When you meet La Cruz de Huanacaxtle resident Paul Mixon (and sooner or later you will if you live in or around La Cruz) you will quickly appreciate that he is not a timid man and he does not mince words. In fact, after conversing a bit with Paul, chances are you will be privy to a chunk of his extremely entertaining life and you will find yourself wanting to know more. This has been my dilemma for the better part of a year; the time I have known Cap’n Paul. So I asked him if we could sit down and discuss “the life and times of Paul” ostensibly for Inside La Cruz, but I must admit, every bit as much for me. What follow are my mixed notes of that conversation and background info from other sources I will reference at the end of this piece. -LH
Paul Mixon was born and raised in Chicago, and enlisted in the Navy out of Lindbloom Technical High School. Stationed in San Diego, he was a flight crew electronics technician and radioman who ironically never spent time on the water, although he spent a considerable amount of time “…flying OVER the water, supposedly looking for Russian submarines. It was an easy job, I think while I was in the Navy my longest day of work was MAYBE four hours.” Gives new meaning to Cold War (this was in the early ‘60’s…).
After surviving those demanding service years, Paul returned to Chicago and, against the advice of Naval advisors (who recommended he use his newly acquired expertise to work in electronics repair- jobs he turned down because of the relatively low pay and can you believe Xerox was one of those jobs?) he went to work for United Airlines on the ramp loading airplanes. “It didn’t take me longer than four weeks to realize that working the ramp in Chicago in February was not going to be my life’s work. Did I mention IN FEBRUARY?”
In short order, Paul arranged a transfer, detoured to City Hall, where he “...got married, jumped in a car and drove to San Francisco.” He calls this one of the best decisions in his life. Working for United Airlines afforded Paul and his new bride easy access to an elevated lifestyle thanks to the power of United’s status in the SF Bay Area (“Oh, you work for United Airlines…say no more…”).
It was during this period that the connection to Mexico saw its beginnings. Paul was invited to a friend’s home in Scotts Valley (near Santa Cruz) to attend a “seminar” by the Black Panthers (Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, yeah, THOSE Black Panthers). At the end of this seminar, Paul was informed that the recently opened campus of University of California at Santa Cruz was “…looking for Blacks.”
No stranger to an opportunity staring him in the face, Paul was soon enrolled at UCSC, EOP (Equal Opportunity Program) and GI Bill money in his back pocket. Encouraged to attend the Summer Session where “Sandinistas were going to teach Spanish classes,” Paul agreed and next thing he knows (still working for United Airlines, by the way) “…I remember getting on a plane and flying down to Puerto Vallarta” to “practice” his Spanish. So began an appreciation of Mexico and the Bahia de Banderas after his incredible time in PV that featured, as you might expect, many escapades that will need to remain unpublished…
After leaving Santa Cruz, Paul went to work with Xerox, a company he had interviewed with after leaving the Navy. At that time, the position/pay hadn’t tempted Paul, but this time around, he would be working as an outside sales rep and he jumped at the chance. This job, Paul says, “…made me a business man.” His approach was simple, “…the harder I work, the more money I make because I’m on commission.” He worked weekends, because he could and because he had clients who were open weekends.
He did well, although his money management skills were still lacking, or in his words,” I didn’t have the good sense to know what to do with it.” Nonetheless, it was during this period that he purchased a sailboat. Since arriving in California, his interest in boats had been piqued, especially during his time at the coastal Santa Cruz campus where he had learned to sail. In 1980, he sailed the boat from San Francisco to the Panama Canal and back up to Florida, “...with my wife number five, and two cats”.
On his way south to Panama, he had the occasion to once again visit Puerto Vallarta and on his way he anchored at Punta de Mita, went ashore and spent the morning in the old village. He remembers feeling an extreme sense of tranquility from the Bahia and the calm village and planning to return on a more permanent basis. The seed was once again planted.
Paul had spent many summers in the British Virgin Islands, where he chartered Moorings Yachts. The Moorings eventually asked him to help sell yacht charters to the National Brotherhood of Skiers. Part of this eventual “deal” was that Paul received use of 5 boats free for one week, “…and I turned that into ten boats and that’s how the Black Boaters Summit began.” This was in 1997; ten boats and 100 people, most of who had never sailed before.
“I thought- the industry is missing the boat NOT targeting African Americans, (so) why don’t I target African Americans and have ‘em go sailing with me? So I developed Black Boaters Summit.” With the support of friend Bill Pinckney (the only African American sailor to sail around the world via all the capes) he started the drive to put together the Summit.
“Black Boaters Summit has made me a better manager of people, it’s a vacation, but there’s a lot of coordination and I can’t just be impatient…It’s made me a better man, I think…a better person just from working with all the men and women that I’ve worked with to pull the event together.”
“I am blessed. I mean, what (else) would I be doing? Would I be on the corporate treadmill? Would I be looking for the next six-figure job? …Or the next six figures in the same job? I LOVE what I’m doing…I’m living my dream every year sailing with a ton of new people I’ve met, people from all walks of life.”
Paul has been at this, which he refers to as his “labor of love” ever since, giving people (some of whom have little to no experience with sailing) a chance to live a dream. Today, it continues annually with roughly 30 boats and 250 people; Paul handling the logistics- chartering the boats, arranging lodging, ordering the provisions and hiring the captains. And while he devotes “10 hours a day, 6-7 days a week” to this effort, it has never ultimately produced what he can call a viable business or career. And so, it remains a “labor of love.”
During the Black Boaters Summit in 2009, Paul met his current wife, Marvelle and shortly thereafter he sold his home in California (in spite of the rapidly tanking economy) and Cap’n Paul drove to Chicago (it turns out they had grown up blocks from each other…) to help care for her mother who was “failing in health from diabetes”. When she passed away after two years, Paul decided that they “weren’t going to do a third winter,” in Chicago (refer back to “Did I mention…in FEBRUARY?”). Like Paul, Marvelle is an “adventuresome, entrepreneurial, wandering soul.” They headed south (against the advice of many a nay-saying friend) and haven’t looked back since. Mexico was finally calling.
These days, when he isn’t involved in some detail for the Black Boaters Summit, Paul works on his new project to promote “Dental Tourism” to Mexico and specifically, to the Bahia de Banderas. Putting together packages that include travel, lodging, consultation and the actual dental procedures for as much as 40% off of what the procedure alone would cost in the US, Paul feels that this can be an attractive alternative to many people. Perhaps the biggest hurdle in promoting this is promoting Mexico as a safe destination, both in terms of general security AND the medical aspects.
Cap’n Paul is also a weekly guest on the Internet Radio show, “Plan B Lifestyles” where he has ongoing discussions about the “Dental Tourism” project as well as interviews with locals about moving to and starting businesses and a new life in Mexico. Paul has hosted musician and restaurant owner, Philo Hayward (Philo’s), Dentist Adrian Malja, restaurant owner Melinda Wilker (Charlie’s Place) and yours truly, among others. Don’t worry about Paul getting bored anytime soon…
Black Boaters Summit click HERE.
National Geographic® podcast series on Paul and friend, Bill Pinckney click HERE.
Plan B Lifestyles episodes (guests are interviewed at roughly the half-way point)-