by Layna Segall de Velez, Feature Writer
While the stories I read in the media sadden and discourage me, hearing about what is happening in his own country must be heartbreaking for my R2. Please don’t for a second think we take the tragedies lightly and our hearts go out to the families of the people whose lives are forever changed from this senseless brutality.
The purpose of this story is to demonstrate the kindness we have experienced from one side of Mexico to the other, no matter where we go, no matter how many times the policia stop us, no matter what type of trouble we manage to get ourselves into.
R2 is a VIP owner of a splashy condo but even this posh place makes him antsy. He can’t sit for long and is always thinking of things to do. We were in Ixtapa, Guerrero, probably under a palapa when he said, “Vámonos,” to me. I tried to ignore him but I knew that look. He wanted to “do” something.
Normally we are somewhat prepared for a road trip, but this time we spontaneously jumped into our rental and decided to drive to a little secluded beach I had researched called Troncones. The only thing I had was a bikini and a coverup which I was wearing, and of course, what every person needs on the beach – high heels. We had no phone, a little cash, a camera and just a couple of towels to throw on the playa.
Now, when I say rental car, I don’t mean just any rental car. To this day, I believe this particular car was swapped for the weekend by the teenage brother of the rental car dude. It had no horn, the side mirror was cloudy with caked-on grime, and the rear view mirror was duct taped. What was also missing was gas but that minor detail escaped our notice as the gas gauge was broken.
Along the drive, we stopped in a pueblo, had some great grub and continued on our merry way. We enjoyed our brief time at Troncones, but it was time to head back for our daily “tequila on the deck and watch the sunset” ritual. We were scooting down a steep hill in this jalopy when R2 states, “There is something wrong with the car.” I knew by the tone of his voice, he was dead serious. I whipped around to make sure we weren’t going to be rear ended.
“Ah, hell no, I am not getting in that truck,” I think to myself. Luckily, another car pulled up at the same time. R2 spoke with this hombre chiquito (tiny man) and told me to hop in – we were out of gas, in a rental car we had just picked up. The hombre’s car was equally tiny, and yet he managed to secure two bikes to the roof. His wife was in the front and two sleeping kids were in the cramped backseat. How we managed to get our long legs in, I will never know, but I do know, I was holding a hot, sweaty niño in my arms. The man drove for miles but nothing was open. We were in the middle of nowhere. As he drove, he kept turning to talk to R2, forgetting to watch the road. This was entertainment for them and a great story to tell. We could hear it all now, “Stupid tourists forgetting to put gasolina in the car!”
Finally we came upon a station – thanks to God. Oh, but wait….they don’t have a gas can? The man, his wife and R2 start rifling through the trash looking for pop bottles. Now, I don’t know much about cars but isn’t sugar in the gas tank a bad thing? Meanwhile the kid wakes up and starts to play with the radio, blasting it and taking the car out of gear. I try, desperately to remember how to say “stop it,” in Spanish as I feel the car start to roll. All I manage is “no no” in Spanish, which is pretty much “no no” in English, as I reef on the emergency brake.
They find the bottles, fill a few and we are on the road back to our car. Not so fast…we have to get past the Mexican Army who has created a roadblock near the gas station. Of course, we have no passport or marriage certificate in the bikini. Why is this red-headed gringa with a bunch of Mexicans? R2 told me to slump down in the car, as if there was any room to slump. I am holding two, two-liter bottles of gasolina between my feet, trying to not slosh gas everywhere and he wants me to scootch down. Canada has got talent!
We locate the abandoned car, the man wedges a branch to open the tank far enough so R2 can pour the gas, which he managed to douse himself with, we gave the man a hundred pesos for his trouble, and we were on our way. You will be happy to know, we still managed to have our nightly Paloma on the deck and watch the colourful sunset (after R2 showered off the gasoline).
The moral of this story is…ALWAYS CHECK YOUR GAS TANK IN MEXICO…It is not the renters’ practice to fill them up when returned.
Don’t fear Mexico and the fear-mongering propaganda about the eighth largest nation. Most of the people are kind and generous. Be cautious, be smart and remember, you are a visitor in their country. There is far more to do in this wondrous place than get blindly drunk and insult these hard-working people.
One day we will get back to a place we both love, one day the drug cartels and the government corruption will subside. Until we return it is up to YOU to continue our love affair with Mexico!