Nov 30, 2002, 7:03 PM
Post #5 of 25
The reason I live in Mexico has a name – Enrique Valdepeñas. But first a little background to this story.
Re: [MarisolEnPlayas] What brought you to live in Mexico
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In 1991 I was living in Tarzana, a barrio of Los Angeles. I lived on the remains of an old farm place – an acre of land, a 1930 farm house with an oversized 2-car detached garage which also had a small, simple maid’s room, shower and kitchen. I started and operated my engineering business out of the house. As the business grew and I added one, two and then three staff, I faced the decision to rent an office or move myself. Not wanting to pay more rent, I reluctantly I moved into the garage apartment. To call it primitive would make it sound better than it was. The shower was in the kitchen which was on the other side of the garage from the bedroom where the toilet was in the clothes closet.
About six months after I moved into the garage, for one of my spring clean-up fun days, I picked up a young (25) day laborer at the local curb-side hiring hall. He was sitting on the curb looking so sad; he looked like he really needed work. I asked if he spoke English. He replied with what I later learned were his only English words: “Yes, I speak English.” Despite the language barrier, Enrique was a good worker, so I asked him back for a second day. Then I found a few other tasks for him which led to his being around for a full week. At lunch each day, with the help of my bilingual secretary, I talked with him and became impressed with his intelligence, just as I was impressed with his work efforts.
By the end of that week I was sure I had found a guy who had far more on the ball than being a curb-side day laborer, except he didn't speak English. He said he averaged finding work about two days a week (=$100). So I made him an offer: attend ESL school (English as a Second Language) each morning and work for me each afternoon and Saturdays. Thus he could learn English while earning more money than he was making from the street.
At first his tasks included mostly cleaning the office and the yard with an occasional handyman repair job. I had not yet thought of remodeling the apartment. That idea grew slowly as I observed his skills, and as I grew more unhappy with my home scene. I became convinced that we could turn that garage into a swell bachelor’s pad . Enrique's reaction was “Sometimes you are very smart, but always you are crazy.” A comment he continues to make to this day (sometimes he's right).
Well, we did. It took seven years because one of the rules I laid down was it must be a pay as we go project – no debt allowed.
Enrique originally went to Los Angeles in the late 1980’s for the purpose of making money to build a house for his family. When I met him in 1991, he had already purchased the land in a new development area of Lerdo. During the seven years that he worked for me remodeling the garage and lots of other things, he saved enough money to build his two bedroom house, so he went back to Lerdo, built his house, and got on with his life back home with his wife and 3 kids. I helped with the plans and the electrical system for his house. And then I closed my business and retired.
About 3 years later, my landlady of 20 years decided to sell “my” place. I was forced to leave my happy purple house. I considered various options, among them was Enrique’s invitation to move to Lerdo and live with him and his family. During those years that we worked together, Enrique and I had developed a strong father/son relationship, so the idea of spending my old age with him and his family was very appealing.
I was in serious need of a new adventure in my life. So why not? I don’t speak Spanish, but that had never been much of a problem on my many visits with friends in Manzanillo over the preceding ten years.
I was not very happy about leaving the place Enrique and I had built, but I have never regretted moving to Mexico. I’m here for the duration. And Enrique and I are building another house together, and I love it!
I do enjoy going back to the old country once in a while, but I’m always happy when I’m headed south toward home.
Today Enrique speaks English and is a citizen of the USA. We sometimes talk about that chance meeting and wonder how different our lives would be today except for that May morning in 1991.
This story continues on my website.