Kelly Cline and Dr. Bill Sniechowski
by The Underground Milkmaid
As I followed Dr. Bill to his and Kelly’s home, winding down dirt roads of an area of Pescadero I was unfamiliar with, I kept thinking how in the world do they ever find their way here at night? I had serious visions of getting lost trying to find my way out of there later. They live in one of those magical spots, though, that makes the journey worthwhile.
Bill hails from Detroit and has lived in New York City and in Minneapolis as a UPI reporter. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career for a while, but decided to go back to school to get a degree in Chiropractic practice.
Kelly, a licensed psychologist from San Diego, spent many family vacations camping in Ensenada. She describes the old navy prefab style houses her family floated down to Ensenada Bay and then pulled them up the cliffs to where they perched them, to create a little Gringo community. In the late 60’s to mid 70’s she would go down there once a month to spend some time.
There was the most perfect breeze as we sat under the palapa of their open air, roof-top living room. Surrounded by magnificent views of the mountains on one side, and the richly green farm fields leading to the ocean on the other, we were able to see spouting whales in the distance. It was easy to understand why they built where they did.
How did you two meet?
Kelly: I was finishing an internship in pyschology, and attended a weekend relationship seminar. One of my friends was married to Bill’s brother.
Bill: Yeah…my brother asked me to come….it was like a circle of chains….all disgruntled couples and desperate singles. My brother sat me next to this woman who did not interest me at all. I looked up, saw Kelly come into the room, and said to myself, “My wife just walked through the door.” A year and a half later we were married in Hawaii.
How romantic! How did you both end up here in Pescadero?
Bill: Richard Rutowski was a patient of mine in Santa Monica and suggested we come down here and look around. We had heard a lot about Todos Santos, so we came down for a week, and stayed in Las Bougainvillas. That was in 2001. We returned home with thoughts of retiring, maybe ten years later. But then 911 happened, and other things changed our thinking.
Kelly: We decided not to wait the ten years. Bill sold his practice to his intern, and we returned to Todos Santos in six months. We first rented in Las Brisas, then house-sat in a couple of places while looking for land……found this spot, and then started working on the design of our home. At first we had big plans, but in the end we just built a simple rectangle, which took only eight weeks to get done! We moved to Todos Santos in February 2002, and by September 2003 we were in our house.
It’s so beautiful up here, on top of the house….it’s like its’ own apartment, and it feels so cozy, even though it’s open on all sides.
Kelly: And easy to keep this clean! I don’t like housework…and you just have to hose it down! We love sleeping up here in July and August.
Haven’t you been living in Cabo for a while?
Bill: Kelly started working at Club Cascades selling time shares….so we have been living down there for the past 3 years. I was able to build my practice down there and I now have a lot of Cabo clients.
Kelly: We’ve moved back here now, though, and Bill has been commuting, spending two days there, three days here.
Bill: We’re transitioning back here now, trying to get back to what we first came here for. I’m looking to La Paz now for more clients.
That will be so much easier for you….what exactly do you offer?
Bill: I offer full body chiropractic care, clinical nutrition analysis and treatment.
That’s fantastic. But I can’t imagine how hard it must be on you both, all that commuting…especially with the roads the way they are. Tell me, besides driving back and forth to Cabo so much, what do you find to be the biggest challenges of living here?
Bill: The culture. People will look you in the face and tell you, “I’ll be there at 2pm on Tuesday” and then they don’t show up. They don’t want to hurt your feelings, or disappoint you, so they don’t tell you the truth. I also find the language a challenge. I’m not as frustrated as much as I used to be, though, since I know more now.
Kelly: I have to agree…about the culture. It’s hard to find the balance between being assertive and not being taken advantage of…..or not seeming polite. I’m very direct, and like being that way, but it’s not the way here….it’s considered rude. It feels like “unreality” to me….confusing.
Bill: It takes a lot of effort, living here. Nothing gets done in one step.
Kelly: Right…and if the washing machine breaks down, you won’t be doing laundry THAT afternoon ,that’s for sure. And there might not be parts available anywhere and it may never get fixed. It’s so hard to maintain appliances and cars. There are just no replacement parts!
I hear you….you’d think with all the American appliances they sell that SOMEBODY would stock parts. But we love it here anyway….don’t we? Where do you find the most joy?
Kelly: Joy is right here….makes all of these challenges worth it. There’s the freedom to create the life you want here…..whether it’s hot dogs or prime rib style!
Bill: Yes…it’s easy to create your desired life….less of being in a box than in the US. I love having the sea and the desert.
How would you define yourself?
Bill: Irrepressible….surprisingly dogged. I built two practices in Santa Monica and Van Nuys (Los Angeles area)…came here, started over here in Todos Santos, then in Cabo, and now back here again. I read a fitting quote, something about living the life of “puzzled endurance”.
Kelly: I’m trying on a lot of different coats….seeing which one fits the best. I’m narrowing them down and still exploring. That’s the place I’m in now….still finding it out. Great to have the freedom to do that, if you want to take it. In Santa Monica there were too many thought forms…such high density, not the space for me.
How has your experience here impacted your sense of style or design?
Bill: Being an actor, you do all kinds of things except act. I was a cabinet maker, all Euro style, and learned that is the most utile…doesn’t collect dust! I guess I have always lived this way. I look at life being more relaxed, patient, and tolerant.
Kelly: In LA we’d go to museums. Here a hike in nature is my art and beauty. Natural beauty is as good as it can get. My clothes here are made from natural fibers. I’m turning back to more nature, less frill.
Bill: I threw out my tux last year! I kept one tie and one sport coat for weddings and funerals.
Kellly: A big lifestyle change is you spend so much more time outside. There’s lots more “dirt under finger nails!”
Oh yeah… and not as many manicures and pedicures! Do you have any advice for new people arriving?
Kelly: Whenever you purchase something for your home, consider how to get it repaired. People here will say, “Yes…I can fix that”, but they rarely can. There’s probably a two year lifespan on appliances. Also, be a little more open to viewing things through other perspectives. Try not to impose aspects of where you came from on how things are here.
Bill: Don’t bring home here! And if you want to live long, don’t kill yourself early.
Sage advice indeed. You both have certainly made here home! Thank you so much for sharing your experience of living in Baja.