Mexicans Can Fix Almost Anything! – Part Two
By Kathy Koches
“I love Mexico and the Mexican people. Besides being kind, warm and generous, they possess the most amazing ability. They can fix almost anything!” That was the beginning a of story I wrote which was published in the August issue of El Ojo del Lago relating some of my recent and incredible experiences with this phenomenon. But I recently had another “adventure” which astonished me. Here’s what happened:
My husband and I recently made some new friends, who live on the south side of Lake Chapala, just past San Luis Soyatlan. They invited us to come to their home for dinner and we gladly accepted. We had a great visit, a wonderful meal and some nice French wine, but decided to head for home before dark, as the roads are not well lit on that side of the lake.
We had no problems getting to Jocotepec and turning east towards home. We passed San Juan Cosala and were just a few kilometers from home, when we heard “Flap, Flap, Flap.”
“What in the world is that?” I wondered. Uh oh, sure enough, a flat tire! Neither my husband nor I are what you might call “mechanically inclined” and the ability to change a flat tire, which many consider a necessary life skill, has not been added to our array of talents. What to do? We knew we shouldn’t drive far so as not to damage the tire further, or even worse, ruin the rim, but there was nowhere to pull off the road that looked remotely like we could find assistance. We drove slowly for another minute and spotted a Pemex station. Hallelujah! Help was at hand, or so we thought.
As we limped into the station we spotted one lone employee, looking bored. Using my very best Spanish, I asked him if he could change the tire for us. Much to my surprise, he said “No.” But he then offered to see if his friend, who owned one of the small stores behind the gas station, might be able to help. His friend was just closing up shop for the day, pulling down the metal door of his store, and he and his pre-teen son came to our rescue. They removed the spare tire, tire iron and jack from the trunk and proceeded to begin what we thought was the simple process of removing the flat tire and replacing it with the spare—but this turned out not to be so simple after all.
He began by using the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts which held the wheel on the car. He used all his might, but try as he would, they just wouldn’t budge. He sweated and strained, but they didn’t move at all. Then he had the bright idea of going to get a hammer and chisel. This when I began to be a bit nervous, wondering if he was just going to bash my car until the dang wheel fell off. At this point a pickup truck with some of his buddies pulled into the station. Of course they all got out, drank some beer while standing around and offering “advice” on what to do, and then piled back into the pickup truck and left.
Meanwhile it was getting dark and the wind was picking up. Now we were not only stranded, but cold and more than a bit worried about what to do. It had been over an hour and still the blasted tire would NOT come off. Suddenly, our rescuer stood up, sauntered over to his shop and returned with a beverage in his hand. “Well,” I thought, “he MUST be thirsty after almost 90 minutes of trying to help us.” He popped the top of the can of Coke, and proceeded to pour about half of it onto the lug nuts! Instantly a huge grin appeared on his face, and he took the tire iron and easily removed the lug nuts and the wheel, and installed the spare, all in the space of about five minutes.
Who knew that Coke dissolves rust? Well, I seem to remember reading it somewhere on the Internet once, something in an article about “life hacks” but, of course, I never seem to remember those helpful hints when I need them.
This total stranger, whom we had never seen before, spent over an hour and a half working on our problem, determined to find a solution and never giving up, when he could just have easily shrugged his shoulder and walked away.
After paying him for his time, including a generous tip, we were on our way once again. As we pulled out onto the highway he smiled and waved, calling “Adios Amigos” to us. And that, my friends, reaffirmed how much I love these kind and generous people I call my neighbors. Once again I was shown that Mexicans can, indeed, fix almost anything!
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com