I'll start off by saying that we did end up making it to Zacatecas.. rain, snow, differential, and wheel bearings be damned! I think my Spanish teacher in 9th grade mentioned this town in class one day and ever since I have wanted to go. She was bat shit crazy and a pretty awful teacher (Juneau friends reading this will agree!!!) but she was right about one thing, Zacatecas... (more on this later)
Started the morning off the same way we do every morning, coffee. Ken's with cream and sugar, and mine well, a little more complicated. A scoop of matcha powder, a bit of green chai, topped off with coffee and enjoy! It's either that or a scoop of hot chocolate, depends on how healthy I feel like being that day.
The day ended a little different than it does most days. We still finished the evening with all the rigamarole that goes along with putting the pop top up, and still ended with an evening cocktail.. All of this just happened to take place in "Taller de Raul" (Raul's Shop), instead of your traditional camp spot. After the experience we had, there will definitely be a review written up on iOverlander, all positive.
The sequence of events went a little something like this:
-Limped into the town of Parral with a loud squeak/squeal and a new thumping glug glug.
-Found the 1st mechanic looking place we could, that then led us to Raul.
-Made an appointment with Raul for the next day and cozied up in the Walmart parking lot for the night. Free camping and a grocery run, all in one.
-Toweled up our new found leaks from the heavy rain/ snow.
-Spent the day, night and all of the next day chilling in the shop with all our new friends.
We quickly learned that we were the first Americans, or any traveler for that matter, to have visited the shop. It was a wide open area with possibly 5 different shops in what appeared to be old horse stalls. There was a lot of disorganization and lets say cleanliness was certainly not their strong suite. The day came and went, with no luck finding the parts we needed so we were forced to hold tight for the night. With our rear end completely torn apart and jacked up on old wood blocks, we spent the night in the shop. Soda bottles filled with oil, piles of clothes, random tools in random piles, expired calendars with bikini models covered the walls as you would expect in any American shop. A 55 gallon drum turned shop wood stove kept the off the chill from the rain/snow mixture that was coming through the massive whole in the piece of tin they call a roof. It was the type of scenario that would give my tidy step dad heart palpitations.
Darkness fell and we all found ourselves hovering around the fire, meticulously choosing where to step making sure not to tip over a random cup of coolant or bin of nuts and bolts. Every so often a car would pull up and have them put coolant in. Because the weather was so cold people were worried about the water they use as coolant in their vehicles freezing overnight. It was a particularly cold week for them. Before we knew it, it was 9pm and we were doing shots of tequila out of a Nalgene bottle that came from Alaska. An hour passes and there was a Nalgene of vodka and beverages being mixed on what I assume is Raul's work bench but could also be mistaken as the place he dumped out the junk drawer.
Of the 4 mechanics, none of them spoke english very well and well, neither one of us are all that great at Spanish. Thank you, Google Translate! You can speak right into the phone and it translates it into any language. We have English and Spanish both downloaded so were are able to use it even when we don't have service.
The vodka bottle dwindled, our laughs got a little louder, and the jokes about how messy their bosses shop was got a little funnier. It was bed time. They all thought we were absolutely crazy for sleeping in the truck and insisted we come stay with them. We were just as insistent that we would be comfortable and were used to the cold. Said our goodbyes and saw them all bright and early in the morning. Bright and early here in Mexico is 9am..
I spent the next day in the camper, editing a video and Ken helped the mechanics in the shop. 4pm, multiple trips to the part store, 1500 peso and a bottle of tequila later and we were on the road. The thumping glug/glug had bed fixed! It was 20 miles down the road we quickly learned the squeak/ squeal had not. 1 out of 2 isn't bad, right?