Since we had to fly out of Hermosillo for my brother’s wedding in Cancun, we hoped to leave our truck at the airport. But the airport parking rumors were discouraging. One person believed it was $20 a day… another thought it was $80 a day. That’s dollars, not pesos. Everyone agreed it was expensive, but no one knew for sure just HOW expensive. We could not obtain a concrete answer from the almighty internet. So we asked the experts…
The Info Net
Every morning at 8am there is a San Carlos VHF radio net for cruisers. Since most cruisers seem to be hibernating this time of year, the San Carlos net typically lasts about 3 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minute La Paz radio show with a couple hundred boats listening in. A typical radio net consists of boat check-ins (saying your boat name over the radio to let others know you are listening – or not, if you want to remain anonymous) and a brief weather and tide report. It also gives cruisers the opportunity to state announcements, request rides or crew, indicate lost or found items, and request ‘local assistance’. So we asked the 6 other listening cruisers for recommendations as to where to stay and parking in Hermosillo. Thankfully, we actually got an answer: Holiday Inn Express would let us keep our car in their guarded lot for free for the week with one night’s reservation. Perfect - I’m all about killing two birds with one stone.
We can’t say enough about the Holiday Inn Express – Hermosillo (not to be confused with the normal Holiday Inn a few blocks away). For about $70/night, it rivals any standard business-class hotel in the States: clean rooms, great shower, working toilets (big plus in Mexico), big screen TV, nice exterior (tiny) pool/breakfast area, free breakfast with fresh fruit, eggs, yogurt, bacon, potatoes, etc… and of course the free parking AND a free shuttle to the airport (not from – you have to take a taxi back for a flat fee of 165 pesos). But the kicker is their service…
We reserved two nights at HIE, book-ending our Cancun trip. After arriving via airport taxi on a Saturday at 5pm, we were excited to see our bright red truck still in the parking lot. Yay, it’s not stolen! Disaster averted. We breathed a small sigh of relief. Ahhh, but we sighed too soon.
Upon check-in we noticed our back tire was flat.
Flat Tire...I WISH it was the beer
Crap. We asked the front desk if anyone could help. Their maintenance guy, Joel (who spoke better English than the reception folks after living in Roanoke of all places), came to the rescue with an air compressor. After about 15 minutes of it not working properly, he persisted, got it running and blew up our tire. Yay! But we weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of driving an hour and a half across an empty desert with a slow leak. There’s usually a REASON why a tire is flat, even though we couldn’t readily find the source.
But tomorrow was Sunday and we feared nothing would be open. Joel knew of a tire place and actually offered to take us there to translate. After getting permission to leave work to help us, he jumped in the truck with Brian and off they went. At 6pm the ‘llantera’ had just closed up shop and waved them away. But Joel pleaded with them to stay open just a few minutes longer. They relented, found the culprit nail and sealed up our leak. For a mere 50 pesos - that’s a little over $3! Joel graciously refused our offer of a tip and we are grateful for Holiday Inn Express for letting him out of work to help us. He should get a raise. If I ever have to fly out of Hermosillo again, I will only stay at the HIE. Period.
Thought of the day: If you were at a hotel in the US, in the same situation but reversed, speaking broken English like a 3-yr old, and bewildered as to where in the world do I find a good place to fix my tire, and how am I going to communicate that…yes, someone would try and give you directions, but do you think anyone would offer to go WITH you to the tire place to make sure you found it and translate? Never.
Full disclosure: We were a little taken aback with the offer and, well, a little hesitant to just drive off with a stranger. Not to mention, typical llanteras (tire stores) here are nothing like your normal Discount Tire shop in the States, their showroom sporting rows of shiny, new BF Goodrich tires smelling of Armour-All. From street-level, most have the appearance of a junk dealer, displaying decades-old, crooked, hand-written signs stating the obvious: “Llantera”. Hmmm, I can’t tell from the stacks of old, rotting tires lining the grimy, seedy-looking storefront several feet high. None seem to want to advertise sparkly NEW tires, just the bad ones they remove. I always feared going to a store like that meant you wouldn’t get NEW tires… you’d end up with yours ‘appropriated’.
But our wariness was unfounded. Unfortunately, we are burdened with a mentality to not instinctively trust our neighbors. The US news portrays Mexico as a warzone (listening to news of the States, it actually sounds worse up there). Bad things DO happen in Mexico; I’ve heard first-hand accounts of attempted robberies and thwarted ambushes that make us vigilant. But these instances are rare and crime happens worldwide. So, you trust your “spidey-sense” and hope for the best.
I’ll take you there…
This man, not knowing us from Adam, realizing we were perplexed, found us a solution and made it happen… personally. We are blown away by his kindness in helping a complete stranger. But the longer we stay here, the more we experience this unique trait.
Like my nurse Anjelica who rode with us in the car to the La Paz hospital carrying my IV…
Or our Spanish instructor who refused to call us a taxi, and instead drove us to my emergency eye appointment, escorting me inside to verify they understood the urgency…
Or the security guard at Marina Palmira who called his friend at home, asking him to come drive us back to our boat at 11pm on Christmas Eve when no taxis were available (yeah, we gave him a big tip)…
The Mexican people have shown us a different side of humanity… willing not just to give directions, or dismiss you as “not my problem”… but to actually “take us there”. How human.