We had limped back to town with the back bumper of the Boler trailer tied to the back bumper of the Ford truck. (Luckily, Gary had thought to bring along rope from home.) We had made it back from no man’s land. But now what? Our trailer frame was almost broken through near the hitch. Something had to be done. Parked on the side of the road near the main highway where Mex 1 passes through Cardenas, we sat in the truck and made a plan.
“You stay with the truck,” Gary said, “and I’ll go look for a welding shop.” He hopped onto the trail bike and buzzed down the main street. About ten minutes later he was back.
“Four blocks down the road,” he said. “A brake repair shop has welding equipment. They’ll fix the trailer tomorrow morning.”
That night we parked across from the brake shop, in front of a small high school. I didn’t sleep much as cars and trucks careened past at all hours of the night, some on the highway, but mostly the locals doing their Friday night partying (except that it was a Sunday night), hooting and yelling in Spanish, car radios turned up full blast with speakers booming out the music—the accordion and trumpet giving it that unmistakable Mexican flavour. With each passing vehicle I sat up in bed to peek through the curtains to make sure they kept going. Not an ideal camping spot.
As the yahooing lessened in the wee hours of the morning, the barking of dozens of dogs throughout the neighbourhood, punctuated by the odd male voice barking back at them to shut up, kept us awake for the rest of that long night. We were glad when daylight came and we could drag the Boler over to the welding shop.
The young man who worked on our trailer frame for most of the day was more Indio than Spanish and his speech reflected the heavy dialect of the region. I had only taken a few months of Spanish lessons at the time and had a hard time understanding him. After a few attempts at conversation I left him to his work. He liked his job. He pounded and cut and welded and all the while he sang some kind of opera-like arias that I didn’t recognize. All day he pounded and welded, and all day he sang.
When the work was finished, the frame looked good and strong. He told us the price in his very hard to understand Indio-dialect Spanish. “Fifteen hundred pesos.”
We were shocked.
In those days, twelve years ago, the difference between the U.S. and Canadian dollar was huge, and the peso’s exchange rate reflected that. But nothing could explain why it cost 1500 pesos. We were reeling. 1500 pesos would mean about $300 Cdn., a lot of money for an unexpected expense.
Gary said, “Ask him how much in American dollars.”
The young man did some figuring and wrote in the dirt, $63.
We were happy to pay him right away. Later it dawned on me why there was such a difference in the price. His English was minimal and when he said fifteen hundred pesos, he meant 500 pesos. With the exchange that worked out exactly to U.S.$63.
“If we hadn’t asked again, we would have paid three times as much,” Gary said.
“I know,” I agreed. “Too much for people who pull Bolers.”