I have always said that I am going to take it all in stride. I am not going to expect things to be easy here or for everything to go smoothly. I will have lower expectations and take each day as it comes. But I admit that this week has presented an irritation that is threatening to make me just a tiny bit cranky.
Last Friday – that’s right, 7 days ago – this story began. Our girls were still here and after a few days working with volunteers at the orphanage, we were excited to go boogie boarding at the beach in Nuevo Vallarta. It’s one of our favorite beaches to enjoy some chicken nachos and some sunshine and waves. When it was time to leave we packed up the lawn chairs, the boogie boards, the umbrella, the towels and sunscreen and books and bags. As we were walking to the overflow parking lot down the road Grant reached for his keys – and I watched the panic cross his face. The keys to our car and our house were gone – he had forgotten they were in the now empty pocket of his swimming trunks. The keys had joined my glasses that were swept away by waves a few years ago. We were stranded at the beach – I know, worse problems right? But forget the beach part of that sentence, the point is we were stranded. As best as we could we asked around – the security guard, the restaurant guy. (The same people I had asked the day Grant lost his phone AT THE SAME BEACH.) We wandered through the shallow water looking for waterlogged keys. Nada. So we hailed a taxi, shoved all our stuff in his trunk and headed home.
Walking the beach…. looking….
Did I mention that our house keys were on that ring too? We were back at home, but stuck on the street in our bathing suits. I went to our neighbors who are related to our landlady and asked if there was any chance they had another key. They laughed at me. So Ninja Warrior Grant set to work. He climbed the tree in front of the house, shimmied across the roof, used the umbrella pole we threw up on the roof to reach in through the bedroom window to slide the balcony door key close enough to grab, and opened the balcony door. We were in. And in case you are a Mexican house thief reading this, don’t even bother. We have moved that key so you won’t be able to reach it.
Now the good news is that we do have 2 sets of house keys – our friend Marioo who had stayed at our house had the second set. But I knew he had lent them to our other friend Carmelo who needed to borrow a light one evening. And I didn’t know where to find either of those guys. So I contacted Zac, who contacted Marioo, who contacted Carmelo, who brought the keys to Marioo, who eventually brought them to us. We were in and we had house keys again. That is the end of the good news.
The next day we went to Poncho’s for breakfast – we knew we needed a Mexican friend to give us a hand. We realized that there is no easy way to get a new computerized key cut. We had purchased 2 extra keys online while we were in Canada but had not programmed them to our Mexican car yet. We figured we would need to tow the car to the Volkswagen dealer – but of course it was a Saturday and when we called there was no one there who spoke English. Poncho called for us and they said they could do it but it would take 3 days and cost $1700 pesos. And we would have to arrange for a tow truck. BUT…. Poncho knew a guy. Brandon the key guy. Within 10 minutes Brandon was at our table in the restaurant asking what we needed. Yes, he could do it. That same day. He would meet us at the beach at 2:00. It would cost us more than the dealer, but we would have it that day. Perfect.
At 2:00 we took a taxi to the beach and surprisingly Brandon showed up almost on time. He jimmied the door open and took apart the door lock mechanism in order to take it back to his shop to cut the key. He said he would be back in less than an hour but we knew there was no way that was happening. Especially since he said he had no gas in his motorbike and all the gas stations were closed because of the gas hike that was going to happen the next day. He assured us he would be back – if he didn’t run out of gas. We went to the beach, took out our tablets, ordered some lunch and some drinks and settled in to read and play some Candy Crush and wait. He arrived back in about 2 hours, after having driven to San Vicente to get gas. So far so good. Surprisingly good. And then it wasn’t. The last step was to call Volkswagen for a code to do the final programming. And they were closed. ALL of the Volkswagen dealers he knew were closed. It was New Year’s Eve. So…. Monday. We would have to finish on Monday. Are you sure Monday isn’t a holiday? No, no, no – we will definitely get this done on Monday. I will call you on Monday.
Okay. We can handle that. Both Brett and Meigan had been up all night sick from food poisoning, so we weren’t really planning a New Year’s Eve party anyway. We walked down to the Thai place for some supper and came home to watch fireworks from our balcony. On Sunday, our family vacation was officially over. The girls had to take a mini bus with their suitcases to the airport, but they were feeling better and were okay with this last Mexican adventure.
On Monday morning, we walked the 25 minute walk to Bucerias Centro to Brandon’s shop, eager to get little Azulita back on the road. Nope, Brandon is not in today. Manana.
On Tuesday morning, we walked the 25 minute walk to Bucerias Centro to Brandon’s shop…. Nope Brandon is in Guadalajara today. Manana.
On Wednesday morning, we walked the 25 minute walk to Bucerias Centro to Brandon’s shop… Nope Brandon is not in. Maybe this afternoon.
Now the good news is that my FitBit was very excited counting steps – we have walked a LOT over these last few days. My daily update congratulated me on being an overachiever with over 10,000 steps each day – over 18,000 on Saturday alone! We have taken taxis and buses and mini vans. But mostly we have walked. And now I want my car back. So Wednesday we decided to go back to Plan A and call a tow truck and take the car to the Volkswagen dealer.
So I used my crappy Spanish – and a bit of help from Poncho – to call a tow truck. It’s a lot harder to speak a new language when you can’t use charades. But I did it. We took a taxi back to the beach where we met the tow truck guy and were driven to the dealership in Puerto Vallarta.
And then we met Raul, who assured us the car would be ready at 6:00 that afternoon. They would reprogram the key and it would ONLY cost us $2400 pesos. Remember they had told Poncho it would be $1700 just two days before – we were now being quoted the price with the Gringo Tax added on. Fine. Just get my car on the road.
That afternoon we had a blast with a whole bunch of visitors at the orphanage – one of my jobs is to meet any visitors who want to visit and make donations. Of course we had to walk there from our home, carrying our BBQ, but it was worth it. We played games and did crafts and ate hot dogs and it was just too late to grab a bus back to Vallarta by 6:00. Which is a good thing because at 5:45 I received an email. “We are having some problems and your car is not ready…. Manana”.
A bus ride, known as a Mexican Massage, complete with musical entertainment
On Thursday morning I called the dealership….. Yes your car will be ready in an hour. Should I call to confirm before I come? No it will definitely be ready at 12:30. Okay – here comes another 45 minute bone shaking bus ride to downtown Vallarta. This time we could actually see the ground going by through the holes in the bus floor. Worth it so I can get my car back. As soon as Raul saw us I could tell by his face that this was not happening today. Facial expressions are bilingual. There is a problem programming your key – when you used your new key to try and start the car, the anti-theft device scrambled up the program and we need to buy a new mechanism. From Pueblo. Which will take 4 days. At least. And cost $8500 pesos. So maybe next week?
Aaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhh. That’s it. Time to call the other Poncho – our car rental guy – and beg him for a car for a week. It’s high season – cars online are $400-800 US per week and there aren’t many available. But Poncho is ‘our guy’ and he gave us the special rate he always gives us – $148 for a week. We promised not to throw his keys in the ocean. We were back on the road.
Poncho from Fox Rental – our car guy.
When I moved to Mexico I fully expected “Manana” to be the way of life here. I did not expect the telephone guy or the gas guy or the cable guy to show up today. I knew he would be here “Manana”. But this week gave me 7 Mananas and I am not really convinced I am any closer to having a key for my car. But as we walked towards the bus stop today I said to Grant, “Isn’t our worse day here still the best life ever?” Every life has its challenges, its disappointments, its frustrations – but when you are where you love to be, you just go with it and eat another taco. It’ll be better….. manana……