First, I think a better title would read: “How to NOT change a flat tire along a Mexican Toll Road.” But the story goes something like this…
Once upon a time on a scorching hot day, just North of Puebla, Mexico…
We were 6 hours into a 8 hour travel day, commenting on how smoothly our day had gone, when we were provided with our second lesson in changing a flat (shredded) tire alongside a Mexican toll road.
If Something Smells, it’s Probably You!
We were passing a semi-truck, when we noticed the smell of the burning rubber coming from what (we thought) were his tires. Then suddenly, we felt a little pop, which indicated it might be us who were the smelly ones. Yep, we’d blown tire. But not just one, both rear tires on the same side. Our smooth day was officially over!
Lessons Learned While Driving in Mexico
We pulled safely onto the shoulder, a few minute walk to an SOS box where we could call for help. Speaking of help, does anyone remember the lesson we learned from our first blow0ut? Well, apparently we didn’t.
La Tortuga Lesson #6: Don’t spend an hour changing your own tire along a Mexican toll road when you can call the Green Angels for FREE help.
Now, remember this lesson as you read below…
The Green Angels are like AAA in the states, only free, unless you account for the hefty tolls you pay to be on that road in the first place. I had their number in my phone after our last roadside incident, but decided walking to the call box would be the better option- because walking down the highway in 110 degree heat to stand in front of a call box for 45 minutes is definitely much faster than dialing three numbers on your cell home from the comfort of your RV.
“Revised” La Tortuga Lesson #6(a): While following lesson #6, if your cell phone isn’t dead during an emergency, use it!
Long story short, a police officer finally arrived to inform me the SOS box I had just became so acquainted with didn’t work and kindly called for help. By this time, my husband, definitely forgetting Lesson #6, had already replaced one of the two flats with our one spare.
I don’t know about you, but everything I learned in math told me these numbers didn’t add up. We couldn’t drive on one tire and when help arrived, surely they’d help us get both tires replaced, right? Well, I guess he had to do something with his time while I was hanging out at the call box.
Is There a Happy Ending?
Well, the story is probably best told over a nice cold beer but it goes something like this:
The Green Angel driver did arrive and I drove drove off down the road with him, alone, possibly to never be seen again.
(Insert dramatic music here)
No, I didn’t disappear into the depths of Mexico. But I was taken to the nearest tire shop in the next town over, where they did replace not one, but both tires! I know, it’s crazy! They even mounted and balanced them in minutes, and for less than what I’d paid for one tire in the US. And the best part? I got to explore a little town I never would have seen otherwise.
Worth it? Probably not.
About an hour later, we returned to the side of the highway to find my husband had removed the spare he’d just spent so much time installing, and he and the technician got to work installing the two new ones. I’d say it all went smoothly, but it became increasingly clear, mainly through the choice words coming from my husband’s mouth, the gentleman was no expert at changing tires.
After a few aggressive beatings on the tire by the guy to get it to line up properly, my husband quickly thanked him and sent him on his way, finishing the job himself.
And just like that, a mere five hours later, we were back on the road, with nightfall quickly approaching.
Adhering carefully to La Tortuga Lesson #2: Don’t Drive at Night, we took the first exit we came to, looking for the perfect gas station accommodations for the night. What we found instead was a truck stop/maintenance shop, where we were welcomed with open arms, bathrooms and a little Mexican fast-food joint. Now that’s 5 star Mexican camping!
We Survived Another Day in Mexico!
After settling in alongside our giant neighbors, we sat back, AC on and cold beverage in hand (Universal Lesson: Always finish a crappy day with a cold one!) we talked about the new lesson we learned that day to add to our ever-growing list:
La Tortuga Lesson #7: Never (ever) talk about how smooth your day is going while driving through Mexico until you’re safe and sound at your campsite, or at least a truck stop.
Did you catch our first experience breaking down in Mexico? If not, check it out here: