Imagine with me if you will Mario Kart. Or, if you haven’t played Mario Kart, picture any arcade driving game.
This is driving in the Santa Tecla/San Salvador area…. With New York City traffic. Where in, most of the traffic is gigantic school/public bus transportation, barreling at you from all directions.
There are round-a-abouts, merging traffic, on ramps, off ramps and nary a stop light (we saw one or 2).
If you are following, then imagine yourself doing this all day……
Evelin and I had but one option, to laugh about many things. At one point we threatened Alex’s life if we did not come home with a car that day. In addition, if we didn’t get to the fun stuff of looking at houses, then he would also be in serious danger. Because we women, had only come along for the ride at the promise of browsing homes.
As if Alex had any control over the situation.
Now, since most of you have never been here, I just need to clarify that the used car lots we were looking at were not laid out like a car lot you are accustomed to seeing. There is a lack of parking or open space at all, so the cars at the lots and the mechanics we visited were parked a bit like this:
If you want to see something, or park, then there are approximately 6 other cars that have to be maneuvered first.
Please don’t misunderstand my intent with writing this. El Salvador is different, and I simply want you to be able to visualize. Different is not good, bad, wrong or right. It’s just different.
And we had quite the hilarious (different) experience… because after our 4 or 5th hour of doing this chase around the city… Evaristo (our friend and driver) took matters into his own hands.
When we reached another round about, going over the same ground…. We were stopped in traffic and I watch as he rolls the passenger window down and starts to frantically wave at a driver of a 9 passenger van next to us.
I smile and wave thinking Evaristo knows this particular man, because he is also quickly speaking to me in Spanish (and I have no clue what he is saying).
What is actually going down, and that I catch bits and pieces of, is that Evaristo is now trying to buy the guy’s van from him IF it has air conditioning in the front and back. IF.
While we are stopped in traffic.
“Do You want to sell us your van?”
“How are the tires? The engine? Does the air conditioning work??”
The man in the car chuckles, says the air doesn’t work, and we move along on our way. So Evaristo turns to me and remarks, “the air didn’t work, no sale.”….
Meanwhile I am dumbfounded, laughing hysterically, and have to explain to the rest of the passengers who missed this whole exchange.
I begin fervently praying that God would please, please drop a van into our laps, in our budget.
That became the point in the day where Evaristo was determined to get us a car. I’m fairly certain he couldn’t take one more day of car shopping with us!
If not that, then what happened next proved it.
We swung into a shopping center to wait for Ivo to go get his daughter from school. I remembered that we needed some more water, so my family, Evelin and I went into the grocery store to buy some. As I stepped out of the van Evaristo chuckled in my general direction, string of heavily accented Spanish (that even the people down here have a hard time understanding), and finally I make out as he is laughing;
“I will find you a van.” Hahahahah, I smile, I laugh, of course he is joking around. We are in a parking lot.
Midway through checkout, Alex gets a call… from Evaristo. We go out to the parking lot to find that he has stopped a family while getting out of their mini-van and asked them if they would please sell it to us…….
A van with no “for sale” sign on it. Strangers. Strangers who in fact had just purchased this van a month ago. But the wife says, “Sure.” But not for a penny less than the price we will ask of you. Don’t even think about asking for a lower price.
The price happens to be less than our budget.
So we agree to meet them in the morning at a mechanic. Meanwhile, we have a lead on another van, that a friend of a friend of a brother’s cousin might know about.
But I have had it. I quit. And I just want to go see what may potentially be our new home. I agree to just send Alex with Ivo and Evaristo the next day, and Que sera sera sera.
We continued on our way to look at a furnished house. In our price range.
With…. Wait for it……… a washer AND dryer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Unheard of. I do not have to wash my family of 6’s clothes by hand!
I would. Lord knows I will roll with the punches adjust, and wash by hand. I will. Scout’s honor.
After all, I live with 2 lizards (I think, there could be more) and poisonous spiders.
But if I don’t HAVE to wash by hand, in our budget?
Well then, I am allowed to rejoice about that right?!
Epilogue: the parking lot people called the next morning and had changed their minds. But it’s okay because the lead on the other van panned out, and Alex preserved his life by bringing it home with him the following day. We have now been on 2 successful driving trips, un-escorted around La Libertad. We may brave going into Santa Tecla grocery shopping today. If we are feeling exorbitantly brave.