The Victoria’s Secret Model, Dr. Bill, and a Kid Named Alberto

Viví el Victoria's Secret Fashion Show por TNT

Viví el Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show por TNT (Photo credit: sitemarca)

“I felt like a piece of meat,” was the complaint from a model after participating in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

Yeah, this came off of Yahoo News, so you know it’s got to be suggestive, but did an experienced model really have come to this realization only after working her way up to the big time Show of Shows?  When they outfitted her in wings, squeezed her into revealing lingerie that left little to more to suggest, did she pause before high-heeling it onto the runway?  No.  She seems to have made sure the check was deposited first.

Nothing else to report from the world of non-news, at least of any interest…Prostitute ads, Pope wasting food…, Taco Bell firing coupled with FBI investigations – the usual stuff I’ve commented on before, the kind of information that has no value and calls for no action or reaction, other than offering the easy and empty, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you” reaction.

I’m considering doing a few posts on some of the American, Canadian, and European ex-pats who call Costa Rica home.  They are an odd lot…mostly people who have left wrecked lives or open indictments behind in their country of origin.  These are risk-taking people, mostly, and they are as quirky a bunch as I’ve ran across in thirty years of traveling.  Few photos can be included with such posts, since many of these people seem very camera shy, and most of them go by names they’ve made up or have adopted since their arrival.

Costa Rica often reminds me of a pirate-era Tortuga.  There is little altruism here, as I’ve seen ex-pats involve themselves with in many other countries I’ve visited.  Some people are here for the eco-tourism biz, and there are some who volunteer for turtle, sloth, monkey, or parrot rescue projects.  But, on the whole, these people are here for their own economic advancement.  I’ve got a better example to draw from – one from when I lived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

I was walking down the beach my second day in town, trying to kill two days until an apartment opened up.  I had been sleeping in an abandoned restaurant near the beach, and came across Dr. William St. John on my way “home.”  A skinny man, appearing to be in his 70s, bright green bathing trunks that were too tight for comfort, and he was working away at a pile of beach junk, dock lumber, rusted cable and ropes – there had been a severe storm a few days before that had destroyed the city pier, and this was the remains.  I stopped, watched for a few minutes, he acknowledged me, then went back to pulling the mess apart.

“There’s a pelican in here,” he said.  I started helping him.  We eventually freed the pelican, and by that time he had found out I was homeless, and offered me a place to stay.  I spent the next two days living on the roof of the Hotel California – really, the Hotel California – under a corrugated tin roof, my only furniture was a full-sized Brazilian flag.  His name was Dr. William St. John, from White Plains, New York, and he smoothed over the rougher aspects of my life, asking for nothing in return besides my company.  We spent two evenings on his balcony talking over many topics, the broadest, the meaning of life…the narrowest, the value of one life.

Dr. Bill had been a successful physician in Boston, with houses, summer homes, cars, boats, a portfolio of investments, and a severe alcohol problem.  Putting down the bottle somehow brought him to question the lifestyle he had constructed around the endless drive for symbols of status.  He sold everything, gave much of the proceeds to charities, saving enough to travel the world comfortably for the rest of his life, which he refused to do.    He took public transportation, traveled across seas on cargo ships, hiked dirt roads, paid for passage on Arab trading boats, and generally lived like a bum.

When I met him he had visited 52 countries, and had been changing the world for the better, one life at a time.

In Puerto Vallarta Dr. Bill had made friends with a Catholic priest.  Dr. Bill was an atheist, convinced the best he could do in this world was serve his immediate community, and in turn, the world.  But, he also knew that in a Latin American country a local Catholic priest was probably his surest source to discovering a worthy project.  Through that priest he had identified a young man named Alberto who had shown promise, intelligence, a sense of family and community loyalty, but lived in a shack up on the hill without electricity, indoor plumbing, or any of the other conveniences most of us take for granted.

Dr. Bill moved Alberto’s family into an apartment with the basic amenities…nothing extravagant.  He up-graded their wardrobes, concentrating on Alberto, since the young man would need presentable clothing to attend the private Catholic school he was to be enrolled in, on Dr. Bill’s dime.  Alberto got a new computer, the beginning to a library worthy of a young man on his way to medical school, and reliable transportation to school every day.  The Catholic priest was put in charge of monitoring Alberto’s progress, and a local businessman of good repute was charged with monitoring the priest and his relationship and guidance of Alberto.  With all this in place, Dr. Bill backed his way out of the picture, asking only for bi-annual reports on Alberto and his family.

This was not the first such project the good doctor had undertaken.  He received many such reports from countries such as India, Bhutan, Vietnam, Ghana, Morocco, El Salvador, and Ecuador, to name but a few.  Besides the criteria perviously mentioned, the common denominator in Dr. Bill’s kids seemed to be they had ambitions toward a profession that would serve their community.  I lost contact with Dr. Bill after he moved on, while I stayed to become a diving guide, a waiter in a restaurant called Baby Jaws, checked in on Alberto and his family now and again.  One of Dr. Bill’s requests was after he had set a more manageable future in motion for this lad, strangers – like myself – should stay out of the way as much as possible and let the situation play out.

I can imagine I’ll have a hard time finding another Dr. Bill, but I am sure I’ll be able to come up with some unique modern-day pirates.  Will report soon.

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16 thoughts on “The Victoria’s Secret Model, Dr. Bill, and a Kid Named Alberto

  1. All three topics are interesting. Dr. Bill is really cool. My mother used to say, “It takes one to know one.” — her way of saying likes attract. I bet you attract cool people because you’re cool too. PEACE-

    • coyotero2112 says:

      I’m a sucker for compliments…the artistic maniac in me craves attention, so thank you so much for the compliment. You’re mother was right, and she raised ONE…so, PEACE to you also.
      Later…

  2. melissajanda says:

    I was interested to read about your friend, Dr. Bill, because he is similar to a character in my novel. My doctor is from a wealthy British family but he shunned that life so he could spend time helping the poor in Belize. He also “adopts” a young man who shows an aptitude for learning the profession and pays for his education. I had wondered if he would be a believable character. Was he too good to be true? But here, you have a real life example. Thanks for sharing.

  3. jannatwrites says:

    Hmmm…the camera shy ones using fake names would make me a little nervous 🙂 but Dr. Bill sounds like a generous fellow. I’m sure it made a big difference for Alberto.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Dr. Bill made a big difference to so many people it can never be documented. A couple of days on his roof probably saved me from getting robbed, or spending a night in jail…but for all these kids all over the world. And, he avoided any recognition for his efforts. Unusual guy.
      Later…

  4. monosolo says:

    You know so many odd people. Are these characters in your head, or are they real. It would be better if they were characters, I think. I feel like you made me up sometimes.

  5. shimmyshark says:

    Mexico? Is that where you were last week? I was wondering, just didn’t want to pry.
    On my Way…

  6. jerwayne2013 says:

    Very interesting read about Dr. Bill…a man who found true happiness in the simplicity of life…goes back to the old saying “The most important things in life aren’t things”.

  7. Dr. Bill the Medicine Man gone AWOL. What a fabulous story of a person who truly ” gets it.” Makes me feel my familiar pangs of free-floating Southern Baptist guilt. Mea culpa, world and if there is a God, thank you for Dr. Bill.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      I thought you might appreciate him…and, even more, he used to travel with a dachshund named Charlie, like as in Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie. Told me he was in Nepal and Charlie keeled over…heart attack or something…and a monk came along the road with some students, stopped, put his hands on the dog while muttering slow and soft. Charlie perked up, got up, and after a bit trotted along the road with Dr. Bill like nothing had been amiss. Imagine that happening in a life.
      Later…

  8. Br. Bill is a great story. The irony of an old bum looking guy pulling apart trash for no apparent reason and yet saving a pelican in itself is beautiful. To hear the rest only confirms the reason for the pelican save in the first place. Thanks for this.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      He’s just one of the oddballs in my rear-view mirror which have shaped my world view. When I lived on his roof at the Hotel California I used to come down in the morning and he was doing pull-ups on the balcony, more than I could muster at a third of his age. Wander around and I seem to stumble over the truly un-explainable.
      Later…

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