OK, we did not get off to a great start. In fact, I think you could say we were thwarted by the universe at every turn. Our plan was to leave for Guanajuato on Friday afternoon, stopping in Buda to have dinner with friends on the way out of town. Packing took longer than expected, even after I doubled my estimate to account for the fact that it ALWAYS takes longer than expected. We couldn’t find the keys to the house in GTO. I couldn’t find my passport. You get the idea.
Our poor starving friends called around 8pm, wondering if we were meeting for dinner or breakfast. We assured them we were actually getting into the car to drive, which was true, except for that is when we noticed a very small red puddle under the car. Yes, the car was bleeding and automotive stigmata is never a good sign. We decided the leak was minor - we would head south and fill fluids in Buda and go on our way.
We did enjoy a lovely dinner at a wonderful family Italian restaurant in Buda. I would have had wine with dinner if I had known how the rest of the story was going to go. Back at the car, there is a bigger red pool plus Jamie forgot her medication, which we have to go back for. We decide to go home, have the car looked at in the morning and try again.
Next morning most of us sleep in, while Steven takes the car to get fixed. He returns and we get in the car and head south. We are downtown when J realized she forgot her medication AGAIN, so we go back to the house. Then on to Target to buy some things for the house in GTO. The car is stuffed to the brim. Not even one thin mint is going to fit in this car.
We head south.
Caitlin drives for 100 miles on I-35 and is marvelous!
We get to the border. The crossing into Mexico is easy but I notice with concern the very long lines to get back into the US. We get to the customs place in Nuevo Laredo - we have to get our visas and paperwork for the car. This is where we notice a large river of red fluid running out of our car. We turn around and spend an hour in line, waiting to cross the border. Mustering all of our powers of technology (cell phone, Garmin GPS) and on the phone with our trusty mechanic in Austin we head to a mechanic in Laredo. He diagnoses a loose drain pan plug. He tightens it, we buy more red goop at an auto supply store and head back to Mexico.
We stop again at the customs place and do our paperwork plus add two quarts of red stuff to the car. It’s labeled “Automatic Transmission Fluid” but we have a manual transmission, so why are we even using it? Anyway, it seems to work. At this point, our entire planned schedule is a mess. If we drive straight through, we will arrive at 3am. We decide to spend the night in Monterrey.
Once we arrive, the trusty GPS confidently directs us to the Holiday Inn - except there is no hotel or anything looking like it might have ever been a hotel at the destination once we arrive. Driving late at night through a not-so-nice-part of Monterrey is stressful. We are not in particularly good moods. We eventually find the hotel, check in and go to sleep.
Sunday morning arrives and we have only gotten as far as Monterrey. *sigh* We have breakfast and get in the car again. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. We are listening to an audio book - “Sophie’s World” and it’s keeping us mentally occupied during the boring bits.
I’m driving when we arrive in Guanajuato. There are two routes to our house. One is easy and takes us to Calle Alonzo. We have to stop, blocking traffic while we unload the totally stuffed car, and the someone parks the car while the rest of us haul all this stuff up a steep hill for about two blocks. The town is at about 6500′ above sea level, so you notice the uphill bits. At least, I do.
The other route brings us closer to the house on a street with less traffic, so it’s not so stressful while you unload, but the road began life as a donkey trail and is narrow enough that you have to bring in your side mirrors on both sides in order to not scrape them on the walls of the buildings. It’s a very narrow road. It’s not only narrow, but it also curves in ways not designed by an engineer and goes up and down and at one point looks like it once had stairs.
In fact, the buildings along this road are scuffed with scrape marks by the cars that did not quite get it right. All of the cars parked on the road, on the bits that are wide enough to pass two cars, are covered with scratches and most have their side mirrors attached with duct tape.
Steven has always done this part before; I have said often I’m not driving it. We have had tourists take pictures of our car on this road on previous trips. For whatever reason, I decided to go for it. The trick is to keep the left side of the car so close to the left wall that you are pretty certain you are one inch away from scraping the wall at all times and then just assume the right side will attend to itself. It really wasn’t that bad; in fact it was empowering. Sorta like driving to the airport in Baghdad. You just have to learn to ignore the snide remarks.
We unloaded very quickly and Steven found the parking space to beat all parking spaces. In fact, we can’t leave now. We just have to take a taxi everywhere in town and then fly home, because this parking space is so good we can’t bring ourselves to move the car out of it.
I think things are looking up.