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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An American in Baja: BILL

SAN FELIPE – Bill writes songs; country-style ballads that speak of love and loss, promises and pain. Gordon’s Gin, a melancholy ballad, has become an anthem of sorts here in San Felipe. Like all good artists, he creates from his experience, from what lies in his heart. He coaxes sweet sounds from his guitar and sings with perfect pitch and authenticity.

I first met Bill at a poker party. He is tall, solidly built and well-tanned. With Bill sitting to my left, pointing out the fact that he could see my cards, and my knowing that I stink at Texas Hold’em, I said “goodbye” to my fifty bucks with the first deal. Bill is wily and competitive, but so much more . . . as I discovered.

He is something of a legend on the golf course. A single-digit handicapper, he appreciates the beauty and challenge of Las Caras de Mexico more than anyone. He gives lessons to us hackers, valuable tips on swing and grip, and rides around early in the morning, picking up trash and filling divots. If you see him in the distance, you’ll know it’s Bill out there by the way he sits in the cart, arms and shoulders hunched over the steering wheel and driving full-out. He plays with focus and intensity.

If you’re a genuine friend of his, he’ll share some of his history with you. A career Marine, Bill served his country in Korea and Vietnam. Wounded many times and much commended for his actions, he recounts his past in anecdotes without braggadocio. Like a true warrior, he did his duty, protected his fellow Marines and left no man behind. Now, in his late 70s, he still lives by these rules. Bill keeps his promises, helps his neighbors and protects his friends.

All he asks of life, in return, is a low-scoring round of golf, a cocktail or two and a soak in the hot tub, with his wife, Vivianne, by his side. And if you’re lucky, they’ll invite you over for a home-cooked meal. Bill does comfort food; goulash, meat loaf and his special spaghetti sauce. He and Viv enjoy nourishing their buddies. Cold drinks, lively discussion of politics or history (Did I mention that Bill is extremely well read?) and a serenade. It makes for a lovely evening.

Like many Americans here, Bill is talented, accomplished and generous. And like many Americans here, he’d rather not make a big deal out of it.

Semper Fi, Bill.

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