When we left San Miguel de Allende after being parked still for 6 months we knew we'd be starting another adventure full of issues, stories and breakdowns. But we had no idea how much all of that would happen on day one!
We spent the night in a mall parking lot, however we neglected to realize it was a Saturday night at a mall during December/Christmas shopping season... getting into the mall parking lot took a lot of finagling, caused a lot of stress and involved 6-10 security guards. It's one of those parking lots that once you are committed there's no going backwards/getting out.
We were then asked for a bribe ($5 USD) to stay the night.
In the morning we woke to find a volcano out our windows and we knew we needed to attend to Becky's health.
Becky and the rest of us has been sick for quite sometime with a respiratory cold. Most of us had pulled through in time to do a few last minute goodbyes however we shortened our list from 30 things we wanted to do before leaving SMA to about 10. It's a bummer that we couldn't see everyone again and that we had been sick, but we were now on our way.
Except that Becky's cough had grown worse. Here in Mexico some pharmacies will give antibiotics over the counter, but they've been tightening the screws on that so while I had checked three different pharmacies we couldn't get any antibiotics without a doctors prescription. We had a feeling her cold had turned into severe bronchitis or pneumonia.
So we stopped at an ER thinking they would just give us a prescription for antibiotics and send us on our way. Turns out , however, that the ER Doctor was bored on a Sunday morning and refused to write us a script saying she needed to be admitted and it could take 10 days for her in the hospital.
I was a bit shocked as this is not normal Mexican treatment but then I realized we chose the best hospital in a very large very metropolitan city. There was little difference between this hospital and one you'd find in Michigan, so after some discussion we submitted to their treatment/testing plan and while we were proven correct, it took 5 hours for them to agree with us and send us "home" with an antibiotic prescription. During that time Becky had blood work, urinalysis, Chest x-ray, IV, 6 breathing treatments, and compression treatments. Total bill was $500 USD, which initially seems high, but that's for all of the testing, 5 hours in an ER bed and 10+ doses of medication and a ten day supply of antibiotics. So we're still thankful that we have affordable health care here in Mexico. Yes this was a private hospital and yes we paid cash for it. I cannot imagine what that bill would be in the US, we typically estimate about 10% is what the Mexican health care system cost... so I assume this would have been around $5,000 in the US.
Once that was done we were back on the road, while we got a late start we decided to keep going and see how far we got before dark fall. We covered a lot of ground but Becky was not feeling well. It was a combination of the drugs she received from the hospital and the take home antibiotics. She was down for the count laying in the back of the RV for the remainder of the day.
There were some significantly poor roads and due to the road having a hump in it Gracie actually got her front wheels off of the ground while we were going about 60 MPH. It was quite jarring and concerning to all of us. We found out later that we had indeed bent some parts when doing that which made the rest of the ride for the next two days pretty awful.
We also hit a section of road where the potholes were so bad we couldn't go more than 40 MPH and still were swerving all over the road trying (unsuccessfully) to miss them. Those bad roads set us up for many failures over the next few days as we continued our journey to Merida.
First we blew out a tire on the inside of our dually axle. No worries as we have two tires there, so when we saw the next tire shop (there are tons of them here in Mexico) we pulled over and paid the guy $4 USD to remove the rest of the rubber so as to not cause further damage. This is the third tire blow out on Gracie we've had and so we decided to buy new tires for the remaining wheels when we got to Merida.
Unfortunately we waited a day too long.
The next day we blew out a front tire. It was one of our greatest fears as we have 6 wheels in the back of Gracie, but in the front we only have two, and if one goes then you loose steering but the front of your rig digs into the pavement and you're pretty likely to turn and roll. So we had been very nervous about safety in the event of a front tire blowout.
Fortunately we were able to pull over and started making phone calls to our insurance which has roadside assistance. We also called the Green Angels who patrol/help people on toll roads in Mexico. Turns out neither could help because I didn't have a spare tire and we were too big to tow anywhere.
Fortunately another traveling family in an RV had stopped to see if we needed help, so he took me to the next village where we found a tire shop with a used tire that would fit. I was concerned about the tire but I only needed to drive another 2 hours to Merida where we were going to purchase new tires. The closest place to purchase a new tire was indeed Merida.
So with a lot of really awkward spanglish I was able to convince the guy to drive back to Gracie, remove the rim/tire and bring it to his shop replace the tire and drive me back to Gracie with the used tire on the rim. I found out later that in this area Spanish is mixed with Mayan for almost a new language, which is why communication was so difficult.
We got back on the road and we were good to go, however an hour later that used tire blew out (AGAIN!). It was now almost dark and I was getting really frustrated, but I knew what to do this time and took the rim/tire off of Gracie and asked a guy to take me to a tire shop... this guy was great and took me almost to Merida for a new tire from a Goodyear shop. Ironically this is the same shop we returned to the next day to purchase an additional three tires (so now we have 6 new tires on Gracie and two spares for the two old ones on the tag axle).
We finally pulled into Costco's parking lot to boondock quite late, but we were in Merida! Becky was getting better, each day she had more energy and her cough was diminishing.
Due to the front tire blow out (twice!) we had some damage to the wiring, and we knew we needed repair work done on Gracie for other things (that needed a larger city) so we spent a couple days at the repair shops, tires, brakes and some wiring. Thankfully, Ed's Automotive, Inc. does Lynchburg car repair.
We also had a lot of plans for last minute things we needed to purchase for our Christmas celebration, some of it were gifts but most of it was food (thus Costco!) So here are some shots of the funner times in Merida (aka those times we weren't sitting in a repair shop)
Our last night in Merida found Alia, myself, Thys and Zander all getting sick. One of our nightmares happened when Thys from his bunkbed turned away from his puke pan and projectile vomitted on Becky in our bed below him. NOT a fun experience!
I do have to say, Becky did an amazing job keeping it all together while still not 100% she took care of her sickies and cleaned up after us.
The next day we left Merida for an airbnb that we rented on the beach for ten days. You might think the Gracie troubles and the sicknesses would be done... but then you'd be wrong. Stay tuned to hear how 6 months of planning went down the toilet.
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