What Ever Happened To …?

By Ruth Ross Merrimer


RUTH(Ed. Note: For many years, Ruth wrote our “Lakeside Living” column and was one of the original members of the Ajijic Writers Group. She also wrote a novel, Champagne and Tortillas, about the A-List social set here at Lakeside.)  

I got my first look at Ajijic in 1966 when my husband, Robert Merrimer and I arrived to produce seven documentary films for the Mexican National Tourist Department. Mexico was scheduled to hold the Olympics during this time and the films were to be used for publicity purposes.

Puerto Vallarta was to be the subject of the first of the seven documentaries, and like most newbies to PV, we immediately fell in love with the place, whose population at the time was 14,000.

In 1968, after completing three of the films, and traveling a total of 6,000 miles in Mexico—including 27 states, the Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico’s two Caribbean islands—Puerto Vallarta became our permanent home.

Then, moving back to the States after so many years away was a real culture shock. I hear many people—most of whom have never been to Mexico—suggesting I must surely find the higher cost of living a shock, which makes me smile. They think that everything in Mexico is dirt cheap, the water will kill you and how could anyone possibly live on tortillas, beans and tacos. Of course these types are in the minority. Those that know Mexico ask: “…Why did you ever leave?”

A few months back I was fortunate to have one of my best friends, Barbara Clippinger, move to Palm Springs. But, my joy was short-lived. Barbara has since become reacquainted with an old friend and they have moved to Arizona.

Then my phone rang one day and it was Mila McDonald, another of my favorite buds in Mexico, who had moved to Palm Springs and believe it or not, in the apartment right next door to the one I live in. So, as the saying goes: “A door closes and a window opens.”

One of my favorite times is when the Ojo del Lago arrives in the mail and I plop down in a chair in front of my apartment, and read every line of it. Which brings me to the title of this piece. Each issue I read has fewer of the names I was familiar with during my years in PV. Then I remember that when I arrived in PV there was another group of Americans and Canadians, and other nationalities living there that also disappeared during the years of my tenure.

I play some CDs I brought back with me, and yesterday as I listened to Jerry Mayfield singing one of my favorites that he had written, I tried to remember the last time I read in my Ojo that Jerry was still performing. So, Jerry, know that I think often of you and your lovely wife singing “Look at Me,” and I play it often as well.

I wonder, too, if the current newbies are aware that it was Bill Martin who was the big push that brought television to PV, thus allowing us to keep in touch with the world of our children and grandchildren while still enjoying our own little paradise.

I realize that there are those of my time in PV and Ajijic that have left for that big paradise in the sky, but hang on, I’ll be asking about more of that wonderful generation of “furriners” who helped make Puerto Vallarta and Ajijic the places we all love today. For now, adios amigos, I miss you and hope the feeling is mutual.

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