Saturday, January 2, 2010

Just Another Day in Paradise

To-do list, December 15:

1. Bucerias: find Sammy the upholsterer, drop off cushions. At the orange building (or is it green?) turn left, and then turn right. Look for his shop behind El Famar Restaurant. “Tapiceria” is painted on the wall.

Sammy’s great. He takes our cushions, we give him the fabric, we chat about extra pillows, we agree on a price. His fisherman-friend comes by in his truck with his wife and daughter. Sammy suggests we buy some fish. We look at the fish. We all agree it is very good fish. But we can’t buy it now, we explain. I show him our list: we have a lot to do. Check!

2. Pemex gas station: fill tank. No self-service pumps here. An attendant fills the tank, cleans the windshield. We give him the customary tip and are good to go. Check.

Our attendant especially likes the windshield wipers on the headlights of our Volvo. We all agree they’re unusual. We don’t tell him we’ve had the car for eight years and we still don’t know how they work. Check!

3. Lloyds: change money. Mega: buy groceries. This is our own mini-mall: fast food, banks and cellular phone stores. If a Subway restaurant opened here, it would be perfect.

To-do list near completion, and we feel very efficient! Suddenly, as we’re driving, there is an ear-splitting noise in the car, as if something has exploded. And something has; the entire back window of the Volvo has shattered.

Wait, that’s not on the list.

We pull to the side of the road, leap out and stare in amazement at what is left of our back window. Tiny pieces of glass are everywhere. We search in vain for a rock or air-to-ground missile that has done so much damage. The cause of the exploding window mystifies us.

But we’re not easily defeated. Not here, not in Mexico, where automobiles suffer indignities never imagined in the US. On to the shopping mall. We take turns guarding the car. The car-wash tag team approaches. Don’t they notice we don’t have a back window? We have our groceries and our pesos, back to San Pancho.

With tedious precision Bill removes the remaining glass and creates a new fashion statement; a customized back window out of pink Styrofoam secured by bungee cords. It will be a long time before we can find a replacement. In the meantime, we join the legions of car owners who have patched, wired, glued and taped their cars together. Our neighbors laugh. “Your car is now Mexicanado,” they say. Check!