Truck Trouble for the New Year

Jeep ComancheOur 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 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.

  10 comments for “Truck Trouble for the New Year

  1. 07/01/2013 at 1:37 pm

    Hi, Julia. Nice to meet you as well and thank you for stopping by. Yes, men and cars. God love them. I had not seen Emily’s blog, but I will check it out. See you “in class.” 😉
    Sarah Corbett Morgan recently posted..Truck Trouble for the New YearMy Profile

  2. 07/01/2013 at 11:29 am

    Sarah, Nice to meet you, and thanks for stopping by my blog! What is it about men and cars- I think that phenomenon also exists in the US! Are you familiar with Emily McGee of She just got back from a stint in Kenya and also writes about her expat experiences.
    Good luck with the truck. Be safe. Adios

  3. 06/01/2013 at 9:04 pm

    Ruh Ro! Doesn’t sound good. Hope Johnny made it and fixed the problem. That’s an old truck by anyone’s standards.
    Cindy Dwyer recently posted..Six Sentence SundayMy Profile

    • 07/01/2013 at 8:22 am

      We canceled Johnny because the truck started right after I posted this to the blog. Wouldn’t you know it, but my husband says he’s not sure what ‘fixed’ it. So…. bottom line, he’ll be coming with me on errands for a while.

  4. 06/01/2013 at 4:57 pm

    It’s all part of the new Mayan calendar thingy, don’t you think? Out with the old, in with the new. Well, no sooner had I posted that to my blog than I heard the motor start. Alan did something…. but he doesn’t know what is was. “It’s still not safe,” he said, “because I have no idea which thing I did fixed it.” Bottom line: we will be going to town together until we either figure out what electrical issue caused the problem… or I forget we were having problems. Probably the latter, don’t you think? HATE electrical problems.
    Sarah Corbett Morgan recently posted..Truck Trouble for the New YearMy Profile

  5. 06/01/2013 at 3:51 pm

    Can you believe we heard that same ruh, ruh, ruh sound yesterday? The mechanic said he’d be here at 5:30 yesterday. This morning he said, ahorita! It’s almost four and we’re still waiting. Our Toyota Landcruiser, btw, is twenty-six, but there are far older ones on this side of the country…
    Myra recently posted..I’m backMy Profile

  6. 06/01/2013 at 9:27 am

    Perfect. Thank you, and I will add you to my blogroll. We should have a housewarming for the new blog, don’t you think?
    See you in a few minutes.
    Sarah Corbett Morgan recently posted..Truck Trouble for the New YearMy Profile

  7. 06/01/2013 at 9:11 am
    The website above is the new one
    Helen devries recently posted..A Muddle of MentalitiesMy Profile

  8. 06/01/2013 at 8:59 am

    Hi, Helen. I read your wonderful blog entry about your car problems. It was very evocative and made me laugh straight up. I loved that the ham and dinner guests became part of the drama, and, of course, that the red light was still shining in the end. I also read with sadness that your blog is coming to an end. Please let me know where to find you when you relocate, because I cannot imagine your staying quiet for long regardless of the meddlers. Blog on!
    Sarah Corbett Morgan recently posted..Truck Trouble for the New YearMy Profile

  9. 06/01/2013 at 7:01 am

    How familiar does this sound! My husband is not at all mechanically minded, the gentleman who works for us is pretty good…but neither can work miracles without spare parts…but they know a man who can…a cuban living locally who takes problems as a challenge which he is determined to win.
    I wrote about it here
    Helen devries recently posted..A Muddle of MentalitiesMy Profile

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