Ambassadors for all we America was. Apologists for all America is.

Beer Bob’s Books … in memory

We had heard of a book exchange in Barra de Navidad.  We tried to locate it twice and failed.  We asked locals to the streets we thought it was on and even had a person who had been there once try to lead us to it.  Turns out it is not just a legend.

We found it walking, and there are just some ‘signs’ you cannot pass by.

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Robert Leo Baham is gone now.  He passed away in August of 2006.

And it is ‘managed’ by a local, who keeps it clean and is around at times to talk to visitors.  It is amazing how ‘what we do,’ as Maximus would say, ‘echoes in eternity’.  I am sure he would smile at this article.  I may get parts of it wrong.  If you know more of the story, add it in the comments and I will edit the content.

It goes something like this, older male, Bob, opens a book exchange many years ago in Barra.  He is a resident all year and it is kind-of-a-hobby and kind-of-a-way of meeting people passing thru on the sailboats, the cruisers.  The library got its name because, at one time, he served small beers to visitors.  My guess is that custom got out of hand cost-wise … and it is now a memory from a bygone  and gentler era.  This is not a book store, it is a book lending center.  You bring books in and you can take books out.

It is the simplest of ideas and simplest of implementations.  It is literally a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ with a jail-style door, behind which books are kept.  It is never locked because ‘who would steal a book?”

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This picture is not distorted by the lens … the door is that small and narrow.  I think it really came from a jail.  Inside you find .. .in all  natural light (with no electricity or light bulbs and no wi-fi or coffee maker) a series of book helves and boxes of unpacked book donations … of all things,  BOOKS.

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The books are free to all.  All that is asked is that if you take, you give back.  Return them and add new ones.  There were actually some fairly recent and interesting books here. Carolyn (Lady Spiritus) spent some time looking thru the books as we have read everything on the boat that is not on an iPad several times.  Tireless reverie as when you were a child … before the librarian started saying ….”shhhhhhhh” at your laughter and delight in learning from reading.  And, unlike the iPad …. they do not require recharging.

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There is even a small memorial to its creator.  A wall with a simple obituary … that never mentions Beer Bob’s Books as one of his accomplishments.  That is a pity … cause it has outlived its creator.  So it and he have a kind of immortality.  He is remembered as long as we keep coming and going and giving and taking …  I just wish I had been there when there was beer … maybe we should have a day where beer is served in remembrance.

 

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Funny how what we do touches even people who did not know us!

3 responses

  1. Bryanne Harper

    Love, love LOVE this post. 🙂

    April 24, 2014 at 5:02 pm

  2. It was in the early ’90s, and I had just moved to Manzanillo from Puerto Vallarta. There was a coffee shop in PV that had a book exchange, but nothing in all of Manzanillo. I was dying for something to read in English, and I was up in Barra exploring, and met two Texans, Tracye and Peggy (who are still there). They told me about Beer Bob’s and I went out to find him. The first time I failed, so I came back and got more explicit instructions. I found him, but he was closed!

    A month or so later, I was back and tried again, but again he was closed. I wanted–no, needed, some books to read! I learned I always came at the wrong time–siesta. Well, this time, I waited around, and finally met Bob, with a beer in his hand. He had just gotten up from his afternoon snooze. I must say that the photos you show look nothing like the man I remember. He was rather rotund, was sweating a lot (and constantly wiping his brow), but he loved to talk, and could he tell a story!

    At first, I just wanted to pick out a few books, and be gone. I didn’t know I had to exchange my books for his. Then we started talking, and a few beers later, the book agenda was put on the back burner. He forgave me my sin of not having any books, and told me to choose away! I promised I would bring a load of books back the next time I came–which I did in a few months time.

    I believe it was me who passed out the beers, (who can be certain after almost 25 years), but one thing is for sure, it was a great trade for some sorely needed tomes (even if a couple were romance novels–yuk)!

    When I heard of his passing, I thought of one thing: he was doing what he loved. We never talked about anything personal–just our experiences in Mexico–which were enough for thousands of hours of conversation, but I did like him–and he did belong here–doing what he did best: playing guardian of the English library, enjoying the best Mexico has to offer– in lifestyle–and in beer.

    March 12, 2016 at 8:44 pm

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