Don’t miss the fun of driving Mexico!


RIO RICO, Ariz. — A couple of years back, I headed off on a 1,200 mile November trip to Michoacán, whereupon I had a minor accident near Imuris that caused what seemed to be minor damage to my car, a normally sturdy Honda CR-V.

(But, in fact, it was an accident that ultimately ruined my engine.)

Friends drove down the 60 miles from Rio Rico to rescue me and my traveling companions (my two dogs) and I left my car in the hands of an incredibly resourceful Imuris mechanic.

He managed to fix my car, at least enough for him to drive it to the border at Nogales, where I met him to drive it across for more repairs at Pep Boys.

About a week or so later, I headed back down to Michoacán,  and the car performed well  – no problems at all.

But my trip back home to Rio Rico was extremely stressful, when my car began overheating.

The first time happened when  I had to pull off Mexico’s Highway 15 to wind up in a beautiful Sinaloa farm.  The head honcho of the farm, saw me, sensed my distress, and dismounted from his horse to stroll up to greet me to graciously offer his help.

Which I accepted, as if I had any other choice?

He handed off the reins of his horse to one of his workers, and then drove me in his brand-new, classy Ford-250 pickup to a nearby village where he scoured up a cranky fellow about my own age. (Which means kinda old.)

This fellow was the head honcho’s mechanic, and when his boss told him I had a fairly new Honda with problems, he said, “I hate working on Japanese cars.”

But the head honcho persuaded (ordered?) him to help me out.  Whereupon, he drove me in his Toyota (!) Tercel to my car.

The mechanic then diagnosed my Honda’s problem as electrical, not the lack of water in the radiator, caused by that Imuris accident that – ultimately – had caused a warped head gasket.

Anyway, he took off the fuse box cover, and pulled out 30 fuses – one at a time- to blow on them and then to wipe each one on his shirt tail.

But by the time, he’d finished blowing and wiping, my car had cooled from new water I’d added, and it started up.

“See!” he exulted, “Your problem is electrical!”

(When I offered him 100 pesos for his time, he was indignant.  Too many pesos, apparently, and so we settled on 40.)

Later on, my car’s slowly expiring engine stopped once again, at a busy intersection right smack-dab in the center of Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa.

I turned on my warning lights, and a friendly, almost bi-lingual fellow-Honda owner immediately stopped, used his cell phone, and within ten minutes Honda’s road service arrived.

After this kind fellow embraced each of the mechanics and inquired over their families’ health (which took another 10 minutes), they manged to start my car to relieve a traffic jam my breakdown had caused.

But not before a beautiful woman, her hair in curlers, appeared on a nearby apartment balcony to dangle down a water hose to refresh my depleted radiator.  Sergio, the youngest and possibly(?) single mechanic, chatted her up, of course.

The help I got from strangers on my return trip from Michoacán was instantaneous and generous with absolutely nothing asked for in return.  In fact, when, on more than one occasion I offered “tips,” my offer was politely refused.

All told, I had five major breakdowns on my way back home, but perhaps the most memorable one was at night during a huge downpour just south of Guasave, Sinaloa.

Luckily, that one was only about eight miles from a town in which I have close friends.  I called my good friends and they assured they would come at once.

But because this breakdown happened on a Saturday night, and my friend Ruben had participated in what might be a Mexican tradition – which is to imbibe a twelve-pack of Tecate beer – Ruben needed lots of coffee before his fierce wife Cheli would allow him to drive.

It was at least two hours before Ruben and Cheli showed up.

But miraculously, I somehow made it back home to Rio Rico.  (Whereupon my car was diagnosed as needing a new engine.)

But what fun I always have, driving Mexico.

Going or coming…

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