Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stuff in the car.... then even more stuff.


Hello My name is Tancho and I am a packer.......

One of my weaknesses is that I pack the car to extremes. This probably comes from years of crossing the border, waiting for the green light to glow like a warming smile, welcoming me to bring down useless bobbles and trinkets only valuable to me.....

I learned to pack the car from necessity. When we were building the house I use to bring down stuff from hinges to electrical circuit breakers, lamp sockets to radio links used to control our multiple attempts of water to pump controls over the years.

I learned to utilize every little nook an cranny of the car. From the small areas between the fold down seats to the spaces underneath the seats and next to the car jack storage places was occupied with parts or items.

One of my times that I was unfortunate to get the red light years ago, the agent gave up as I kept taking stuff out of the car.....they allowed us to continue with the aid of some spare change for a refresco.

This packing syndrome turned against me sort of with being rear ended.

I was pretty proud of utilizing all those tiny spaces in the car. Since we were leaving for multiple weeks with family and friends to entertain. My favorite libations, refrescos and items like bitters and special ice cube trays would make my life more enjoyable.

Since we were meeting friends from NOB, there were small trinkets and gifts that were packed for filling their stockings that would end up being hung with care at their prospective haunts.

Our car is not a large SUV but Honda classifies it as a mid SUV.

About 20 seconds after the flying shards of glass rested down around the roadway, clothes and places unimaginable, my thoughts came to my carefully packed items.
Crap.....

First of all their was no way except a cutting torch or the jaws of life to open the rear hatch of the car. It almost looked like the rear was one cast piece of metal and I know that it was going to be almost impossible to retrieve a lot of the stuff.

In fact as I mentioned before , in my positive denial of the situation, I had thought that a simple crowbar prying would release the crumpled rear of the car against the tire allowing us to proceed someone impaired but manageable to get back on the road quickly.

I was wrong.

We also had the realization that somehow, a fully packed SUV with two dogs, three adults with suitcases, coolers, provisions would be easy to transport to our next destination.

I also knew that we would have to spend the night in Guadalajara one way or another.

I also knew that all that stuff would not fit into one of the normal small subcompact tiny teeny weeny cabs.
We probably had enough stuff to fill three of those vehicles.

One of insurance guys sprung to attention and said he had a friend who had a van that would take us to the hotel for the night.

In the meantime we were still in limbo, not knowing if we were going to have our car and the tractor trailer impounded since our insurance didn't want to assume the command and take control.

We couldn't believe that this story was unfolding the way it was. We had done everything right. Had valid insurance, had a licensed driver operating the vehicle, and we even paid for the toll.

How could it be possible that our car would be impounded along with the perpetrator of the accident. Why would we have to be inconvenienced even more by not even having our car repaired and items replaced?
Why would we have to stay in Guadalajara, go to the Public Minister to have to prove the cost of the car, provide the original bill of sale, provide all the original bill of sales for the damaged items.

Why should we have to be available to multiple appointments to have to justify all of those things?
"Because that is how the procedure works in Mexico" Was the input from everyone, from the insurance guy to the police....

Impossible......that just doesn't sound right......so I called our insurance agent.

They said, they were helpless. We had to go by what the agent or the adjuster told us.
At this point he was trying to weasel out of the responsibility which we assumed was part of the insurance process.
( Now I know why most of our Mexican friends don't have insurance and laugh at us for spending our money buying insurance.)
I asked if a rental car was part of the policies benefits.

"Only if you purchased that option was the answer"......Gee thanks, I guess that answer is NO.

So at this point we had hovered around the car for 3 or 4 hours. We found out that we were only about half way trough our nightmare.

It was about then that I notice liquid dripping out of the rear of the car. On the positive side I knew it was not the radiator leaking.
In my packing I had packed a few bottle of our favorite tequila. Couple of one liter bottles of a new refresco that I had been turned on to by a friend in Mazatlan, some bottles of Tonic water, and a few bottles of regular water. They were all in a place that prevented me from retrieving any of them. I am sure that the auto body guys will probably have a great lunch time when they pry off the rear hatch....

It was time for the tow truck to be called. The insurance guy called. They showed up about 15 minutes later. One for the truck that hit us and one for us.
The only problem is that truck for our car was a regular tow wrecker. The Honda needs to be towed on a flat bed trailer type truck.

I doubled checked the owners manual and verified that fact.

I told the driver of the truck that. He kept working on adjusting his truck to hook up our car.
I told him again that the car had to be towed on a flat bed truck....because the drive train would be damaged.

He kept readying the carriage to hook up.

Could it be my Spanish was not good? I told my wife to tell him that he could not tow the vehicle that way. Same response....

He kept readying it, lowering the boom, adjusting the hooks to match the location of the tires.

What? How hard is it to understand that they need the flat bed truck?

Finally I told one of the policemen that I wanted him to stop the guy from hooking up and he went over to him and told him, just as he was sliding his body under the front with a chain and big hook.

Great , that's all we need, they get the car to be fixed, only to find out that after it's repaired we will have drive train or transmission issues because some lackey doesn't get it, that some cars cannot be towed that way.
He stopped after the policeman talked to him.

So now we having to wait for the flat bed truck to come. In the mean time we are starting to remove any and all the stuff from the car that we can get out. Our bags, tool box, boxes of dog food, clothes, gifts that we were bringing for our friends.
Keys, miscellaneous items like flashlights, gate openers, books, sunglasses.......you get the picture.

It was about that time that the insurance man came over and said that we could tow the car to the Honda dealership, since the owner of the truck somehow came up with either an insurance policy or bond of some sort. Neither vehicle will have to be impounded.

That was good news, because Mexican impound lots have the reputation of being used car parts depots.
We told the new tow truck operator to take it to the Honda dealer. The insurance adjuster told us that we needed to go to the dealership and make arrangements to have them check out the vehicle tomorrow.

More to follow.....

12 comments:

Felipe Zapata said...

Lordy, Tancho, reading how you pack to travel conjures up only one image: a crazy old woman.

But thanks for the info on towing the Honda since I have the same car. I did not know about it having to be towed on a flat-bed truck.

JerryL said...

Well, in the interest of liquid gold, did you take a sample of the liquid spilling out of the car? Hopefully it wasn't tequila!

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh, what a nightmare! can't wait to hear how it all ended. i am sure you kept a positive attitude and that all ended well. i try to remain positive but sometimes get very frustrated just dealing with our german appliances, yes, german appliances in japan. i do better in more difficult situations like the time we were almost in a head on collision in sicily. i was so grateful to be alive that i kept really calm. my husband, who is usually the calm and cool one kept telling me to tell the italian guy that he almost killed us. looking forward to the rest of the story.

take care tancho.

teresa en nagoya

Calypso said...

"One of my weaknesses is that I pack the car to extremes."

Gee I have always consider that one of my strengths ;-)

Interesting point about having insurance. The thought that it is pretty much useless has crossed my mind - so far your story seems to support some of that thinking. But we will wait for the rest of the story.

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Lordy, lordy, lordy. sigh

Will you divulge who your insurance company is? Or did I miss it. . .
Sounds like the agent is doing his job it's just the system that is #%&*ed. Nothing new there.

Can't wait to read more.

Leah said...

Anyone we've known in Mexico w/insurance has a story to support the idea that it is useless. Glad we never bought it.

Also glad I am not dealing with "this is the way things are in Mexico" right now. Pregnancy does not inspire much patience. Good luck with this mess!

Felipe Zapata said...

I'm seeing more and more comments here about the "uselessness" of auto insurance in Mexico.

You Tancho were not at fault in this accident.

Were a Gringo without insurance be deemed the cause of an accident that entailed fatalities, the chances are very high that long-term prison would be in that Gringo's future. I say it's nuts to drive down here without insurance though many of the locals do it.

You people are not the locals.

Be a cool day in Hades when I drive without insurance.

Tancho said...

Jerry, I did after awhile run my finger through the wetness on the asphalt and saw that it was some Cedral which is a Mexican soda having an apple flavor to it.
Teresa, I was amazed that neither I nor La Senora were running around screaming at the driver who did all the damage. I think it was the fact that we walked away from the incident that was allowing us to keep perspective. Besides it take a lot to get me to become a screamer. It just shows that one has little control of oneself. I think the Japanese culture is a good example.
Calypso, Ok, it is not a weakness but wise use of space. However others would consider us weird....
Marilyn,Leah and Felipe, Insurance is one of those love/hate relationships. One hates it until one needs it, even though there are weaknesses that 90% of our Mexican locals describe and swear against spending money, Felipe's not being a local has a lot of validity to it. Had I not had any, even though it wasn't my fault, there would be an excellent chance that I would have been detained for some time.
Not having the proper skin pigment and "connections" will make me have to purchase that dubious instrument. Besides, the locals don't have as much to lose as we Gringos do......(in my opinion).
Felipe, we also have little better and newer cars than the majority of the locals do. If I was driving the average car, I may consider the option...perhaps, but probably not.

Felipe Zapata said...

Tancho: The condition, newness, whatever of the car is not the issue.

Prison is the potential issue.

A foreigner here is nuts not to have liability insurance, which is what I am talking about. Liability coverage!

Coverage for theft, damage to your own car is another ball of wax entirely.

Tancho said...

Felipe,
Based on what I have noticed, I don't think any of the locals give a damn about liability especially since what they own is so convoluted. On the other hand responsible individuals always do the right and honorable thing and worry about having insurance.
In reality I have never heard of anyone being put away for any accidents, possibly because they were able to have it "taken care of" by friends...
And yes, I agree with you 100% about a foreigner having insurance since "the bite" would be endless if they didn't.

Anonymous said...

Glad that it sounds like things are working out for you, sort of. My feeling is that insurance here or in Mexico is basically like Las Vegas, a crap shoot. H ave had both good and bad experiences with companies, but it always seems that the insured gets the short end of the stick, sometime the stick winds up somewhere where it doesn't feel good.
HD in Fla.

Anonymous said...

Hola Tancho,
This story continues to amaze me. I can see how having collision, theft etc. insurance does not insulate one from the labyrinth of Mexican systems. I can't believe that the adjuster and your insurance company were so useless. It seems that the burden of proof is thrust firmly onto the victim there. That must incredibly frustrating. I also see Felipe's point very clearly. The potential consequences of a gringo not having liability insurance are too grim to contemplate. Long term prison is not a good retirement option. Anywhere. I am still amazed that everyone in your vehicle walked away, literally. this convivces me that insurance will be a must have, but a new truck, maybe not so much. I Can't wait to read the rest. Please take care.
-ac-