My Story by Valerie Pickles
Hi and welcome to my blog site my name is Valerie Pickles (hence the name of the restaurant, the pickled onion) I was born in Nelson Lancashire England but spent most of my life in Ontario Canada where the winters are sooo cold that I was ready to leave to find sunnier places .I really had no intentions of opening a restaurant ,although lots of my friends used to say I should .
I thought to write this introduction of how I came to be here in St Elena as so many people ask me this question and am unable at times to get the opportunity to chat with you due to business being brisk or sometimes not available .
Why did I choose Mexico ? Well I did not really think of Mexico it kind of choose me!
I really wanted to learn a second language, you see when I went to school- eons ago -the opportunities to learn another language was just not available . Then being married and divorced raising two children alone, time and money did not allow me further education.Then when my children left home to begin their life journey it gave time for me to take a different path . After taking a TESOL course (teacher as a second language) in Canada ,I came to Progresso Yucatan to continue with a practicum course in teaching , with thoughts of going to South America .I had previously visited Guatemala and Panama and was looking to travel to unknown to me, places .Whilst in Progresso, I took some side trips on the weekends ( the course was for three weeks in all ) one being to Merida for a weekend. On this trip, staying in a hotel close to downtown I met a Canadian lady by the name of Rose , She sat down at the table where I was eating breakfast and we started a nice conversation about each others life and what we were doing. As soon as she heard that I was going to teach English somewhere in a Spanish speaking country she said “,why not here in the Yucatan”’? “Because I had never thought of it “, said I.Then she preceded to say she could put me touch with a lady called Martha who would be looking for someone to help her in September in her little private school( this was in April 04 ) where she taught English .Rosa told me she used to help her out a little but that she was returning to Canada with her mother after settling the affairs of her parents property in Ticul.
You see Rosa’s father ( then deceased)and mother had lived in a small town of Ticul south of Merida for over 30 years coming themselves first from England emigrating to Canada and then arrived in Ticul where they set up home .They taught some of the local children to speak English and Martha was one of them.
I wrote down the email address of Martha and decided I would write her an email when I arrived home in Canada ,to which I did and got an immediate response. And so my journey began. I decided to sell my home putting a sign on the front lawn without a real estate agent and within three weeks is was sold Mmm I thought this is meant to be as things were going along so smoothly. Next onto selling furnishings and other STUFF which left my self with two suitcases ( now I have three ha ha ) I did leave a couple of boxes with my daughter which contained some of my favourite books and family photos just personal memorabilia.
Now with everything in order I set off towards my new adventure in September 04 and arrived at my destination, Ticul, without difficulty and without speaking Spanish. Martha met me at the front gate, a sweet tiny Mayan woman ,wearing a look of shock on her face .Dropping my bags on the ground outside I was whisked in to be shown a portrait of Martha’s mother (deceased) who was also Mayan but had long blond hair ( as I ) and blue blue eyes ( me too).Upon seeing me Martha said ,”how much you look like my mother I cannot believe it “ From then on our relationship was cemented .After a couple of days I became aware that the reason I was here was to be her mother.. we had long discussions on life in general and her longing to find a husband but a North American and to have her own family ,her guilt feelings of leaving her family behind to pursue her dream . Her dream did come true in 08 and she is now living happily married in the U S and gave birth to her first child 09 .
I worked in Martha’s school for nearly two years but I was getting the feeling of time to move on but not knowing what to do and not wanting to return to Canada .Most of my life I have been self employed running a business in England and again in Canada so it was time to go it alone again. Through help from a local person I was able to secure the buying of land here in St Elena and was told by a local business owner that they were in desperate need for a decent restaurant to which I replied Oh I don’t mind cooking .The locations just fell into my lap sort of speak , a great place I thought right on the main highway situated between two bed and breakfast places .And then work began clearing of the land building at first the restaurant and then a place to sleep for me. Money was not going as far as I was led to believe so henceforth a typical palapa style house for me was just fine and dandy.
The first day of opening was Christmas 06 working without electricity for six weeks .It was quite romantic in the restaurant with only candles to light the way.This worked out good until the winds came and would blow out all the candles but it was fun .I had lamps in the kitchen and cooked by gas.Every day going shopping for supplies and blocks of ice . The day electricity arrived I gave a big sigh of relief now onto the next step getting a liquor license. This took another 6 months going through lots of red tape but finally it happened .Phew another relief.Now everything is running fine and well and am able to continue building such as the swimming pool. A great addition!, A rest Palapa which I hope eventually to serve as more space to eat or for sacred spiritual ceremonies , or even a family accommodation unit.The next thing on my list are new Palapa houses for rent and a gift shop.
So this is how I came to be here in St Elena.