Thursday, March 29, 2018

What Happened? We're Back Home!

Tuesday morning we had a great start.  We headed out early, well-equipped and ready to roll.  We headed down the highway to Linares where we take the right turn to head over the mountain pass to San Roberto and on to Hwy 57 excited about meeting up with Ruth and Kevin at a national park.

Singing along with the radio we headed up the mountains thinking about stopping for tacos at the top before heading back down towards Coahuila.   Then it happened.   The engine simply shut down.  No warning, no alarms, and no flashing dashboard lights.   Dead silence as we were climbing at 4500 feet.  

There we were, on a curvy mountainous road, no shoulders and very few pull outs.   Not a sound could be heard.   I knew then it wasn't good but what else can you do.  Emergency procedures kick in.  We both jumped out, one ran out ahead and the other out towards the back.  With switchbacks, you can see traffic coming and going.   Flagging drivers around from both sides an old rickety pickup stopped dead in the middle of the road and a young guy asked what was wrong.  They pulled their 79 pickup around, strapped us up and pulled us to the first turnout.  They started to get things going saying that the SUV had overheated.  I told them we got a light saying it was an acceleration sensor failure.  They cooled us down, checked fuses, added water, etc. and off we went. 

Five kilometers later the SUV failed again.  This time it was at the steepest part of the route.  I attempted to roll back to get closer to the side of the road but now the front of the SUV was in the opposite lane.   Here come the highway crew that fills the potholes.  They had one guy jump out to direct traffic and they turned around to go get help.  In the meantime, around a sharp curve comes a semi and he comes right at me.  I'm like, what the heck!  And he stops three feet in front of the SUV.  He jumps out and asks if I speak Spanish.   He pulls out a strap and says he's going to pull me forward with him in reverse to get me off to the side.   He did just that.  Wouldn't accept any money and said he would also send for help.

What next?  Here come the Iturbide police in two patrol pickups (patrullas).  They get to work directing traffic.   A semi attempts to pass and almost takes off the side mirror but he backs up and then gets past us.  Here comes a commercial size truck that makes deliveries to OXXO stores.  The police stop him and tell him that he will strap us up and take us to the next town, Galeana, and drop us off.  They did as told.  Not only did they tow us, the police escorted us to Galeana.  They dropped us off and we were on our own.

We were parked at what is called El Entronque de Galeana, the intersection of Galeana and the highway.  We were four meters from the side of the road.   A taco stand was there along with a gas station and an OXXO and they offered us help.  People poured out of the woodwork to help us.  We found three mechanics and all said it was exactly as the book said, the acceleration sensor.  

Remember that this is Semana Santa and everything is closed from Thursday until Easter Sunday.  Obviously, there are no parts where we were.   We called Autozone in Linares and they confirmed they could get the part but we had to pay in advance in person.  We pulled out the big gun and asked to speak to a manager and told him that an HR manager was a good friend of ours.  Deal done, part ordered.  We would have to take a bus down the mountain and come back risking that that was truly the problem.  One mechanic never called us back.   He called at 9:30 p.m. and said he was on his way and asked if we needed water or blankets.  It gets cold in Galeana in March.  They showed up at 10:30 p.m. and as I told Croft, they reminded us of the Car Show guys from NPR radio (I think that's their name).  They cracked jokes the whole time, using their laptops and tablet to diagnose the problem.  Sure enough, the sensor was bad but he thought he could fool the computer to get us limping.   At midnight the SUV started.   They followed us down the mountain yesterday, limping along in first gear at 20 km per hour.

We headed for our spot at the resort we belong to in Montemorelos and spent the night.   This morning, we headed home, driving 60 km per hour.  Safe and sound.  Waiting until Monday to get the SUV diagnosed and operational again.  

Mexicans are awesome!


  1. Aaawww that is too bad that you broke down but on the bright side you're home. Now just have to wait and see about diagnosis and parts.

  2. Another exciting adventure with the Chris & Juan Show! We are happy all ended as well as it did. You live a charmed life! Thanks for the call tonight, it was great hearing from you!

  3. Good grief! What awesome people are in Mexico, all so willing to lend a hand. Hopefully the car will be roadworthy soon.

  4. I agree with Croft. You do indeed lead a charmed life. I was on the edge of my seat wondering at the outcome. So very many people went above and beyond to help you. Hopefully the mechanical issue will be resolved quickly. Hugs to you both.

  5. Yeah, people in Mexico are SOOOO nice. It's amazing. If you'd gotten stuck NOB, hundreds of cars would have just driven by. Annoyed that you made them pull around you. In México, people really know how to pull together. Not only is there there the example of your post, but the September earthquake in CDMX saw thousands of citizens pull of their sleeves and help to excavate the trapped.

    ¡Viva Mexico!


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we seldom take a long trip without a scanner and a box of tools.

    1. P.S. When I did my 2014 Mexico Road Trip, I tried to help out stranded motorists as much as possible. It's great karma to spread the love!

    2. In the US, 75% of the people passing would have their gun in easy reach just waiting for you to make a suspicious move, like waiving for them to stop.

  6. Chris and Juan it......Glad you guys are home safe!!! What an adventure...Marilyn

  7. Do an online search for bluetooth OBD2 adapters and for apps you can put in your phone - I got an Ozzy Gear from Amazon and then put Torque Pro in my phone - now you have a diagnostics scanner and can read the codes - you can also clear some codes which may get you going again - total cost under $30 - and you have a new toy to play with on your phone.

  8. Mercy! What an adventure. And not of the best kind, yet in other ways it turned out to be. And until a few minutes ago I still thought you'd be pulling in tomorrow or Tuesday. So glad you're safe! Obviously the universe didn't want you traveling right now. For Mercury being in retrograde you did really well with all the help. Absolutely Viva Mexico!