I thought I’d write something to give a snapshot of the working vehicles here on our farm, just for your amusement.
* Our car is a red 2002 PT Cruiser, our most-used vehicle, and it’s what we drive “in public”. It’s got 216,000 miles on it, and rattles, but it runs fine. It’s a bit risky to drive it on the public roads and highways, because it could be confiscated at any time. We would make it legal if it were possible, but it’s stuck in never-never land, mired in Mexican law. When I got my permanent residency I had a month to sell it, I was told, (which would be very difficult, since it’s not “nationalized”), or get it legalized (which would be even more difficult, as there are only certain specified model years that can be legalized – recent years – and ours is not one of those,and it’s expensive! Like, over $1500 expensive). We are driving it, and avoiding, as well as we can, the municipal police, the federales, and the “transito” which is like the Highway Patrol. The car is extremely handy for us, as we can carry small musical equipment in it, for church gigs. We can also carry farming stuff – bottled herbicides and pesticides, and a few 100-lb sacks of urea if we need to (normally that gets delivered to the house by the ton). It’s pretty obvious to anyone who looks at the inside that it’s used for farming because of spilled seeds and salty-looking grains of fertilizer. The undercarriage is covered with caked mud from the field roads.
There is a very slight possibility of getting it legalized through a small organization called the Union Campesina Democratica, the People’s Democratic Union
There’s another small possibility that the ex-chief-of-police from a nearby town can arrange for us to get a driving permit for it. He borrowed money from us, and said he’d look into it haha. (That’s a story for another day.)
*Our pickup is a 1985 3/4 ton GMC, called La Paloma. It used to be pretty. We brought it here maybe 10 years ago, not exactly legally. We crossed the border late at night, because we had had to wait until afternoon to leave the Palmdale area. We we carrying four raw speakers in boxes (very expensive and difficult to find in Mexico), a very good mixer we use for recording, and personal items under a tarp in the bed. We weren’t sleepy, and we just kept driving south. We got our visas from a 24-hour office, and kept driving. The first check point we got to was closed for arranging car permits but we talked the official into letting us go ahead, and we kept driving. We reached another checkpoint very early in the morning,and were immediately questioned by the guards there, and pulled off the road. My husband told me not to worry, and went into the house-trailer-slash-office, and there he stayed for quite a while. It took him probably half an hour, and I should’ve been worried, I suppose, but by that time I was just too tired. When Chon came back to the pickup I said “Can we go now?” He said no, but that the head guy just wanted some money, and he had the right amount. We both went into the trailer/office and paid the man, and we left quickly, as I recall. The guards never looked under the tarp covering our precious load, which certainly would have been confiscated. The man in charge had first told Chon that we must, absolutely must return to the place that gave vehicle permits, but Chon had convinced him that we would take our chances, and after all, we weren’t staying in Mexico. – we were just visiting his family.
We were not stopped again on the rest of the two-thousand mile trip. We arrived, unloaded the cargo, visited, and left, leaving the pickup. And it’s still here! If we need to get mechanical work done we drive it at night or in the early, early morning.
It is our main, multi-use vehicle, used to carry workers, tons of fertilizer, and large tanks of water; 1000 liters, or 5 barrels plus. Each bag weighs about 100 pounds. Yes, Rod, we know this is too heavy a load.
It’s challenging driving the pickup during the rainy season here. Think February and March in Central and Northern California. Although we’ve improved the worst sections of our field roads, there are spots where it’s nearly impossible to drive without sliding off the roads into the tilled fields, even with mud tires. This is frustrating and costs us time.
*When we finally moved our household to central Mexico we drove our large Ford van, called Foxy because of its previous life as a FOX off-road motorcycle team carrier. I wrote about that border crossing at length in my blog. I say at length because of our prolonged stay in Nogales on the north side of the customs crossing. The reason for this stay was that we were waiting (and waiting and waiting, for days) for a customs officer to process our application to legalize the van, which we use for our large equipment for performances. The van was eventually legalized, (after months) so, yes, if you were wondering, we do have a legal vehicle.
*The least-driven but most valuable star of this crew is a new red Case tractor, purchased in December. There is a disc implement to go with it, a seeder/planter, and a spreader. We used it this season to disc over 70 acres and plant corn,
New thing. That’s not the end of the story – we’re buying another vehicle! OK, we admit it, yes, we are impulse buyers. On one of the many days our pickup got stuck in the mud, one day after our PT Cruiser’s oil pan got fractured by a rock in a field road, we spotted an odd-looking car in a used car lot next to where we had already decided to stop to get two-for-the-price-of-one pizzas, and the same day I became an official taxpayer in Mexico.
Checking it out was fun. It was exciting to think about driving a sort of a dune buggy thing, wind-in-the-hair, bugs in the teeth and all. It was newly painted (red!), newly tuned, with Volkswagen body, it’s road legal and well, cool!
We looked, we asked questions, we heard the motor, we made a down payment.
TAHDAH!! El Esqueletisimo!
We’re picking it up tomorrow. By then it should have seats. We’ll have to take a bus trip to Leon, get it licensed (where, I wonder). From there we’ve decided we should drive it home in short trips, since we don’t know it well.
Positive points: it will be legal to drive on the highway if we need to, thus reducing the stress of fear of having our car confiscated, it gets great gas mileage, it probably will not get stuck/drag its oil pan on the speed bumps, and yeah, the fun of it all.
Negative points: just look at it!
Wish us luck.