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Whalesharks, Angels & Alternators

So, time for a new alternator perhaps?  Why now???

What started as a relaxing morning at the lovely Tribu Hostel in Holbox, ended up being a circus adventure of mechanics, taxis, hitchhiking, fellow Canadians, and many wonderful Mexicans – all coming together to get AdventureSpeirs back on the road!

We were about 20 minutes out of Holbox where we’d spent the past two days snorkelling with Whale Sharks!  (but that’s another story) and I noticed my battery light was on.   Mildly interested, I kept my eye on it and as though we had driven into an alternative dimension, one by one my gauges dropped off – fuel, speedometer, temperature and battery – all DEAD!

I knew I had about a quarter tank of gas so thought I’d keep going to the next town…not happening…we were dead in the water, just barely able to pull to the sidewalk in the tiny town of Solferino.


I grabbed our jumper cables and our gas can, thinking we’d at least find a gas station and could possibly communicate to someone what help we thought we needed.  1/2 block away, we meet Giovanni – who appears to own a fairly successful looking construction company.  While Giovanni brings one of his dump trucks around and tries to jump start the van, we are joined by a very well spoken fellow from Toronto!  Davey, who suffers from cerebral palsy, and is at first somewhat difficult to understand, becomes our Angel for the day!  He and his mother had moved here 7 years ago and he speaks perfect English and Spanish…AND everyone in town knows him!

Jump starting is unsuccessful and it is decided that the battery is either toast or the alternator, but either way, there is no one in Solferino who can help, and we must go 30km sought to Kantunilkin to an electrical mechanic and bring him back to work on the van.

Double Crap!

We have now gratefully adopted 27 year old Davey as our translator and tour guide for the day – turns out to be great fun and VERY helpful!

Picture the three of us on the main street out of town, waiting for a taxi, and I impetuously stick out my thumb as a black Escalade nears us.  He stops!  We all get in!  And 30 minutes later not only are we dropped right to the center of Kantunilkin  –  our destination town, but I’ve compiled a complete list of places to go and things to see in all places between here and USA!  Turns out our driver works for one of the resorts in Playa del Carmen and is very familiar with the local and national tourist attractions.

As we disembark from the Escalade the skies open up and we are soaked by a torrential and sudden rain storm!  Water literally past our ankles in some areas!

Davey sloshes through the street to get us a tricycle taxi, who then pedals us through the deluge, through 6″ deep puddles and right to the mechanic’s house/shop.
With Davey’s help, the discussion results in the four of us (Sam, me, Davey and now the mechanic) two spare batteries and six cold beers hailing a taxi to take us back to Solferino.

Our mechanic, Wero, quickly changes out the batteries, we grab warm, doughy  pizza and cold beer from the nearest tienda, and drive back another 30 minutes to his shop.

From here it’s like watching a gritty, but wonderful Mexican ballet!  His nephew is immediately under the hood of the van, taking out the battery, and the alternator, just in case.  Wero’s comment is that he wants to be able to check everything, and preferably quickly in case he needs parts before the local automotive store is closed.

By this time Davey and Sam are becoming fast friends and have set themselves up in the van, sharing music and videos on their computers (Davey grabbed his from home on our way out…just in case!)

Funniest thing though, is the ‘mobile bakery’!  One of Wero’s friends is hanging around chatting and I cheekily ask him why he’s not working.  He responds with a grin, leads me to the back of his fairly beat up car, pops the trunk and there before us is a cornecopia of delicious fresh pastries and breads!  Many still warm (from the engine???).

We all dig in for sweets to have with our beers – VIVA Mexico!!

Within a few hours, we’re up and running – turns out it wasn’t actually the alternator but the regulator?? in the alternator???  (what do I know?)  We drive Davey back to Solferino and hit the road for a very late 2 hour drive into Valladolid…What a day!!!

To our absolute delight – Hostel Candelaria was here waiting for us in beautiful Valladolid…our new home for a few days, that turned into 2 weeks.

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