A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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June 10, 2008 — Recently my friend Suzanne Forrest, who lives in Ajijic, had quite an adventure when she went to the charming mountain town of Tapalpa. Here it is in her words, with her permission:

Do you remember the old rhyme that starts “for want of a nail, the shoe was lost?'”  Well, the last time I had my car serviced the mechanic put in the wrong size oil filter and that was the cause of all that happened next..

Last week I drove several friends from my Mexican Train group to Tapalpa for a little outing. We stayed in a lovely brand new cabana built to rent to vacationers from Guadalajara, Colima etc. The second day of our visit while we were touring around the area my car hit a rock in the road and began losing oil. It turned out that the oil filter had been knocked off.

We were in the middle of nowhere and none of us had a cell phone!  Well–don’t let that happen to you. It is the first lesson I learned from this experience. But we were amazingly lucky that a police car just happened to come down the road. The policeman radioed for a mechanic but the only one in Tapalpa said he couldn’t help us for a number of hours. So the policeman, and later his commandante, who he radioed for help, figured out the problem and took one of my friends into town to buy a replacement oil filter and oil to refill the tank. Then the police replaced the filter and accompanied us back to town to see that we were all right.

The next day, however, when we went out in the car, the new oil filter fell off and again we lost our oil! This time the owner of the cabana came to our aid with some of his friends and they discovered that a large bolt that attached the oil filter to the motor was broken. Later the mechanic told us that it was because the oil filter that the mechanic in Ajijic had put on was too big that it broke when I hit the rock.

Anyway, Carlos Barba, the owner of the vacation cabanas, spent hours trying to find a replacement for this part. Since we knew it would be days before  the car would be fixed, three of our group made arrangements for a driver to come down to Tapalpa to pick them up. One friend and I stayed behind.  The next day when Carlos arrived to tell us the status of my car, I was so eager to greet him that I fell over the rockers of a rocking chair and broke my shoulder.

So then this poor guy had to get an ambulance for me. I must report that the little village of Tapalpa not only had an ambulance, but paramedics who stabilized my arm, got me onto a stretcher, and drove my friend and me to the hospital in Guadalajara–and didn’t charge us a peso!  So if that isn’t a testimony to the kindness and wonderful care one can find in Mexico I don’t know what is. And I know some beautiful vacation cabanas with a very obliging owner if anyone is interested. They are Cabañas del Pastor in Tapalpa, Mexico. The proprietor is Carlos Barba. His cel phone is 333-189-2675.

6 Comments from the old blog:

  • At June 12, 2008 7:28 AM,  sam said…

    Hey Hey,
    Although I’m glad to read this kind of stories, I wonder if this is the generalized attitude towards foreigners or -even more interesting- towards other mexicans…

  • At June 12, 2008 1:42 PM,  Rosana Hart said…

    Of course, there are people who are kind like this in every country, and people who won’t lift a finger to help others!

    But from having lived in different cultures at different times in my life, it’s my opinion that Mexicans would not be so kind to us foreigners if it were not something already in the culture. I think of the hundreds of years of Spanish and then upper-class domination here, and I think that people helping each other out has been essential to survival.

    Also, these were older ladies, and the Mexican respect for age — and willingness to care for older people — might also play a part in this story.

    It would not likely have played out quite like this in the US!

  • At June 12, 2008 7:40 PM,  wayne said…

    Sad story with a happy ending! During my extensive tour of Mexico last summer, I encountered many an instance like this one….where the local people almost pushed each other out of the way to be of assistance to a stupid foreigner. Thank you for publishing such an uplifting story.

  • At June 13, 2008 11:39 AM,  Anonymous said…

    I don’t see any difference in the way people responded to this friend than how folks where I live in the USA would, except that where I live the oil filter wouldn’t have been put on badly. I’m assuming the Cruz Roja ambulance took the hospital; they do good work and are heavily subsidized. Think what would have happened if this were an emergency and the distance to the hospital so long – as compared to where most of us live outside of Mexico. Something to consider when choosing a relocation spot – find a place convenient to emergency responders/service. Generally, I find people similar throughout the world and Mexicans no more, no less hospitable than anyone else. Happy ending to the story.

  • At June 13, 2008 7:31 PM,  Rosana Hart said…

    To the last person: Cruz Roja heavily subsidized? Only in their dreams. I have friends who are very active in the Cruz Roja, and they count their pesos very closely. They did well this spring when dozens, maybe hundreds, of lively young Mexicans spent long hours in the hot sun and traffic fumes at on the highways, at topes and traffic lights, in their annual fundraiser.

    That was here in the Lake Chapala area, and my friend who broke her shoulder was in a small town some ways from here, Tapalpa. I don’t know if that was actually Cruz Roja. I do know that when my husband fell off a roof and broke his rib not two and a half years ago, just a km or two from where we now live in San Juan Cosala, it was not a Cruz Roja ambulance that came, but one run by the municipalidad of Jocotepec. They charged us nothing, explaining that it was a cost the govt paid because otherwise poor people would be reluctant to call an ambulance. They didn’t refuse when we offered a small donation, though.

    As for people the same all over the world, well, we will have to agree to differ here. I have lived in enough other places to say that the Mexicans are extraordinary. (Just ask Sam, a Mexican living in France, about the French…)

    I do agree that the oil filter would have stood a higher percentage chance (though not 100%) of being put on correctly in the US or Canada.

  • At July 09, 2008 8:41 AM,  mexpat said…

    Ahhh yes… and that is why we always buy our oil filters in the US and then take the filter and the oil to the mechanic to have him change it (rather than relying on his oil or filters). When my husband wanted to buy the oil filter in the US I thought he was crazy- turns out another expat had strongly urged him to do so.

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