Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NOT just another day at the beach!!!

Cathryn is always looking for opportunities to practice Spanish and learn new vocabulary, but the events of today are not what she has in mind. Automotive lingo is not high on her list of interests, but today she learned words such as “brakes”, “clutch”, “flat tire” and “spare tire”.

Bob, as usual, went on a run after coffee hour. On his return, he sat outside with a cold glass of water looking around the campground and enjoying the view . . . . until he noticed the truck had a very flat tire! The road to Cabo Pulmo yesterday was rough, and we’ve heard stories of people who suffer flat tires, but up to this point, we’ve been lucky. Our first thought was how fortunate we were this happened in a campground where there’s lots of room to change the tire, instead of on the narrow Mex 1 highway with no shoulders and only occasional spots to pull off the road.

As often happens when someone starts working on anything in an RV campground, a small crowd appeared with offers of help, advice and lots of kibitzing. This was Bob’s first tire change on the truck so there were lots of firsts to accomplish: find the jack, figure out how to lower the spare from under the truck, identify the jack lift points, etc. But with the assistance of fellow campers, we soon had the spare installed. Next up: get the flat fixed.

In Mexico it seems most every product or service has its own small shop. Gas stations don’t fix tires, or in some cases even have air. So we drove around La Ribera asking for directions from 3 different people to a Llantera, a tire repair shop. In most places, they’re ubiquitous. The one we found, like many, was an annex to someone’s home with a basic set-up for changing tires, and PILES of old repaired tires ready to be reused. Yep, that’s right, no new tires – that’s yet another store. This great guy, Santo, took our tire and told us to come back in half an hour. Bad news: the tire had a hole in the sidewall, which according to Santo, is not a repair we should make because of the danger of it failing and causing a blow-out. He recommended we buy a new tire, which of course is not available in La Ribera. He told us we’d have to go to San Jose del Cabo and recommended a specific shop right on the Mex 1, “Frenos y Embragues” – thus adding a new word to Cathryn’s vocabulary: embragues means clutches – she’d already learned “frenos” when our brakes failed driving down a mountain in Costa Rica 3 years ago.

So, back to the campground we went to replenish our cash supply from a vast hidden stash of pesos, eat a quick lunch and head to San Jose del Cabo, an hour away. We found the shop easily and explained what we needed to the fellow behind the counter, Antonio. He told us the brands we had to choose from in the size we needed, and we made our selection. Then he announced that because it was 12:57 and they were about to close for their lunch break, we’d have to come back at 3pm. As this put us in some danger of completing our business too late to get back to the campground before dark, Cathryn put on a sad face, told him we’d come from La Ribera, and explained we weren’t just buying a new tire for the heck of it, but because our tire had a hole in it. Bob doesn’t think this would have worked for him, but for Cathryn, this guy said “Hold on a minute”, came back two minutes later and asked us to pull the truck into the shop. Four guys, all scowling a bit except for Antonio who came from behind the counter to pitch in and help, scurried around and removed the old tire from the wheel, installed the new tire and balanced it. Twelve, yes TWELVE minutes later, we pulled out with a new tire installed and paid for. Now that’s service!

So we made it back to camp at 2:30, hitched up and headed home to Los Barriles. By 5:30 we were on the roof top deck debriefing over a margarita, a recipe we’ve modified slightly from Jim’s recipe, so it doesn’t taste quite as good as his, but is less potent. Despite the hassle, we experienced three examples of kindness today – so not at all a bad day in Mexico!


Agnes and Mary said...

Looks like Bob was SUPERVISING the tire change................
OK, now, after a number of posts using a different link, I think I've got it right.

Lynn said...

Doug has stitches in his forehead as a result of getting a tire down from under the truck. nasty place to put tires as they get stuck up there with mud & road dust. at least your flat tire didn't involve a trip to the ER! Lynn