the

The County Courthouse in Port Townsend, Washington.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? 7 Cedars Casino near Sequim, Washington.

Where are they going next? Somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Sherman - Towed to a truck mechanic shop in Juchitan, Mexico!

We sat on the side of the busy road for a total of about 28 hours. Essentially, doing nothing. Good thing we had a decent cell signal so we had communication and internet access.

The tow truck had been arranged the night before, but they had said they couldn't make it there until about 11:00am. We had the impression that the towing company is very busy and that there aren't many towing companies in this area. The roadside assistance people were not able to find one to help us, and they had said that they would reimburse us up to $300 USD if we submitted the invoice to them once we found help.

11:00am, came and went and still no tow truck.

We waited until noon, and then I sent Gabriel a note asking if he could follow up with them. Sure enough, as soon as we did that, a tow truck pulled in with driver Luis, and his wife Matilde. She came along because she speaks English. Luis went right to work, while Matilde chatted with us.

Sherman, waiting to be towed.

This is the first time in the more than ten years that we have owned Sherman that he has broken down on the highway and needed to be towed. And I've sometimes wondered exactly how a tow truck would approach the situation. I helped operate a tow truck for a couple of months in my younger days, and you need to have something solid, like a front bumper. Sherman's fiberglass front end covers the steel framework underneath and would not be able to support the weight being lifted up in the air.

Luis of course noticed the problem immediately. This big heavy tow truck was not going to work. He decided to see if he could re-seat the ball joint. The stud had not broken, but the joint had separated from the base.

Ruth and Matilde.

Matilde's English is very good, but she says it is not as fluid as it used to be because she doesn't often get a chance to speak it. She learned while in Mexico City in her 20's. She has never visited Canada or U.S., although she would like to one day.

Using a jack and blocks of wood, Luis worked for a couple of hours to get that ball joint back into place. He just wouldn't quit. This was not part of his job... Matilde says that most tow truck operators would have simply said "sorry, can't help you" and driven away.

But he was just trying to get us mobile enough to drive 500 meters or so to a Pemex gas station where we would have been off the road.

Luis, hard at work under Sherman.

Eventually, he called a smaller tow truck with a wheel lift. He didn't think it would be able to lift Sherman, but thought it was worth a try. Only problem... Sherman's fiberglass front end stuck out more than the wheel lift could extend. 

Eventually, Luis and the second driver Leo got the base of the wheel lift under the front frame with a couple of big blocks of wood, and chained into place the little truck worked hard to lift Sherman up...

By now, it was 4:15pm, a full 28 hours after we first broke down.

They were unsure how stable it would be, and I didn't think it was very stable either. But, we would be driving very slowly. Only 28 kms (17 miles) to the mechanic shop in Juchitan.

We only drove about 100 meters and one of the pieces of wood shifted. Leo stopped immediately, and we all looked at the situation again. It turned out that the shifted piece of wood had actually lodged itself in such a way that it was more stable.

And off we went. We decided to continue all the way to Juchitan.

Turn up your volume...


We made it to the mechanic shop at 5:50pm. The sign said they closed at 5:00, but Luis had called ahead to say we were on our way.

The shop owner was there waiting for us. It's a big operation. He seemed confident that we would be back on the road quickly, but it all depends on the parts and we won't know that until he tries to find them this morning.

Luis, getting Sherman up on blocks to be worked on in the morning.

This is our parking spot for the night!

Not the nicest, but it's fairly quiet and WAY better than our night parked on the highway at the side of the road.

We can't thank Luis enough. He went way beyond what anyone would expect. And he doesn't own the tow truck company... he and Leo are just employees.

I paid the bill... 15,080 pesos ($1,050 CAD, $800 USD). Yikes! The original quote had been 12,000 pesos if no receipt was needed, or 12,000 pesos plus 16% tax if I needed a receipt. And I needed a receipt in order to claim back the $300 USD from the insurance company roadside assistance. And, they charged 1,000 pesos more for the second truck. Then, we gave Matilde a can of Canadian Maple Syrup, and a nice to tip each of Luis and Leo.

A very expensive tow job, by any standards. But, it needed to be done, and there weren't a lot of options. We were stuck!

The mechanic shop is a hive of activity this morning. They opened up at 8:00am and as I post this at 8:30am, they are already working on Sherman, and I have given the owner the model info to search for the correct parts. Now, we wait... again.

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41 comments:

  1. I don't know how you two kept your sanity! Paul would have been a nut case. I told him...what choice did you have? So glad you got off that road. We will keep you both in our prayers that you get a very speed repair. Please be safe.

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    1. I had a very slight meltdown that lasted all of 10 minutes and that was it. We didn't have a choice so we just made the best of the situation and luckily it has more or less all worked out. We are glad that we are off the road too. Hopefully the part will come in on time and then they can have us back on the road soon.

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  2. Sorry for your problem but what a great story about the people that are helping you. What kind souls.

    I had never thought about needing a tow in Mexico before. It would have been an issue with our 35 Winnie but now with a 40' diesel, hmmm. Thanks for posting this and all of your adventures.

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    1. Thanks Stephen! When you do as much traveling as we do, you realize that one day something is going to break and cause a problem. Luckily it wasn't worse than it was and we are grateful to have had Luis, Matilda and Leo helping us out.

      Kevin has always wondered how we would get towed it we ever broke down because of the front end design on Sherman. What was really needed was a bigger tow truck with the wheel lift providing it could extend out long enough.

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  3. Breaking down at the side of the road is any RVer's worst nightmare---you truly have our sympathy! Hang in there, you'll be back on your way in no time.

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    1. Yep, I would have to say that would be one of the worst nightmares for an RVer. Luckily everything worked out, maybe not as swiftly as we would have liked but it all worked out.

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  4. All right good to hear this part of the story. Hope you get on the road soon sounds like you are in good hands now. We are all waiting for your arrival in Oaxaca. It was a very wild ride to here yesterday as you probably know from past experience. We look forward to you uniting with you soon. From the Caravan.

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    1. Well you now know the full story and we are back with the group at least for a bit. Hopefully the part will come in quickly and then we can get Sherman back on the road.

      Glad we are back with you guys even if only for a bit. Hopefully we haven't put too much of a damper on things, we really want things to continue to flow smoothly for you all.

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  5. Glad that they were able to get you off the road safely and into the shop. Good luck with getting the parts and back on the road swiftly.

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  6. Glad you are safe. Your flock is nicely settled in and planning a bus trip into the city to visit some textile museums, etc. Hope to see you soon!

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    1. Sounds like they had a great time yesterday. Thank you for looking over them for us and for all the help you have provided to the group.

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  7. O my goodness! My worst nightmare. So glad you found people who can help.

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    1. It wasn't our worst nightmare, as things could have been much worse but it certainly isn't the way we had things planned. We are very thankful for Luis not wanting to give up and continue to let us sit by the side of the road. He, Matilda and Leo were fantastic and we will never forget the help that they gave to us.

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  8. Glad you are finally Safe and that Sherman will soon be back on the road.

    It's about time.

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    1. So are we, however it will take just a little longer than we had hoped to get Sherman back on the road.

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  9. So glad you guys made it safely to the mechanics and that you have so much experience traveling in Mexico (although no breakdowns previously). It's nice that you know Spanish but even nicer they sent along an English speaking helper just in case. I hope Sherman recovers speedily and that you get back on track....awaiting more Facebook updates lol (watched your feed yesterday as was worried about you guys)

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    1. We were very happy to be off the side of the road too and at the mechanics. It probably does help a little being familiar with Mexico and knowing some Spanish but Matilda was definitely a huge help to us with her translation. We could have done it but it wouldn't have be easy trying to convey the information back and forth.

      Sherman has to wait for a few days for the parts to arrive so we won't be back on the road as soon as we had hoped.

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  10. Every day a new adventure, some day you can look back and laugh right? Glad you got to the mechanic shop safe.

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    1. We have all ready looked back and laughed, there is nothing we can do about the situation so we might as well just make the best of it. :-)

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  11. Well, good to see you're off the road and about to get fixed up. Bit of a scary situation.
    I vividly recall the first (and I think "only") time I wasn't at the wheel of our RV. It felt weird. The "kids" (they're middle aged adults) wanted to borrow the RV for a few days, and I wanted to check out one of their friends who had offered to do the driving. Turns out, as he works for our "Correctional Services" and had had some practice driving prisoners to court and such, he had a good feel for driving a big unwieldy box.

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    1. Yes, we were more than happy to be off the road! Definitely not the safest place to be, that is for sure.

      This would have been the second time that Kevin has been in Sherman and not been the driver, the first time was when we lent the motorhome out to the British couple for two months almost two summers ago and Kevin let Graham drive to see how he did and give him some pointers. This time though Sherman was technically not being driven! It's still a weird feeling though.

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  12. Well... **it happens and you came out of it a little broker but otherwise OK thanks to the help you got. I love these stories as they are great ammunition to use when ignorant people speak of "lazy Mexican (workers)"

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    1. Yep, these things happen and somehow we knew that one day it would finally happen to us.

      We totally agree with you about how some people have the wrong impression of "lazy Mexican workers" from our experience they are among some of the hardest working people we have ever meet. Too bad more people can't see this or understand this. :-(

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  13. First time you've broken down on the road. Pretty good for as many years you've been on the road.

    It was great you got Luis. Could have been bad if he didn't care enough to give the extra help.

    Hope the parts come in fast and you're on your way soon.

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    1. Yep, that is what we thought. We have had a couple of issues before with a few blown tires but we were able to limp ourselves to the next location because they were on the inside dualies and the other time was the starter but we weren't on the road. So all things considered we have been very lucky indeed. A lot of that goes to Kevin though for keeping up with all the maintenance on Sherman and trying to keep him in tip-top shape.

      We are hoping the parts come in on time too because it certainly makes things harder on the caravan group.

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  14. I have to remind myself good things and good people do happen. You see I'm a pessimist by nature always have been and I imagine always will be. I use to drive everyone crazy when planning a trip and I probably still do hahaha. Anyway, glad you had lots of help and folks going out of their way to help. Waiting to hear you're back with the caravan and looking forward to another adventure from afar.

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    1. From our experience this is the case more often than not! The majority of people out there are good people, whatever country you are in.

      Well, I'm a little slow with my replies to the comments but as you know we are with the caravan group but only temporarily. Hopefully we can get back to normal soon.

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  15. Strangley enough, the wagon master for our Airstream Caravan next year had his fresh water tank fall out on the road, the same day you had your issue. I am sure glad I happen to be stationary right now. Maybe its something in the air. Hopefully you can get all fixed up before the group is scheduled to leave Oaxaca

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    1. It's definitely not fun breaking down, especially when you are the caravan leaders. Thankfully we are quick thinkers and can go with the flow. With luck we will be back with the group properly before they get too far ahead of us.

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  16. Having Luis, Matilde and Leo as your “helpers” sure was a blessing...very kind and compassionate people. This event, albeit a little scary and expensive, adds “flavour “ to your adventures! Praying everything works out and you and Sherman will be rejoining the caravan in no time. Safe travels!

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    1. We were so thankful that Luis, insisted on staying and helping us get off the road, even though he had radioed his company saying that his truck couldn't tow us and they had told him to just leave us there then. They were all wonderful people and we were so happy to have them there helping us out like they did.

      Hopefully we will get news today on the parts. Our fingers are crossed that they will show up and then we can get Sherman back on the road very soon.

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  17. In every picture of Ruth, she has a smile on her face. That is what gets us through these situations a little easier. She is a trooper. (I can only imagine you are smiling too Kevin!!) Hope you get back on the road quickly and the rest of your journey is a safe one.

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    1. That is exactly right Lorne! There is nothing you can do about it, it hurts a little but it won't drive us to the poorhouse so we might as well smile and look for that little treasure in the adventure.

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    2. I did have a very small meltdown that lasted all of 10 minutes but other than that yes, there was generally a smile on my face. As croft said you can't change your situation, only your attitude towards it.

      Hopefully the parts come in on time and they can get Sherman fixed up quickly so that we can have him back on the road.

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  18. We have several friends who took European vacations in the last year or two and each of them admitted to budgets of around a thousand dollars a day (all in). So the little mishap cost you the same as a day or two in Paris at medium priced hotels.

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    1. Well as you know a thousand dollars would last us ages even in Europe that doesn't quite float for us. I know it would last us many days in Paris because first off we would never stay in a medium priced hotel, especially in Paris! Remember we are "frugal"! :-)

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  19. Wow you both are such troopers to take all in stride. I would have been a basket case parked on the side of a road especially over night. Glad you finally got to a repair shop and hoping they can get the part installed quickly. You need to catch up with the caravan and continue your adventure. Be safe!

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    1. It certainly wasn't one of our better sleeps, that is for sure! We almost thought we were going to have to spend a second night beside the road but thankfully Luis, Matilda and Leo got us safely of the road and into a repair shop.

      With any luck the parts will come in on time, hopefully today and then Sherman will be ready to hit the road once again.

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  20. You are living one of my worst nightmares in 17 years of RVing. Hope they can get it repaired quickly and correctly:)

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    1. You are lucky to have gone 17 years, that is fantastic. We weren't all that far behind until this happened!

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