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
On this perfect warm tropical Sunday, families heading to the beach
for some 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.
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 stretch
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
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
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!
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 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.
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
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
Three days later we were on our way.
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
Occasionally breakdowns are
not so convenient. Friends
spent overnight on the highway with an extensive mechanical
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."