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6324 kms: Driving in Guadalajara City- a true test of our compatibility

Written on: Friday March 14th, 2008

A journal entry from: North America in our Camper Van!

I think that I?ve come up with a new match making test. It?s a sure-fire way to determine your compatibility with your partner. I could probably make millions with this? The good news is that Rob and I passed, although it was probably the most stressful, aggravating, frustrating thing we?ve ever been through- driving (and getting lost) in Guadalajara City.

It all started when we decided that we really needed to solve the overheating issues that we seemed to still be having and we had been told that Guadalajara was the best place to find good diesel mechanics. The caretaker at our campsite, which was located just on the outskirts of Guadalajara, recommended a diesel mechanic he trusted and knew well. The directions seemed quite simple: ?Get on Av. Vallarta, turn left on Av. Jesus Maria and right on Camino Real? it should take you about 30 minutes?. With the GPS in hand, I felt comfortable that we could find the place, especially since the GPS coverage was supposed to be quite good in the major cities. I was really starting to like the GPS. With the street signage being so poor and the street names written so small, it was almost impossible to make a turn in time. The GPS would happily announce: ?(street name), ahead? as we approached an intersection which would save me from squinting and hectically looking for a name so that I could direct Rob. I compared street names with the GPS name until I felt comfortable that it knew what it was doing. We made it Av. Vallarta no problem and awaited our signal to turn. Our leisure soon ended when suddenly we realized that we were no longer on Av. Vallarta and we hadn?t found our turn off. Should we turn around? We decided to keep going for a bit until we realized that we must be in the wrong place. Time to turn around? except for it wasn?t quite so easy. After several traffic circles and very odd intersections we were starting to get our directions mixed up. To top it off, traffic was getting really heavy, almost bumper to bumper and the driving rules (if any?) are very different. When stopped at a red light, the guy on your right often pulls in front of you to turn left (yes, it is very weird). After what seemed like a long time, a few hairpin turns, and numerous honks directed at us, we made it back onto Vallarta, heading the opposite direction. Our luck came when stopped at an intersection someone was selling maps (they sell everything at traffic intersections). He came up to my window and had both the Mexican Highways Map (which we had planned on buying) as well as a detailed map of Guadalajara. Rob said ?buy both? but my split second decision was to only buy the Mexican highway map and save us 15$, surely the highway map would have a map of Guadalajara. And as we drove off, frustration mounted as I realized that the Guadalajara map included was not detailed enough to help us. By now it was 1 o?clock, we were hungry, and the sun was beating down on us relentlessly. With the windows rolled down the traffic smog choked us but the alternative was unbearable as well. Again, we could not find our turn off. Rob was getting really grumpy and I was starting to feel faint, finally we decided to simply pull over. I hailed down a pedestrian, pulled out my Spanish and asked for help. Good thing is that they seemed to know of the street we were looking for. ?Take a quick left and then a quick right, keep going straight and once you pass Av Nino Heroes, the next street is Av. Jesus Maria??. is what I understood. We headed off and were excited when we hit Av Nino Heroes. We were ready to turn when the GPS announced: ?Next intersection- San Juan?. San Juan?!? Where is Jesus Maria? We turned anyway and stopped again on the side of the street. ?I?m going to buy us that stupid map!? Rob said as he jumped out of the van and headed into a nearby store. When he came back empty handed we were ready to just go home and forget about the mechanic. It was two o?clock now, we?d been driving in the city for nearly four hours. Nearly defeated, I meekly suggested that perhaps I should go ask the shop attendant where Av Jesus Maria was. Off I went. Can you believe my surprise (and utter hate for the GPS) when the shop attendant told me that we were on Av Jesus Maria. From there it took us two minutes to find the mechanic shop. The irony is that the only street that was mislabeled in the GPS was the street that we were looking for.

Nacho (short for Ignacio) was the name of our mechanic. They were able to pressure test the system and found no leaks. Nacho recommended that we replace the engine coolant with one with a higher boiling point. Unfortunately, the high temp coolant is very expensive and we left there three hours later with 300$ less in our pockets.


From Annette on Mar 29th, 2008

So from now on if we hear the expression from you guys that you're in a "Guadalajara mood" we should get you some food and some maps?? Sounds pretty easy to me!!

From Adam on Apr 1st, 2008

Nice job! We got drunk and hung over in G-town and nearly got towed when the greaser wouldn't start (wire loose) and nearly had a nightmare in Guadalejara too. But instead we had a lot of tequila and a "level 8" driving experience (with practice we finished the game). I hope the cooling system can survive the strong instinct _not_ to turn on the defroster when it's already screaming hot! Love a diesel.