Check engine light

There are fewer rules down in Mexico than we are used to back home in Canada. Traffic rules like coming to a complete stop at the sign, merely a suggestion. Rolling stop, or a yield is more the norm.

You might come upon an obstruction in the road, like a big hole and the marker will be a spikey metal thing without any kind of reflection on it. Driving into the spike or the hole, would be a toss up which one was worse.

Rental cars are always a bit shabby. Even if the vehicle is low mileage and a late model, it will be worn hard. The sun is brutal on the exterior, the road conditions, the drivers – it all takes its toll on the look and sometimes performance of the rental. Missing internal pieces, or broken gadgets, completely expected.

And the check engine light. My husband marveled yesterday as we got into our rental at San Jose Del Cabo airport, the ubiquitous light is on in this vehicle too! He did ask the attendant if that was OK and neither side might have been clear about the question/answer. The Mexican maybe didn’t understand the question and my husband assuming the answer.

Off we went. Happy to be back in the sunshine. Flight was in early, we knew where our lunch stop would be, tummies grumbling. Then there was another sort of noise. Seemed to coincide with the pedal being pressed on the gas. My husband thought it was a rattle. Don’t worry.

For the next set of events, I need to explain my husband and cars. He was a resourceful and creative mechanic and could fix a multitude of failures on cars in a pinch. The other term my Dad likes to use is, “limping a car”. That is when there has been an almost near shut down of a major component on a car and you can barely “limp” it along by driving in a certain way.

So we are heading up our first big hill and the engine starts to overheat and shuts off. We are on a very small shoulder with cars blasting past us. Now I’m scrambling to figure out how to call the the “guy” who needs to get us out of this jam. At the same time, my husband starts to react. We can’t stay here, he says. So off goes the air conditioning and after 3 tries, the engine turns over. And we are moving again.

We limp it back to the airport where a new van is waiting for us. It all happened so quickly and seamlessly that my daughter asked what was happening as we changed over? She had been playing a video game the whole time and had no idea. This is the same child that can remember every detail of a conversation she over hears a year later.

But our children have never experienced the sheer volume of car failure that my husband and I have. As I left home in an old Chevy Monza my Dad said, find a boyfriend who can fix that thing. (My Dad had been fixing it for three years at that time).

As luck would have it, I found my husband on the beach in White Rock and he battled with that Monza for a few more years. We had some equally challenging moments in some of his cars. Our joint vehicle purchases have all been interesting.

So our new rule is – the check engine light probably does mean something!


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