Our truck is 26 years old. It is a Jeep pickup and one tough vehicle. In fact, it’s the oldest vehicle still operating down here on this Atlantic coast, a place with punishing salt air that plays havoc with metal and all things electrical.
Or, I should say, it was operating until the Saturday before New Year’s Eve.
We’d gone off to the local Farmer’s Market, collected organic vegetables, milk, cheese, eggs, and some homemade tofu, some of the best I’ve ever eaten, by the way.
Once finished there, we jumped in the truck and went to the local hardware store, a few kilometers out-of-town, where my husband bought some motor oil. From there we stopped at a couple of grocery stores for sundry items on the way home. All fine. The last stop had me buying a bottle of bubbly for our New Year’s Eve toast.
Once I had the bottle of Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé, I jumped in the truck and my husband turned the key. It turned over—ruh..ruh..ruh..ruh..ruh—but would not start. He turned the key off. Tried it again. Same thing. Ruh..ruh..ruh..ruh.
In Costa Rica there is nothing men like better than to help with car problems. Everyone suddenly becomes a resident expert, and it is not unusual to find a broken-down vehicle with four of five men who have stopped to offer their opinion. Sometimes—no, often—it is less than a help and can cause more problems than you started with. But that day a retired mechanic happened to be shopping and sauntered over for a look. He observed the motor while my husband tinkered and said, “I don’t like to touch too much, but it seems like you don’t have any power from the coil. I think it’s the coil (bobina). It could be the coil…or maybe a fuse.” He then offered us a tow home. When he delivered us to our door and the truck, safely in the garage, he gave me the name and telephone number of a mechanic who specializes in electrical problems. “If it is electrical, Johnny can fix it.”
My husband is a gifted mechanic of the Macgyver variety and he is the only reason the Jeep is still alive at all, but it’s hard to fix anything without the parts. Anyway, I’ve listened to the same sound, the ruh..ruh..ruh..ruh, pretty much every day since, but at least I haven’t heard the dreaded ruh..ruh…ruh…….ruh………..ru……………ru of a dying battery.
We had to wait for the holidays to come to a close, but last Wednesday I called a Jeep parts house in the capital.
Costa Rica has the most amazing system for dealing with rural living and distant needs. It’s called the encomienda, or courier service. You can order a part, pay the amount into the business’ bank account, and they will send it by courier, in our case La Costa, a truck transport service. Central de Repuestos promised delivery of the new coil the following day.
Thursday afternoon I jumped on my bike, one I haven’t ridden in a very long time, I might add. Ten kilometers to town and I was feeling good, surprised at how easy the ride was. I waited for three hours only to be told that La Costa had mechanical problems—is it epidemic?— and would not be arriving as planned until deep in the night. I went home.
The next day I called. Yes, the truck arrived and my package was there. Back on the bike, and this time there was the beginnings of soreness on those sit bones. But I got the part and made it to and from Puerto Viejo. That was 40 kilometers in two days. I might begin this as a new year’s exercise program.
My husband put the new coil in the Jeep. Ruh..ruh..ruh..ruh.
The mechanic, Johnny, is coming on Monday.