperature is slight – only a couple degrees higher – but the humidity makes it all feel more uncomfortable.  There is less difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures, so our cement houses just do not cool down.   We are fortunate that our house stays comfortably cool – I can’t imagine those families who live in home with no fans, with thick tarps for walls and roofs.

The dust.  Oh, the dust.  It has not rained since January – and that was only a few drops.  The last real rain was in November – 6 months of closed skies.  The unpaved roads spit out giant clouds of dust every time a vehicle rolls by.   The plants are gasping for air, their leaves completely choked by the fine dirt.  And yet, amazingly, flowers still bloom.  The bougainvileas who don’t love water all that much are in their prime now – thick with every color imaginable.  And the mangoes.  The mangoes are coming! My house has not fared as well.  With windows open for needed breezes, every surface is covered with a thin coat of the fine dust.  As fast as I remove it with my soft microfiber glove, it returns.

 

 

So much dust….

 

 

And yet…. new life….

Critters emerge.  First the ants.  A couple of weeks ago we sat down for our regular breakfast in the garden and saw a GIANT pile of dirt that had been pushed up through a crack in the pavement overnight.  As we looked closer, we saw hundreds – maybe thousands – of large ants running around the hill they had created.  Coming out from their underground palace.  Some say ants sense when rain is coming.  That they are getting ready to head indoors.  That will NOT be happening in this house my little friends!

toadWe also were visited by a large poisonous cane toad last week – probably looking for water after a long period of winter drought.   As per usual, puppy Nacho needed a 3:00 a.m. visit outside.  I haven’t decided if he really needs to go peepee every night, or if he is just too bored to sleep – I strongly suspect the latter.  But I staggered down the stairs and into the garage to let him out the front door.  I could see something in the stray cat’s food dish which sits in the garage and as I bent down and looked closer, I saw the dangerous cane toad.  Nacho sniffed at is as well which could have been deadly for him.  Cane toads are extremely poisonous and dogs who touch their skin can die within 20 minutes.   Being as it was 3:00 and my superhero protector was snoring deeply upstairs, I found a pail and covered the food dish, leaving it for a morning evacuation by someone other than me.    Unfortunately, when hubby went down in the morning to bravely save his family, the little poisonous darling had escaped and now I live in fear of whether he is long gone or whether he is waiting amongst the garage stuff to reappear.  We have moved all pet food and dishes inside to keep everyone safe, and I am wondering if that was raccoon cat’s plan all along – conquering the final frontier to move from the garage and into our home for good.

The most obvious telltale sign that seasons have changed is the absence of straw hats and palm tree shirts.  The tourists have left. Our town is quiet.  Many restaurants and shops have closed until October.  Our garage is full of unrented golf carts getting bright green makeovers in preparation for fall.   Soon Mexican tourists will begin to arrive on the beaches with their giant coolers and pulsing boom boxes.

accuweather.brightspotcdn.comThese are the signs that tell us that rainy season is almost here.  Hurricane season officially began this week.  There are 19 hurricanes predicted for the Pacific side of Mexico this season.  Living in a bay, we are mostly sheltered from such occurrences, but many of our neighboring communities are at risk.  As the dangers of the hurricanes pass us by, the winds and rains of the accompanying tropical storms will make themselves known.  The clouds have started to roll in.  It is almost time.  Time for the heavens to open and the pounding rains that come quickly and stop just as quickly.  The fun of watching little children dripping with sweat, running around enjoying the cooling waters on their faces.  The deep puddles for jumping in…. and getting stuck in.  The powerful thunderstorms and mesmerizing lightning shows over the ocean.

These are now my signs of the changing of the seasons.   As I think about why that matters, why people love to see the beginning of a new season, I realize that change always brings hope.   A new season means the possibility of a new dream, a new experience, a new start to a difficult chapter.  We are wired to look for crocuses and sunshine and rains.  To rid ourselves of dust and disappointment.  To start again.  So Happy Spring to you up north and Happy Rains to me and my neighbors here!  For everything….. it is time.

To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
                                                                                          Ecc 3:1-8

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We’re in Business

It was exactly 43 months ago that we found a house to rent and started to move our belongings and our lives south.  It was 28 months ago that we signed the final papers to sell our house and our business and became official residents of Mexico.  Since that time, I have continued to work at a distance as a Sport Executive for a Provincial Sport Governing Body in Canada.  I work at my desk most mornings and I don’t think most of my colleagues have really missed me much.  We still talk via email and text and phone and What’s App and Facebook Messenger and Skype almost every day.  I attend meetings or events in Canada 4 times a year. I write a LOT of reports and E Transfer money around to athletes and coaches and volunteers.  The rest of my time is spent volunteering at the local Children’s shelter here in Bucerias – teaching English, serving on the Steering Committee, helping raise funds, and hanging out with really cute – but badly scarred – kids.  Our life here is full and we are loving every bit of it.  In between the work and volunteering, we walk with our crazy puppy on the beach, eat chicken tacos and explore our town on our bright blue golf cart.

But lately Grant has been itching to get back to some kind of work.  He too loves to volunteer with the children, and he can often be found driving truckloads of them to the various surrounding villages or relentlessly pushing them on the swing in the patio.  He has spent the last year working tirelessly to raise funds to help a little deaf boy receive a cochlear implant.  He too has been busy.  But a few months ago, an idea settled in his mind and he has been nurturing this idea through the bureaucracy that is required to create anything in this country.

The idea came to us because every time we are spinning around town in our golf cart, someone stops to ask us where we got it.  Many tourists in our community do not have vehicles and love the idea of having a simple and safe way to get to the restaurants and shops and grocery stores here in Bucerias and in the neighboring community of Nuevo Vallarta.  The cobblestone streets are not easy to walk on and let’s face it – holidays are an excuse to be a bit lazy.

And that is where the idea for Banderas Bay Carts came from.  We had already set up a corporation a few years ago in anticipation of someday building houses here.  How hard could it be to get the company up and running?  It was just a matter of finding some carts; opening a bank account and a Paypal account and a credit card merchant account; creating a logo and color scheme and mascot and getting some business cards and posters and signs printed; creating a website and a Facebook page, and an Instagram page and a Twitter account;  finding an online booking system and GPS tracking systems, securing liability and accident and theft insurance, and hanging out our shingle.  You can imagine that every one of those things came with problems.  Every single one of them.   So much red tape.  Weird regulations.  Some of it still isn’t working great.  And while Grant has always been self-employed, we have never been in the retail business and definitely not in the tourism business.  Basically, we have no clue what we are doing.  But we are doing it!  It took a trip to Texas to buy 6 carts, 3 or 4 trips into Vallarta to government offices, a trip to Tepic just to get a letter stating we didn’t need to go to Tepic, many trips to our bank and to our accountant, 2 or 3 hours on hold with Paypal, and countless conversations with our Insurance broker.  And don’t even talk about all the YouTube videos Grant has watched to learn how to fix those darn things.

 

 

But my stubborn hubby didn’t give up and after 2 weeks in business, tonight I pulled up the calendar and I see that we are SOLD OUT!  Rafael just called to rent a cart for tomorrow and the Banderas Bay Carts booking guy (that’s Grant – I’m the Social Media 20190301_084400_resized.jpgguy) had to tell him we have no carts available.    We have bookings into September.  We have an Art Gallery in town acting as an agent and they also have more bookings than they can handle.  It’s still a tiny business.  It’s not exactly going to change the world.  But for Kelly whose husband can’t walk very well, it has meant they can get out of their condo and enjoy the next month of their vacation.  It means families can take their children on real Mexican adventures in a new culture, seeing more than the fake Mexico of an all-inclusive resort.  It’s a service that is welcome here and that is good for us.  It means we can earn enough to allow us to continue to give freely to the little ones we have grown to love so deeply.  It means we can finance the life that we know we have been called to.  And it means that we too can continue to jump in our own cart with our shaggy puppy and be part of the fabric of this town.

And of course, we have ideas to make Banderas Bay Carts better for our customers.  Scavenger hunt maps, and Self-Guided Food Tours and Graffiti Hunts and Art Rides.  Adventures.  Family Fun.  It might mean more long trips to Texas to buy more carts.  More bureaucracy.  More aggravation.  More possibility to fail.  But that is what keeps life fresh and keeps old people young.

So check out Banderas Bay Carts and give us a call next time you’re in town – we’ll take you for a spin and if you’re lucky, we’ll rent you the vehicle to take you to your next great adventure!

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