The Long drive "home"
Wow. we thought the 7.5 hours to Guadalajara felt like a long drive-The way back seemed to be trying to tell that it just isn't meant to be...
We wake up on the street in gdl feeling pretty good about our choice of stealth inner city camping spot. I know, some of you are thinking that we were crazy enough just to go into mexico (what with all the danger and crime and drugs and such) and now we are sleeping on the street in a city of almost 8million people? If you haven't figured out yet that we don't buy into the "unsafe" media buzz than you should start from the beginning of the blog and reread. Also, for those of you who think we are simply crazy, but the media must still be correct...we slept a few blocks away from a starbucks. Not just any starbucks, but a starbucks with valet parking. Did your latte come with driver service this morning?? Beware...your neighborhood might just be getting left in the dust by the safety and accommodations of a similar city in mexico.
We find our way over to the shop of Alberto, who we met yesterday at Vochorama 16. Berto was one member of the large club behind us and was kind enough to come up and check out the bus while I was crawling around underneath. With the help of Willy (another club member willing to translate) he confirmed my conclusion that this time it was actually the starter causing the problem (although he went even further to diagnose a short in the solenoid) and invited us to swing by his shop in the morning for a quick fix on the way out of town. Almost 8 hours later we have a new solenoid and he has basically rebuilt the starter by hand. This guy knows his way around the bus and is apparently an expert of all things electronic. We had also started asking about our loss of power and a few other issues that crept back up during our drive, but the starter took far longer than planned and we save the others to (hopefully) solve on our own. Berto is also extremely patient and willing to put up with our very limited auto part vocabulary and has a friend on standby to translate via walki-talki whenever there's an impasse.
He also works through siesta despite the fact that his wife shows up and his crew takes off. He and his wife are gracious enough to treat us like long-term friends and Jen even fell pray to the mexican custom weve been warned about. People are so friendly that if you mention liking their shirt they will literally give you the one off their back (and not take no for an answer). Jen now has a beautiful new necklace... And all of this for less than we would have paid for a rebuilt starter off the shelf back home. We thank them for their time and help and head out of town knowing that we aren't likely to make the beach tonight but willing to give it a try regardless.
We don't even make it out of city limits before pulling in for gas and realizing that our rear brake has seized up completely. Not sure if this had something to do with being on the lift all day but we weren't going anywhere fast with one wheel not spinning. I adjusted/loosened the brake and got us on our way again, but the sun was getting low and we stopped into Tequila for the night.Tequila was on our list of must-sees, but with both of us still under the weather and not looking to sample we had decided to save it for our next trip to gdl. We circle the town, pull up to a street near the Cuervo distillery, grab a bite to eat and setup camp for the night. I would call it another night of "stealth" camping, but we told the policeman directing traffic that we were parking through the morning and he saw us climb inside after dinner without a word.
We wake up and roll out of the bus to see a new guy directing traffic. He comes over and has to be the politest policeman ever. "Are you going to leave your car there?" he asks politely first in spanish and then perfect english, which we later find out means we are parked illegally and need to move. He stops traffic while we pull 1/2 block down (where he points out that he is parked), and then talk with him about vancouver and tequila before heading out for our walk. Before even getting through the main square we are completely taken with the town of tequila. Its architecture is gorgeous and vibrantly colored, its streets clean and its people friendly and smiling. We walk around getting a feel for the place and snapping photos until I found an old casa/mansion that needed a bit of love and for a moment began dreaming of returning it to its former glory...good sign its time to leave town.
We went back to the public market and grabbed a bite to eat for breakfast and then decided it was time to hit the road as jen's energy had flat-lined and it's naptime. We are excited to get underway and back to our breezy apartment where we can fully recover and recuperate from the trip and el gripe, and for a while all goes smoothly. This drive is actually no less curvy and mountainous than our last, but the absence of topes lets us make it in almost half the time. About an hour and a half out and BAM!. Our windshield shatters into the front of E like that video of a bullet going through an apple. No- this wasn't a bullet, it was a rock. And no, those aren't proof of dangers in mexico. You'll find rocks on your roads as well, and you may even have one thrown at you by a truck like we did.
Bummer- in less than 24 hours we go from prize winning bus to derelict. This seemed like really bad luck at first glance (and im sure repairing/replacing a UK-made safari window in mexico wont be easy), but after considering the many ways this incident could have gone, we'll call it good luck. a- The rock didn't fly through my windshield and completely block my vision causing us to careen off a cliff into the mountain rain forest. b- Thanks to El Gripe Jen wasn't in the front seat to receive a face full of sharp glass but was in the back seat asleep. c- Karma had also decided 15 minutes or so earlier that the sun hitting the floor in the front seat was too hot and had joined jen in the bed rather than getting a glass shower. We'll take a broken windshield and the look of an abandoned vehicle and only being postponed by another 15minutes or so of breaking out the loose glass before continuing on.