Richard Runyon debuts the sixth installment of 12 in his acclaimed interview series, “A Story to Tell.” As Richard Runyon Ventures charts new horizons, this release marks just one of many exciting steps ahead.

SEATTLE, WA, March 15, 2024 /24-7PressRelease/ — Embark on an exciting journey through Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the latest chapter of Richard Runyon’s captivating interview series, “A Story to Tell.” From exploring Aztec temples to savoring delicious cuisine, Runyon’s business trips to Mexico, where he evaluated refineries, were just the beginning.

In Trinidad, amidst the backdrop of upheaval in nearby Venezuela, Runyon was deeply touched by the warmth of the people, the mouthwatering foods, and the unexpected work holidays – unlike the US, Trinidad celebrates Muslim, Christian, and Hindu holidays, offering a vibrant tapestry of cultural celebrations.

However, it was Nevis that truly left a lasting impression on Runyon. His longing for the island speaks volumes, showcasing the profound impact it made on him. In this latest installment, Richard sheds light on why he holds this unassuming Caribbean paradise in such high regard, known for its one-time sugar production and highly notable residents.

In the sixth chapter of “A Story to Tell,” Richard Runyon expertly intertwines his professional endeavors with personal revelations, immersing himself in diverse cultures and distant lands. With each scroll down the page, readers can expect a vibrant tapestry of culture, culinary delights, and unexpected encounters that transport them to exotic destinations, leaving them yearning for more adventures.

By blending witty anecdotes with profound insights, Runyon captures the thrill of adventure and the joy of exploration in a unique way.

“As we reach the halfway point of this series, I’m reminded of the incredible journey we’ve embarked on together,” shares Richard Runyon. “But rest assured, we’re just getting started. There are countless more destinations to explore through my storytelling, and I hope you’ll continue this adventure with me every step of the way.”

Discover “A Story to Tell” Part 6 today, right here, right now:

TSR News Group: Whether it was your work at Pemex Refineries, the delicious food you enjoyed, or the Aztec temples, you had a lot of adventures in Mexico. What were the greatest highlights? What stands out most in your memory when you think about the big picture?

Richard Runyon: I think it was the work we did, actually. It was pretty interesting because we were looking to try and find opportunities for Pemex products that caused problems either for their employees or the community. I was running a group of 12 engineers. The whole reason we were doing this was because one of the facilities had discharged a fair amount of gasoline in the sewers — I believe it was in Guadalajara — and it caught fire. There was an explosion, a fire. And obviously, Pemex was not happy about this, as well as the people in Guadalajara.

TSR News Group: Yeah, I can imagine.

Richard: So, there was a lot of pressure put on the corporation to find out what their problems were, and then get them fixed. So, we were hired to look at the refineries, and another group was hired to look at the chemical facilities. So, what we did was, we broke ourselves into three units. Each unit spent up to six weeks in one of the refineries, trying to explore the problems and provide them with solutions. Our group started off in Tampico, which is on the Gulf side of Mexico, right on the water. It’s known for deep sea fishing, and it’s sort of halfway between Brownsville, Texas, and Veracruz, which is a big Mexican city. That’s where the Marines landed when they decided to attack Mexico City. The actual refineries were in a sister city called Madero, and we stayed in Tampico, and just traveled to the refinery every day. It wasn’t very far since it was essentially connected. The way it worked was, I would send a team out into a particular operation—refineries were broken up into operational areas—and we would look at that area. We were spending all day, all 12 of these guys, wandering through and trying to come up with areas of concern. When they came back, we’d sit and talk about it, and they’d tell me what they saw, and I’d ask them questions. After a while, they figured out what we were looking for, and our answers got more and more effective.

So, anyway, we would try to find out what these issues were, and then I would take these– if they were significant enough, I would take them and I’d run a simple dispersion program to see how far these problems might go. So, about every two weeks, they would then take all this data. Well, first, every day after we stayed in the refinery we would meet with the refinery management, who had an interesting workday in that they had a fairly long break around lunch. Basically, it’s the siesta time period. And then, they get back together in the evening. And while they were on their break we were working and gathering this information for them. And so, we would sit down with them in the evening, and through a translator I would explain to them what the potential failures that we spotted were, and what the results of those failures might mean to the community.

And then, every two weeks, I would fly to Mexico City and we would have a meeting with the corporate guys, and they wanted to know what we found. I remember, they would ask the manager of the refineries what he was gonna do about it, which really put the refineries on the hot spot. They didn’t like us being there surveying them, and they certainly didn’t like us being in Mexico City every two weeks, to send what they were doing to their bosses. One of the things, for instance, in Tampico, that was really evident to begin with was that they had a significant amount of crude oil spilled all through the refinery. And some of it was so thick we couldn’t get through it. Not that that’s a big issue—if it caught on fire it might have been—but we were complaining about it. We were bringing it up to the bosses, and it didn’t take long to figure out which of our next facilities or operational areas we were going into.

And they cleaned that out, so by the time we got there, there wasn’t any more raw petroleum on the ground, which was nice for us. So, that got taken care of… There was an upper area that we needed to evaluate. I took an elevator up there. The platform had a big hole in the middle of it. So, it wasn’t particularly safe, it was designed to move around. Our guys thought it was moving excessively. And so, we got off and told them, but the designer of the platform told me they approved it and we weren’t ever going up there again. And we never did. I think, in the end, they came forward and said they had gotten approval, but by then we were finished with the project. Either way, we would go from unit to unit and come up with these projections. And it was really interesting stuff. Some of the things that the junior engineers would come up with, were really not a problem, but the senior guys would be saying, “That’s not an issue because of…” this, this, and this. So, there was a nice flow, back and forth, among all of us.

Now, not being an engineer, I’d only ask very generic questions and they’d let the engineers come up with the answers. And we did the job well. So, we were in Tampico for six weeks. In fact, we were in Mexico so long we had our green card. We stayed there at what was at one time a Holiday Inn, but they had sold it to a Mexican firm. They had really good food, particularly if you like fish, because of all the fishing that went on in the area. They also had some Aztec temples that were halfway between us and Veracruz that we could go visit.

And when we visited the temples, there was nobody else there. I mean, there had obviously been excavating, but there was no work being done that day. We were free to wander around, look at all the temples that hadn’t been fully excavated, and look at the etchings on the walls and stuff. It was pretty interesting, particularly since I don’t think anybody really knew about some of these, and we could explore on our own. I went out a second time as well, although the second time we must have hit it at a different time, because they charged us. But it wasn’t a big deal. After we finished with Tampico, we moved to another refinery that was in Careyerta, because it was basically a small village so we stayed in Monterrey. And Monterrey is obviously a big city, and it had lots of things going for it.

The steaks in Monterrey were fabulous, I think they were all Argentinian beef. That’s what I heard. And I had been dying for a break, so when I came back my guys took me to dinner at one of these places and I ordered steak that was so damn big it nearly fell off the plate! It was just wonderfully tender. It was just a great piece of meat. So, I really enjoyed it. Obviously, we didn’t do that every night.

Anyway, we worked this refinery not quite six weeks, mostly because it didn’t have the problems that Tampico did. And that wasn’t so much because of the operation, because the operation was similar, but it was due to the fact that the town had not been built up around the refinery, whereas in Tampico it was one of the first refineries that were founded in Mexico. And so, some of the facilities there were really old, some were from right around the turn of the last century, and it sat right on the water, so it had a lot of problems with rust from the saltwater, whereas this one in Careyerta was in dry desert, and they didn’t have a problem with the rust.

This one refinery was really isolated, so that if it had a chemical release the community wasn’t going to be affected because they weren’t right up to the fence line, which was a problem in Tampico. Although it may have looked like it was a safer facility, and in essence, in many ways, it was… it was really because we didn’t have any problem with the community being right there, and it was a newer facility.

One of the downsides of working in Mexico was that everybody on the team got sick except me. I guess I had an iron stomach. But, everybody else got sick, mostly diarrhea. We used to call it “Montezuma’s revenge.” Well, our industrial hygienist was so sick, I had to put him on a plane and he didn’t come back. I don’t know what happened, but he was in bad shape. So, we sent him home. But I was okay. When we got to Cateyereta, we had a new boss. The boss I had in Tampico was really good. He saw that I was doing a good job and he backed away. The guy in Careyerta wanted to be involved heavily with all the decisions, and he didn’t understand what we were trying to do, and I kept pushing him back. He eventually got the message, but it was a bit of a problem. He got sick while I was there, and that slowed his interference down. So, anyway, that was our Mexico trip. I really enjoyed the work there. I would have liked to have done more of that kind of work.

TSR News Group: Another important chapter in your story is the time you spent in Trinidad and Tobago. I know that you were impacted greatly by the wonderful people, the foods, and what was happening in nearby Venezuela at the time. But why, overall, was this such an important journey for you?

Richard Runyon: Well, Trinidad sits just 11 miles off the Venezuela coast. And, because of that, it was influenced by the discharge of the large Orinoco river, which is discharged into the straits between Trinidad and Venezuela. So, that destroyed any chance of beaches, at least on the southern coast. I only went to one beach on the north coast of Trinidad. Tobago had very, very nice beaches, but unfortunately I never managed to go, and I had made over 20 trips to Trinidad. They were all pretty short. I was working for a local environmental firm where we got these contracts, and part of that was the risk assessment that I did. And so, they would bring me in for an assessment every time they would do environmental assessments. And then, we would report all of that to the firm first who would then submit it to the government. Generally, when we submitted a report we never heard anything back, but every once in a while the firm would comment on my report. One time in particular, I was asked to make a presentation to the government, who were requiring this assessment to occur. They didn’t really understand what we were doing, and they were getting feedback from other people that wasn’t really applicable, and there was some difficulty there. But anyway, we got through it okay.

In Trinidad, because they they were so close to Venezuela, they had access to the oil and gas reserves that were off [Trinidad’s] southern coast, and so they were extracting mostly gas… Some petroleum and oil, but mostly gas. And they would convert that gas into tons of products. They built an entire industrial park that stretched into the shipway between Venezuela and Trinidad. It’s a fairly narrow gulf, the Gulf of Paria, that goes through there. Anyway, they built this industrial park and had all kinds of things there. They were converting the gas into different plastics. They were using the gas as fuel, to fuel a steel plant that they had there, which we looked at. They were making lots of ammonia. They were doing all kinds of things and they wanted our input, so we were kept pretty busy in the different facilities.

I usually worked with a junior engineer who was employed by this environmental company, I think it was called Eco Engineering. Anyway, they were always helpful, knowing where these facilities were and who to contact. In terms of logistics, they were very helpful. I had them drive, because Trinidad is like England, they drive on the other side of the road, and I never got used to that. So, they picked me up at the airport and they just drove me everywhere, to my hotel or my work. I had a chauffeur wherever I needed to go, which was nice. I didn’t have to worry about directions, or managing the traffic flow or anything. Particularly because it was confusing. They had lots of roundabouts there. That was always confusing for me as well. So, anyway, they took care of all of that.

As I mentioned earlier, Trinidad didn’t have good beaches. They had lots of mangrove swamps that provided refuge for a lot of animals, particularly birds. A lot of people would come to do birding. They had some unique kinds of birds. They also had caimans, which is like a small alligator. The only one I ever saw was dead on the side of the road, but that was close enough. That was still pretty good.

TSR News Group: What are they, maybe half the size of an alligator or crocodile?

Richard: Yeah, usually around eight feet. One of the things I enjoyed was food. I always liked to try different foods. They had something called doubles. They’re kind of like a burrito and you could get different foods in the doubles. It was almost kind of spicy. It was good, I enjoyed it. There was a spot where the engineers went that was near the University of the West Indies, and we’d go down there and have a second breakfast. We’d go down there and get some doubles, usually have one or two each, and you could get coconut milk. The vendor would get a big machete and would grab these coconuts and start chopping them. And sure enough, it was coconut milk, and you could chase down the doubles with that. It was fun. And it was all cheap. It really wasn’t very expensive. One of the beaches up north was famous for its shark and bake. I also enjoyed their mangos. They had lots of different kinds of mangos. The engineer I was with, she liked a particular kind, and she would get some for me. They were called Julia mangoes. I mean, I don’t know one mango from another, but she did, so it was kind of fun to search for her favorite ones and try them out. And I also liked the breadfruit. Now, breadfruit was the plant that Mutiny on the Bounty was based upon—that was the fruit that was protected by the captain. That was one of his responsibilities, and was requested by the English government. Some of the crew objected to it because it used the limited supply of fresh water. I believe they tossed it overboard at some point. But, I always wanted to try breadfruit. And sure enough, I was in the office one day, and somebody had a stew that included breadfruit. And so, they warmed up some of the stew for me and made sure I got some breadfruit. And it’s kind of like a potato in that there was just a starch that they add to stews or whatever to absorb the flavors. I don’t know if they eat it on the side like we would a potato, but it’s kinda starchy. And it’s technically a fruit, but it’s not sweet like a fruit. So, you wouldn’t eat it for that reason. But anyway, it’s interesting to try.

Trinidad was populated by a number of different ethnic groups with African descent being one of them. They were descended from the slaves who had been brought to Trinidad to work the sugar cane plantations. After the slaves were freed, they brought in East Indians as indentured workers. Today, the population is about 40% Indian and 40% African. The remaining 20% is a mixture of other expats. This mixture of cultures has made for some interesting experiences. The food is varied and is no longer consumed by just one ethnic group. For example, I already mentioned doubles as initially an Indian snack. Today, doubles have become a snack eaten by all Trinis. I had dinner one night with two young ladies, one was Muslim and the other was Hindi. As it was during Ramadan, we couldn’t start dinner until the sun set. We had a great discussion about the food differences between the Muslims, Hindi, and Christians in Trinidad. It was also interesting to hear that their public holidays included most of the cultures. I counted 25 public holidays in 2023. So, when scheduling work in T & T (Trinidad and Tobago), I would have to consider the holidays and work my schedule around them. It made for interesting times.

One of the things I did one night was, after work some of the Eco Engineering staff and I drove over to the east coast of Trinidad. Almost everything is on the west coast, but the east coast didn’t have any towns, or cities, or whatever. But there are a few people living over there. So, we went to see what was going on. I remember that we crossed this lake, this big pond, and above the pond were thousands and thousands of fireflies. It was just so neat to see them. We don’t have many fireflies out here in the Western U.S. I remember as a kid seeing them when I was in Illinois, but I hadn’t seen one in years, and this was the most I had ever seen in one concentration. So, we finally got to the coast, and it turns out it’s a protected spot for the big sea turtles—the ones that are the size of a Volkswagen. Big, big turtles. I was hoping to see one, but none of them came that day. But what we did find was a nest of eggs that had hatched, and the little guys were working their way down to the water. And one of them got picked up and handed to me. So, I got to hold this little tiny turtle that eventually would be the size of a Volkswagen. It was pretty neat.

They were trying to protect these guys as much as they could. A lot of birds were coming in trying to snatch the turtles. The volunteers who worked there were trying to keep the birds away as best they could. The turtles that were in the water still had predators, but at least there they had a little more of a chance. And they’d eventually come back, because this is where the females would lay their eggs. It was pretty cool.

TSR News Group: That’s great.

Richard: Anyway, I enjoyed my time in Trinidad. A lot of things to see and do. One of the trips I made was to evaluate a 48-inch gas pipeline that crossed an area that was covered in wood and plants, and I needed to follow that route and see about problems on it. One of the areas that we went through was a mahogany forest. Have you ever heard about mahogany wood? Well, it was neat to go through a whole forest of mahogany! I think it was protected and harvested for the wood. But these were all mature trees, and it was kinda fun.

TSR News Group: Mahogany trees, are those thick trees, or thin ones?

Richard: They’re thick.

TSR News Group: That’s fascinating. I never imagined a whole forest of mahogany trees.

Richard: Yeah, neither did I.

TSR News Group: That’s amazing. Next, I want to talk about Nevis. You’ve said that there are certain days you wish you were still there. That’s a bold statement, especially all these years later. To say Nevis made an impression on you is really an understatement. What is so special about Nevis?

Richard Runyon: Well, Nevis is part of the country of St. Kitts and Nevis. All the administrative work occurs on St. Kitts, and Nevis is the step-child, I guess. And they like it that way. Nevis is a volcanic island. It looks just like a volcano surrounded by the ocean. There was not a lot of flat land, but a sufficient amount to provide areas for a growth of sugarcane. So, sugarcane was a huge industry there, at one point. And in fact, Nevis was the first island in the Caribbean to develop a technique to crystalize sugar. So, a lot of the boats that would get molasses from the other areas were going to Nevis and paying to crystallize it into sugar—it’s a lot easier to haul that way. So, Nevis became very rich, and was a popular spot for the British Navy, and was a British protectorate. They had some very famous people who stayed or were born there. Alexander Hamilton was born on Nevis and Captain (later Vice Admiral) Horatio Nelson met and married his wife on Nevis.

TSR News Group: Really?! I never knew that.

Richard: I visited the spot where Alexander Hamilton was born. It was in ruins as all the sugar facilities were no longer operating. So, it was kinda disappointing in a way, because everywhere you’d go there were ruins. But I stayed in a facility that was a sugar refinery converted into a hotel, a very nice place. We were there off-season, but it was a nice place. One of the things I liked about Nevis was, because it was so small, and the harbor, I guess, wasn’t very deep, you couldn’t see the big cruise ships coming in. So, it was kind of isolated, which allowed their culture to continue the way it was normally, rather than having it polluted by all the cruise ships coming in. That was kinda nice. There were no corporate hotels there at all, they were all individually owned. I understand that the Four Seasons is now operating an all-inclusive resort. I remember, I would wake up to wild monkeys screaming in the trees. They’re not indigenous to the island there. They also had some burros that were a big problem. They’d stand in the road and people would be honking at them to get them to move, which they always did.

I had some trouble with my flight home. It got canceled, and I had to redo it or whatever. So, I stayed longer than I anticipated, which was fine, because I could sit there and work, and put together a report. Well, I got talking to the manager, whose parents owned the place, they were Americans. They were there because they were bankers [taking advantage of] the taxing structure. It was kinda like other islands in the Caribbean, like the Cayman Islands. So, anyway, they have an interesting tax situation there.

The manager’s parents owned the hotel, but his parents were off on vacation in merry old England, and he was running the place in the off-season. He and I ended up talking. One of the things we were talking about was umi, which was a Japanese word for sea urchin eggs. And the Japanese paid a premium price for it. The manager had never had it, but I used to eat it after diving. That was sort of a tradition—come back from a dive and collect a nice sea urchin, eat the eggs, and have a nice beer with it. It was pretty salty. Anyway, he never had umi, so I said, “Let’s go get some.”

So, he and I would dive together. He knew where to go. We had a little bit of trouble finding sea urchins which was good news, because they didn’t have a lot of them there. Sea urchins could destroy the habitat for a lot of other species, which is what happened along the Mendocino, California coast. The sea urchins got in there, began to eat the algae, which was also food for the abalone, thus decimating the abalone population. But anyway, in Nevis it was hard to find sea urchins, but we did, and we at least had the chance to try some Umi, which was kind of fun.

It was fun for me to get back in the water. It was just a nice, quiet place to spend some time and enjoy what the Caribbean can really offer without having the craziness of a cruise ship. So, I enjoyed it a lot.

TSR News Group: Well, that sounds great. I can see now what you meant by wishing you were still there on certain days. It sounds like a pretty magical kind of place.

Richard: It was.

TSR News Group: Among the places that we’ve discussed today, are there any things that you wanted to do there that you never got around to doing?

Richard Runyon: Yeah. I never went up to Tobago. I always wanted to visit Tobago. It was a classic tourist spot, but you could find lots of places where there was nobody around, get your own beach house right on the beach. There’s natural reefs which are always fun to explore, but I never had a chance to visit. Of course, I’d love to go back to Nevis as well.

TSR News Group: I’m sure. Was there anywhere else, or did you pretty much make it to everywhere you wanted to, in Mexico and Nevis?

Richard: Yeah, yeah. Mexico City, of course. We went there half a dozen times. That’s a crazy city. It’s really big, crowded, lots of pollution in the air. It was not necessarily a fun place to visit, although we were in some of the areas that had good food and whatever, and we would go out, explore… I was there on Cinco De Mayo once.

TSR News Group: That must have been festive.

Richard: In the US, Cinco De Mayo can be a good deal, but the Mexicans try to downplay it. It was just a win that the Mexican Army had over the French Army. So, it wasn’t independence or anything, and they try to downplay it. They close the bars early.

TSR News Group: Really? I wouldn’t have guessed that. That’s interesting. Tell me, how has travel changed you? Do you crave unique foods or try to relive certain experiences? Maybe it’s just a different rhythm in your daily life or a new view on people and cultures. What’s the lasting impact for you?

Richard: Well, one of the things is that it’s hard to recognize the impact that the US has on the rest of the world until you go to these places and you see firsthand about the US and their policies, and how it affects these countries.

TSR News Group: Are the people in these countries resentful of the US, or are they happy with the arrangement?

Richard: Well, I think the people, for the most part, would just as soon prefer we go away. But the governments recognize that we have things to offer that they need. But I had people in Trinidad and Mexico tell me that they didn’t like Americans. What I think they really meant was, they didn’t like American influence the way it was. I don’t think they meant Americans in particular. Some of them won’t even talk to you if you’re American.

TSR News Group: It’s surprising, because this [‘A Story to Tell’] series is always so full of people who have been very welcoming and friendly, for the most part.

Richard: Yeah, that’s true. Once I got to know them, they opened up and we could talk about some of these issues. And I tried to convince them that not all Americans are the same, and we didn’t necessarily agree with the policies and everything our country was doing. Being a big, powerful country… in some ways they’re right. Americans look out for themselves.

TSR News Group: Historically, and still today, America gets involved in a lot of places where we can benefit economically through resources, such as oil.

Richard: Yep. We’re there for ourselves, not necessarily to develop the countries. Though some of that may occur, that may not be our primary reason.

TSR News Group: The results appear mixed at best when you look at the examples of America trying to introduce its culture to other places, and it is not always readily embraced.

Richard Runyon: No. And I think it’s foolish for us to think that the best thing for them to do is to become a democracy like the United States. I think we need to understand their culture a bit more, and I guess try to understand the best way to help them, which may not be American-type democracy. So, anyway, they already have a wide variety of discussions with people from different countries regarding those kinds of issues, and what’s interesting, to say the least, about some of their perspectives, particularly when they start off the discussions with, “I don’t like Americans,” is like, where do you go from here?


For further reading, please visit Richard Runyon’s official website, as well as his upcoming “Richard Runyon’s Storybook” series website.

For the original version of this press release, please visit here