Saturday, July 09, 2011

a last fling in the highlands

There is a place where well-laid plans happen just as they should -- a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

And that place certainly is nowhere near me.

Friday morning I had planned to be driving away from the casita between 6 and 6:30.  When I opened the driver’s door of the truck, it looked as if someone had dumped a bag of trash in the driver’s seat.

At first, I was a bit annoyed.  Then I recognized the trash.  It was mine -- from the console compartment.  Apparently, someone had been doing a bit of early Christmas shopping.

And the swag was a bit eccentric.
  • My high-quality, cold weather sleeping bag for sailing.
  • Used jumper cables given to me by Lou when my last set was lifted.
  • A flashlight I bought after searching for several months.
  • A transformer for using my computer with truck battery power -- a gift from my brother.
  • The windshield mount power adapter for my GPS.

And I thoughtfully provided the swag bag.  I left a garbage bag in the truck -- the covering for my one-day power window failure.  It must have been handy to dump all of the items in -- and be off like Saint Nick’s not-so-saintly twin.

OK.  The obvious next question is how did this all happen?  I am almost positive I locked the truck when I transferred groceries on Tuesday night -- the last time I drove the car.

But there were no signs of forced entry.  I guess that leaves the open door of opportunity as the best theory.

The good thing is that everything can be replaced (with a bit of work) or I can do without it.  In the end, it was inconvenient, but nothing more.

I put the “do without” theory to the test as I drove away.  I used by GPS on the drive over.  And, as is often the case when relying on technology, I did not really pay attention to how I got to San Miguel.  Nor did I know how to get out.

So, I stated driving down the hill.  I came to what looked like a main road with lots of buses and followed them.  Eventually, I ended up on the road to Dolores Hidalgo.  At least, I knew where that was.

And then I noticed another item that had been stolen.  What had been a quarter-full tank on Tuesday was now an almost empty tank.  It appeared I was siphoned.

Rather than do the cautious thing, I pressed on for several miles with my fuel indicator light reminding me of my stupidity.  And I eventually found a Pemex station before I had to do my impression of Claudette Colbert.

Even the drive back offered a bit of adventure.  About 15 miles outside of Guadalajara, cars started driving toward us on the shoulder of the toll road.  There was a wreck up ahead.  And, in true practical Mexican fashion, drivers were turning around to head down the free road, instead of the toll road.

Then outside of Colima there was another accident that blocked traffic heading down the mountains.  This time, there was nothing to do but wait.  John Calypso has blogged about several long waits on Mexican highways.  For me, the first was no wait at all, and the second was only about a half hour.

But I made it back to Melaque.  Somewhere around Colima I could feel the heat radiating through the truck’s body.  Stepping out of the truck at home was like entering a sauna.  And it felt good –--at first.  The warmth almost immediately restored the mobility in my hands I had lost in San Miguel.  The cost, of course, was the humidity.

I am looking forward to the arrival of my guests on Saturday afternoon.  And then I will be off for several weeks more of highland adventures.


Don Cuevas said...

My sympathy. 
After our gas cap was stolen while our truck was being filled at a Pemex in Cd. Victoria, back in 1980, we bought a locking gas cap and have had one on every vehicle since.We had our Windstar entered and quickly rifled through back in 2006 in Morelia. It was probably due to our absent mindedness in not locking the Windstar properly, between forays out in Centro. At the time we thought the thieves had a magic decoder ring to let themselves in.Score: 1 overnight bag of underwear and medicines, 1 jumper cable, 1 iPod Classic, 1 Windstar operator's manua, misc. stuff. They didn't take any as the cap was locked and it was broad daylight, on a busy street.Saludos, Don Cuevas.

Babsofsanmiguel said...

So so sorry that happened.  I always say to new guests, "Can't leave one thing in your car, period" and "Be sure you keep it locked".  Since you've been in Mexico so long, I didn't say that to you...........darn.........

Felipe Zapata said...

At the risk of sounding like a broken record: You should not leave your vehicle on the street overnight in this fair land.

John Calypso said...

Total bummer - we have not had any theft in Mexico save
someone lifting a spent car battery out of the yard (can get 100 pesos or more
for a dead battery).

Obviously you were a bit culpable leaving an ‘open’
invitation. I am sure that does not obviate any of the pain. I feel for you

Perhaps this will lead to our education on buying a good flashlight and

Your GPS would not work laying on the dash (to get home)?

We are in Las Vegas where stuff like this happens a lot. I
am going to go check that my car is locked now.

NWexican said...

As the saying goes, "coulda been worse."
My bro-in-law had his gas stolen a wonderfully different way, there was a hole drilled in the bottom if his gas tank. Sorry about your calamity but glad you made it safely.

Steve Cotton said...

It was just stuff.  The only thing I need to replace is the GPS mount.  I already have a replacement coming from The States.  It is so easy to forget to lock doors.

Steve Cotton said...

It is not a big deal.  Your lesson on the CDs has been well-learned.

Steve Cotton said...

But that was not an option.

Steve Cotton said...

There is no pain.  I am not tied to my stuff enough to care what goes missing.  My mistake.

The GPS works fine on the dash -- for about two hours or so.  Not much help on a nine-hour drive.  It is not designed to be used very long on battery power.  Driving without it was a good lesson in paying attention to where I was actually driving. 

And there is always the dilemma of locking or not locking doors.  I have already learned how easy it is to have a window broken and things stolen.  This time, there was no tampering with the radio.  Simply a crime of opportunity.

Steve Cotton said...

And what is it with stealing the manual?  The first time my Escape was broken into (that time through a window the thief broke), one of the items missing was the manual.

Steve Cotton said...

This little adventure certainly does not qualify as a calamity. Hardly even a tope in the road.

Babsofsanmiguel said...

If I had known, I would have told you to go over near Mega, follow that road out of town to Celaya (which is only about 20 minutes now) and get on the cuota there. It takes you all the way and you're never on two lane roads........soooooooo much easier then the way the GPS brought you  here.  Maybe I'll give you one of my Roja maps.
I went out and checked my car on the street this morning after reading your post but no problems.  The CD episode is the only thing, oops and the broken window in ten years.  I suppose while you're here if you want to pull your car in and out each night and morning you can.  I just never thought you would have any problems as I don't........To access my gas I have a lever inside the car that has to be depressed in order to open the area where the gas cap is located. I just assumed that all newer cars have that.......guess I assumed wrong!

Steve Cotton said...

When I moved here, I decided to take each circumstance as a new adventure.  Not being certain about how to get somewhere, though, is not new to me.  Over the years, I have developed several techniques.  In this case, I knew I eventually needed to head west.  With the sun coming up, that was an easy assessment.  Knowing the route through Dolores Hidalgo was another clue.  I got to see a lot of things I would not have seen on a cuota.  I have a Roja map that I used once I got gas and was headed somewhere I recognized.  All in all, it was a practically perfect day for being alive.

When I return, my truck will stay where it was.

Sparksmex said...

Isn't Dolores Hidalgo the long way?   I would have headed for Guanajuato

And there are pay parking lots that are not expensive

Steve Cotton said...

Yes, it is the long way.  But, by that point, I was ready for an adventure.  And it worked out to be a great day.

Tancho said...

It may have something to do with displaying "foreign rich Gringo" License plates?
It is indeed a royal pain when stuff like that happens. It is to be expected that at some point something like that would happen, and prepare for it by not leaving anything really valuable in the car. At least they didn't break a window, if there is any positive aspect to the break-in.Your description of the oven as you approached the coast would have caused me to turn the car around and high tail-it back to high country.  Enjoy the heat, you can have it!

jennifer rose said...

Put your car in a pension. Sure, it might mean that you would have to walk or take a taxi from Babs' casita to the pension, but doing so takes your vehicle out of temptation's way. That's what I do when I go to SMA. 

Lock, check, and double-check that you really did lock the doors. A little OCD never hurt anyone.

Finally, go to to plot out your itinerary.  (I know you're not going to do so, since you're a guy, and men never ask for directions.) 

I was going to suggest ziplining if you're looking for adventure, but then I remembered what happened with that adventure. You're too told to keep looking for adventure. Sit back and read Clive Cussler instead.

Steve Cotton said...

I saw your post on Nancy's blog about air conditioning on the coast. I have become acclimated enough that fans do the trick for me. On my last trip to Puerto Vallarta this summer, I turned off the air conditioning in my hotel room and opened a window. Having said that, I did appreciate the cool evenings in San Miguel.

Steve Cotton said...

An idea. But Babs has not had very bad luck by leaving her car out. And this was my fault. Car doors should be locked and goods stowed. I know those rules from parking in The States.

By the time I realized my GPS pickle, my computer was packed. Besides, I did not take the printer with me. As it was, I simply chose the first star to the right and went straight on 'til morning. (Wow! There is a subtext there.)

Croft Randle said...

Our secret is using our old 1989 Honda with a little rust and a lot of peeling paint. It looks enough like a "Mexican" car that potential thieves walk right past it without a second glance.

Steve Cotton said...

The Escape is getting there -- bit by bit.

jennifer rose said...

Babs is resident. Thieves know that they'll have to reckon with her. You're the foreigner, the tourist, the out-of-towner, the new guy in SMA -- and that means fair game. Is it going to kill you to put the car in a pension? 

Print out the route while you're at home in Melaque. In both directions. Put the print-out in the car. 

Felipe Zapata said...

There is always an option. It's just that sometimes it's inconvenient. Long-term contract parking lots are common. With luck they are near your home. If not, that's when the inconvenience comes in.

Let's see. You've lived in Mexico, what, two years part-time? And you've had your gas syphoned, your window busted, your car's contents robbed? On more than one occasion. I've been in Mexico 11 years full-time, and none of that has ever happened to me because I don't park on the street overnight. Never.

I know Babs parks on the street there, and I think she's been very, very lucky so far. Let's hope it continues. But she's running a risk too.

Better not to park overnight on the street. Options exist.

Felipe Zapata said...

Men never ask for directions! Poo-bah! Last time I checked, I had a pair, and I ask directions whenever necessary. My last wife, however, would drop dead before she would ask directions. So much for that stereotype.

But you're right about pensiones. Only way to go.

Steve Cotton said...

I don't usually ask for directions because I have a rather good idea where I am going.  But I often ask for directions in Mexico. 

Steve Cotton said...

But we are straying from my original point.  Losing these few possessions is not a big deal.  At most, it is a slight inconvenience.  Here in Melaque, my truck sleeps behind a gate every night.

Kim G said...

Long ago, I lived in a neighborhood in California where anything that wasn't literally nailed down, locked  in, or bolted on would be stolen. Including the wheels on a parked car.  We learned quickly to nail, lock, and bolt as a matter of habit. And it's a habit that has served me well in the USA, and I imagine would too in Mexico.

Sorry for your loss...sounds like "escape"  is really the name for the contents of your vehicle, not the vehicle itself.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we now live warily, but in a safe neighborhood.

Steve Cotton said...

I was thinking of re-christening the truck from the Shiftless Escape to the Welfare Escape -- because it seems to love redistributing my property.