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Barra de Navidad & Melaque Journal – November 21, 2015


For the past 13 years, Joyce and Gary Pittman have hosted a November 11 Remembrance/Veterans Day memorial service) at their Roosters restaurant in Melaque. 

A U.S. Army veteran, Gary’s father had served in World War II the Pacific, while Joyce’s father served in Canada’s King’s Own Regiment, being twice decorated by Queen Elizabeth II for valor. 

After the traditional two minutes’ silence, last week’s ceremony continued with the singing of the Mexican, Canadian and U.S. national anthems. Few dry eyes could be seen as popular expatriate blogger Steve Cotton, a retired USAF fighter pilot, recited “In Flanders Fields.” The civic-minded Pittmans live 12 kilometers north of Melaque, supplying the only internet to their village. Their two restaurants, including Papa Gallos on the beach, employ more than 30 locals during high season, some of whom have worked with them for eight years. “All are part of our family,” they say. 

Joyce and Gary Pittman are also founding members of Costalegre Rotary Club.

Terry’s Legacy 

Four years ago, when Lupita Valencia was just 14 years old, she told her parents, Dora and Raul, that she did not want quincenera, a traditional 15th birthday party. Instead, she wanted to save that money for university.

Her dream? To maintain her excellent grades at school and become a doctor. 

This story moved the heart of steadfast friend, Terry McGarvey, a Canadian expat and past Rotary Club president. Before his untimely passing in 2013, McGarvey had collected sufficient funds to help Valencia take the first steps to fulfilling her dream.

Now in her first year of a four-year nursing program in Cihuatlan, Valencia still hopes to be able to go on to medical school. But the Terry McGarvey Student Scholarship Fund is running out of money and there’s only enough to pay for two more months of Valencia’s education. 

Valencia needs 3,000 pesos a month to cover classes, uniforms and transportation.  Room and board are paid by her family. 

Contact the guardians of the fund, Carri and Larry Leroux (old friends of McGarvey’s), for more information and/or to donate. Call 315-355-8503/315-100-077/315-107-3080, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rotary fundraiser

Costalegre Rotary Club President Jess Castillo and his wife Vivian invite one and all to the first fundraiser of the season. Tickets are now available for the annual Dinner/Dance to be held at Cabo Blanco Hotel in Barra de Navidad on December 15. Last year’s attendance broke all records for the event. 

Members and non members are welcome to Rotary Club’s weekly Wednesday 9 a.m. breakfast meeting at Cabo Blanco Hotel. To find out more email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Tickets for the fundraiser are also  for sale at Cabo Blanco Hotel and Roosters restaurant in Melaque.


Wanda and Chris Kuppler bid farewell to the Barra community at last Wednesday morning’s Rotary meeting.  Founding Rotary members, as well as past presidents, this devoted couple for 43 years has spent 11 years serving our Pacific coast community. They have vowed to come back often to visit.

Hurricane help

Judy and Ron Brown, who arrived on November 18, have facilitated the Edmonton (Canada) Rotary Club to donate CDN$5,000, via Disaster Aid Canada, to help hurricane victims in the area. 

Rosy Cortes and Robert Hansen are also contributing, serving as an effective link between the local community and Anne McIntyre, executive director of Disaster Aid Canada. 

Community Chemistry

In 2010, a u-turn on a job opportunity changed the lives of Angie North and Jorge Alvarez del Castillo Cardenas. Instead, they made “good food and good chemistry” together in Barra at their popular food stand, attracting a diverse circle of patrons and friends, as well as serving the community in many ways. 

Alvarez del Castillo has acted as bilingual link between the expat and local cultures for the Costalegre Rotary Club.  He has also drawn the attention of the local government and associations by publicizing issues centered around ecology, tourism and public safety. In 2013, he collaborated with the United For Barra group, promoting projects such as beach restoration. 

He’s recognized as an MC, translator, collaborator and occasional cook at festivals, ceremonies, sports and charity events. Two weeks ago, thanks to Guadalajara’s Channel 58, he and his contacts arranged delivery of some food baskets for the needy after Hurricane Patricia. 

North can be found giving the best of herself as a graphic designer and property manager while her husband runs mountain bike, hiking and kayaking tours, catering services and Costa Print, a publicity agency in Melaque. 

Contact North at 315-104-7639 and Alvarez del Castillo at 315-100-9240.