Sunday, July 25, 2010


By Alex

I gracefully dodged and weaved the oncoming traffic as I pulled off the highway separating Santa Domingo and Quito. An uneasy felling trickled down my spine as I glanced at the temperature gage.

Only 20 Kilometers away from the mechanics our engine was beginning to heat up, I watched in dismay as the gage quickly climbed one forth, half, three quarters, I tried to drive with ease but to no avail. We were overheating again.

Trust is a word that is seldom used in the same sentence as the words auto mechanics. I use to have an open mind and expected the best. I now have no faith or expectations when it comes to mechanics.

Before we left the shop I knew we did not truly fix our over heating issue, but I prayed we would make it to a ¨real¨ auto shop only 2 hours away in Quito.

Here I stood on side of the road kicking dirt and crow hopping rocks at trees in-between bouts of Tourette like rants. Once again we were royally fucked.

The mechanics refused to give us a refund, to be fair it was probably the only income they had to feed their family for a week, but I told them a thousand times the engine had more issues then just the head gasket. They refused to listen and claimed all was well. They were wrong.

As a will of good grace, the incompetent mechanics called a tow truck. I expected to see a flat bed truck pull up. However, I made the mistake of forgetting we were in Ecuador.

Instead a 1980s Ford F350 converted into a make shift tow truck pulled up. I nearly shit my pants. I looked up at the thousands of switch backs and the at least 10% grade that climbed above into the cloud cover. There was no chance we would ever make it.

I pictured a loud crack then a snap of the chain breaking and our bus slowly sliding into traffic causing a massive pile up on the overcrowded two lane road. Explosions would rage above us as a semi smashed into our bus pushing us to the edge. As we teetered on the brink of a cliff Matthias, Zack and I would laugh just before we plummeted 1000s of meter to death.

I was not going to let this vision play out. They were confident in this makeshift truck and in true Ecuadorian fashion they assured us we could make it.

Our bus was 3 times the size of the truck. Each time they tried to attach their truck to our bus we shut them down. They finally got the picture and called a flat bed.

The flat bed showed up and we drove to Quito for the same price it would have been to test our luck behind the F350.

It took us 2 hours to ascend into the Andes, trucks flew past in a harrowing game of chicken as we hung tight bouncing in the bus on the flat bed. We arrived to Quito at sunset.

Alaena was waiting for us at the Nissan dealership, as we debated where to drop the bus, a man wearing a lab coat broke the news that we they would not work on our bus. This was contrary to every thing that Alaena had been told the day before.

After a long argument with the flatbed driver over the price to go some place else we arrived at a Nissan Diesel specialist. They had a gate and a clean office, it was the first American looking auto shop we had ever encountered. It seemed we had found Zion.

We awoke early in the morning went to the office, waited and waited. They checked the engine, fixed the radiator and broke us the news.

The engine had low compression, in order to fix it, we needed to take the whole engine apart, again. This time the mechanic shop had painted floors, a water cooler, they did estimates and the mechanics were certified.

We debated the subject and decided to pay the extra money for a real mechanic. NOT some guy on the side of the road with no training who assumed every issue pertaining to engine heating and cooling was directly correlated to the head gasket.

By the time we reached our verdict it was lunch time. This does not mean everyone goes out for a quick burger and fries. NO they leave go home, take a shower enjoy some television or get a home cooked meal. After about 3 hours of time wasting lunch is over.

El Jefe came back from lunch only to inform us that they were after all unable to complete the necessary work. This was due to the fact that our engine was discontinued and parts would be difficult to come by.

They did have some great news though. One of the mechanics brothers had shop in Santa Domingo.

Alaena and I stood around the auto shop all day until the flat bed driver decided to show up. Back down the winding road we went.

Once again we showed up in the dark, dropped the truck off and went to sleep on the bus.

The next morning we awoke and met with the head mechanic. After a quick look at the engine he informed us that our particular engine is known to have overheating issues especially when driving in cold weather at high altitude.

Quito and the rest of the South American capitals are all above 9,000 ft.

As our new mechanic went into detail on what we needed to do it became apparent we were far better off buying a new type of engine.

We sit now back in Quito with our tail between our legs not knowing who or what to trust just waiting for the phone to ring.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alex! I enjoy reading your blog so so so so much! What an adventure you are having--you're living life--how exciting! I LOVE you--be safe!
    Aunt Nancy