Reunited at last
We are finally reunited with the bus. The last few days have been quite comfortable. Karma's meds are over and she seems to be in good health and spirits. We spent our time starting to make a small group of friends in town and we are fully hitting a rhythm that makes us think that we could live here quite easily. Then we realize our bus is still hours south at the mechanic's, and we realize we have to rip the bandaid off, and leave at some point.
Traveling back didn't seem like the most fun one could have on their birthday, but jen decided that it was the right time to trek back to pochutla and the bus. We arrive eagerly at the mechanic mid afternoon, and watch E morbidly retrieved from the back of the lot hidden among the old buses reserved for scrap parts. Covered in an inch of dust (inside and out), you would have thought we just unearthed a vehicle parked here since the 60s.
We still struggle to understand/translate our mechanic, but it becomes clear that what we thought was a full bill of health for E was not quite true. The head was indeed sent into the city of Oaxaca for retooling and all seems fine there. But it didn't solve our problem and we are still firing on only two cylinders when idling low. He now believes it's a problem with the carburetor, which takes us back to roughly to where we were a month ago when dropping it off. His suggestion seems to be to get a new carb, which he thinks should happen as soon as we return home to the states. Something about our trip is clearly lost in translation.
Worse news still, in the process of tuning up the vehicle he broke off one of the valve adjustment screws. This is a larger issue as the type used in our bus also doesn't exist in mexico, and the temporary replacement may cause more damage if we drive and he recommends remaining here until we find the part. We begrudgingly accept the news and pay the man so we can head back to the beach. The bill is the only highlight to the day as it was at the shop almost a month and cost us what we would have paid for a day at the mechanic in the states. We throw in our bag, hop in E and the bus won't even remain running for more than a minute before sputtering to a stop. Frustration builds, but we get him to go back to work and eventually E keeps running. We tentatively make our way back to the beach and our old camping spot at Dos Estrellas where we feel thrilled to not be sleeping at the mechanic or on the side of the road in between. Not exactly the comfort level we expected after a month of work.
We pull in just before sunset and walk onto the beach for a split second to catch the colors and our jaws drop while we watch a set of massive waves crash into the beach. The waves are easily 3 meters high and the thundering crash echoes around us. We contemplate whether we have simply been away too long to remember but others keep coming up asking if we "saw the waves". They are indeed huge, no doubt the work of the full moon. We try not to think about the larger schedule or decisions that need to be made and simply enjoy Jen's birthday evening. We clean a layer of dust off the inside of the bus to regain our living space and sit down to relax. Also a chance to set about meeting the new members of the backpacker group camped around us. Jen asks each one to sit down and tell us their story, and between the knowledge of her birthday and the offer to share some tequila each one happily accepts. As the moon rises over head we decide to make our way to dinner an enjoy a burger for us and a brosceta for karma (chicken for her, grilled veggies for us). We crash exhausted from the travel day and our heavy minds, but happy to be at least reunited with the bus at long last.
In the morning we set about researching our situation under the understanding we are stuck here until we find a matching screw. Indeed the broken adjuster screw (with a swivel end) is difficult to find. In fact, it seems even most of the replacements in the states are low quality and known to break shortly after install. But a possible ray of hope appears as a few people suggest we may be better off swapping out all of the old screws for standard (non swivel) ones. One person who faced a similar issue even suggests it might solve our firing issue…we dare to dream. Around midday we walk over to the local mechanic to get his perspective and he doesn't seem keen on the idea of switching all of the screws, but does seem to think we'll be okay continuing on our journey with the current replacement. Every mechanical issue with E is like flipping a coin. Each new person whose opinion we ask adds another to the list of very passionate feelings on completely opposite sides of the fence.
During our walk back we discuss our options and realize that once again we are at a crossroads without a clear best choice. We could wait here for another month while trying to get a screw delivered and have our friends come here at the end of the month. Or we could continue on, meet our friends in central america as planned and hope the bus remains healthy. We send some emails out to friends to gauge their interest but essentially plan to tweak the bus as best possible and continue on.
Back at the bus , we spend some time with a trip south, a cool group of guys biking the panamerican highway who started about the same time we did and continued south today. That makes it official. We just got passed by a bicycle…four of them in fact. We are the slowest travelers ever.
After the sun passed far enough by to make it bearable, i decide to try making some adjustments to the carb and see if we can get comfortable continuing on. Sadly, upon trying the ignition we find out that we now can't even get E to start. The engine turns over but never fires up. We spend the next few hours trying to find the issue, checking fuel lines and wires but to no avail. We are dead and its either a larger problem we aren't equipped to deal with or a small problem that we simply aren't stumbling upon. We finally turn off the headlamps, pack up the scattered tools and take a much needed shower before dinner. The highlight of our day is the brief sighting of whales passing by, and the ahi tacos we are able to make thanks to the gentleman walking by with fresh caught tuna. Thank you ocean, and your friend the fisherman…without you, all would certainly be lost.