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             HELP IS ALWAYS NEARBY!!!    

            

Although I wrote this story in the early 90's the warm wonderful Mexican people continue to go out of their way to be super friendly and helpful in any situation..

   

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Traffic in both directions suddenly stopped! Vehicles lined the coastal highway as far as the eye could see. As curious drivers return from the delay scene, they report "No accident! Simply two 'tow vehicles' pulling a large truck 500 feet up from a ravine".  The truck evidently careened straight down during the night.

Travel delays on Mexico's narrow 'old' roads are not unusual. What followed was one more interesting Mexican experience.  On this perfect warm tropical Sunday, families heading to the beach for some stopped traffic.jpg (58626 bytes)holiday fun sat patiently on guard rails to share a picnic. Coca Cola, chips, sandwiches plus the beer and tequila (hopefully not for the drivers) helped to pass the time.  A double tanker driver behind us turned up his stereo -- everyone socialized and relaxed. We couldn't go anywhere for an hour or so...Why not sit back and enjoy? 

Mechanical breakdowns and delays cause only minimum concern in Mexico. Inadequate telephone communication however does discourage drivers from trying to phone 'road service' for assistance. Routinely a motorist stops to offer help. If necessary, many people will drive into the next village to find a mechanic for you...that is if they can't fix the problem themselves.  

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First time RVers in Mexico may feel apprehensive  travelling in a strange country with a different language and customs. No need to worry; on countless occasions we found immediate roadside help was always available.

Mexico's unique Tourism sponsored GREEN ANGELS or 'Angelitas Verdes' as the Mexicans know them, drive each 200 mile stretchGreen Angels.jpg (38092 bytes) of highway twice a day.   These two-man mechanical teams carry gas plus some parts...at least one member speaks basic English. They provide FREE  Maintenance Assistance and Medical First Aid   for tourists and highway travellers -- gas and parts they sell at their cost. When RVers meet their distinctive green and white truck as it drives past--it's comforting, but also unnerving; the 'Angels' don't retrace their steps for several hours.

Most RVers know someone who benefited from 'Green Angel's' assistance. One extreme example -- a single lady RVer in a park near Cancun where my friend was staying needed maintenance to continue driving her campervan.  The 'Angelitas' in this case went beyond the call of duty.  They transported her broken part 'somewhere' with assurances they'd have a replacement in five days.  Sure enough, returning as promised, the sixth day she continued her journey.   

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I know most road repairs are of less complexity than this, nevertheless each day these 'Angels' do help many travellers with problems on the highways.

Mexico is a foreign country, laws differ here from USA and Canada. To compensate, Mexico West Members using International Gateway receive 'Tour Aid' coverage with their policy. Emergency Road Assistance  and Legal Aid Policies contribute much to peace of mind travels.  Included among the many policy benefits is funds--to offset towing costs...shipping of vehicle parts is free. Also covered...Mexican lawyer fees plus money to pay bonds or fines for members involved in serious accidents. English speaking 'Help' is always available by dialing a USA phone number. 

November '91, several km south of Nogales, a loud back fire echoed under the engine cover.  We couldn't even guess at the cause. The week prior our motorhome received a preventive maintenance tune-up -- including new plugs, rotor and other minor replacement parts.  Since we were already in Mexico, we decided to continue south. 

During the next seven hours the engine of our 32' motorhome performed well...other than bellowing an intermittent 'bang'. Was the fuel in our final Arizona fill-up contaminated? Who knows! 

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Adding unleaded high octane gas twice didn't eliminate the backfiring; frequency increased.  Our RV Park in Guaymas that holiday Wednesday never looked so good. 

Early Thursday, the service manager from a local GM Dealer sent two Our mechanics from Sonora motors.jpg (39946 bytes)mechanics on a 'house call' to diagnose our problem. They checked everything plus changed a questionable gas line filter we carried in our 'parts cache'. A test drive determined our 'nearly new' heavy duty spark plug wires with their 'five year' warrantee needed replacing. These particular wires were unavailable in Mexico.

We phoned our road assist policy headquarters requesting a new set of wires.  Friday morning the parts cleared Mexican customs  on route via courier service--expected arrival for Monday. The policy included free shipping costs; however we required a credit card for payment of wires.

Comfortable Hotel Playa de Cortez RV park in Guaymas set amidst beautiful gardens was an excellent place to wait. Warm sunny days at 'pool side' plus many hotel activities added a holiday atmosphere to our delay.

Monday afternoon our mechanical friends with wires in handhouse call for Sonora Motors.jpg (35979 bytes) repeated a second 'house call'.  Half hour later after a quiet test drive -- we were ready to roll.

John and I carry an Emergency Road Service Policy to cover Canada and USA.  Five of the past six years, we also carried a Mexican policy.  Never did we plan to use it but....  Until now, we were uncertain how well this coverage worked south of the border!

Even without a policy such as 'Tour Aid', 'Help is always nearby'.  One March, we pulled out of 'PAL' Trailer Park at Lake Chapala to discover our motorhome was without brakes. No problem, a local mechanic visited us on a Sunday morning to assess the situation.  Early Monday at our campsite, he removed defective parts to take to Guadalajara for repair.  During our brake evaluation, Alfredo discovered a broken shock also required attention.  Three days later we were on our way.

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Another buddy put a 'rod' through his Chev 454 engine the same weekend...a dealer in Guadalajara was able to repair the damage.  His reconstruction took 10 days; however our chum drove home with a serviceable vehicle.

Occasionally breakdowns are not so convenient. Friends spent overnight on the highway with an extensive mechanical problem.  The Police  replenished their flares and patrolled the area to assure they had protection until they were able to continue their journey.  

On another occasion when a tire on our tow car blew, the Mexican gentleman dressed in a shirt and tie on his way to work flagged us over to tell us we had a problem. He then offered to go the the nearest village to find help for us. This blow-out happened on a secluded stretch of highway where villages were few and far between.  We had all we needed on board so we thanked him and he continued on his way.  Again I reiterate, the people are all so very friendly, they just want you to enjoy their country. 

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Minor upsets always have a local solution. One time our 'tow ball' worked loose; our tow car tracked several kms connected  only with safety chains.  We were between villages, but luckily on a wide highway with 'Texas style' shoulders.  While beginning to unhook for separate travel,  we noticed a 'Taller Mechanico' across the road.  He and his neighbour, a machine shop partner found a nut to 'arm-strong' onto the bolt of the tow-ball.  Ten minutes later we paid a $2.00 bill and continued with car under tow.

Shirley-Green Angels.jpg (39645 bytes)

My sister Shirley found out medical help was also

close at hand when she fell off a 3-foot wall.

Short travel days provide daylight hours to handle emergencies. Driving during darkness, unless unavoidable, is foolish!  Not only will assistance be difficult to find if you breakdown; other situations add problems to night driving. Animals sleep on the warm pavement, mountain roads may not have line markings and temporary directional traffic signs are difficult to see.  Simple planning  prepares you for the unexpected. 

Maintenance and labour costs remain low in Mexico. Mexican mechanics are almost 'magicians' when it comes to vehicle repairs. Maybe necessity due to unavailable parts educates 'locals' as 'Super-Mechanics'.  If you need help, ask a village resident or a taxi driver where they go for repairs. Follow their advice.    

RVers who pack a variety of belts, spark plugs, rotors, modules, tires and other incidentals aid the 'experts' to perform the impossible.  A selection of hand tools included with these parts may provide unavailable equipment necessary for most repairs. GM/Ford/Dodge dealers on the other hand have the facilities to work on your RV; parts however, for large engines such as the Chev 454 are extremely hard to find. You can't buy 1/2 size tires in this country either--bring extras.   

Don't be apprehensive about driving in Mexico; roadside assistance is always close at hand.  We have yet to see anyone 'stuck' without help for long. Come and enjoy, "Feel the Warmth of Mexico, NOW."

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RV WebLinks  Updated May 2014: Meet Your Hosts;   Getting Started;  Articles;  

Destinations-(Canada, Mexico, USA);     

Many Recent Updates - Advice and How To;  Book Nook; 

(As of Oct 10) RV Shows;   Travel to Canada:  Travel to USA; (Oct 10);  

  Q&A;   Contact UsSite ContentsGallery Picasa Web Albums