Day 14: The Driveway of Naomi and Gonzo (near Aqua Caliente)
Woke up our second last day of our adventure, and quickly started calling Bus Depot, Go Westy and many parts suppliers to get a brand new alternator. Only Bus Depot had one in stock, at it was going to take days and a whole lotta shipping charges to get the part to San Diego.
Meanwhile, Naomi had offered to drive Debbie to the San Diego airport. So sweet. Our Plan B was coming together with a new part for the bus, and getting Debbie home in time for the kids.
Plan A was sourcing a part locally, and getting back on the road by the end of the day. Gonzo believed our alternator could be rebuilt, so off he and Jeff went to the guru in town. They said it could be done and it would take a few hours.
During this time, we connected with our hosts and their friends. Peeking into a world that was foreign to us in many ways. Naomi and Gonzo have given up much of their money, possessions and now their home, to be in service to others. They were days away from having an Open House to show off their new home for the abandoned and neglected elderly in Mexico. Their home was part trailer and part permanent structure – perhaps about 1,100 sq. ft in size. They were giving up about 800 sq. ft. of their home – 75% of their personal space – to help others in need. Something we rarely see in our society.
Naomi quickly got Jeff to help out the volunteers finish the kitchen – some dry walling, electrical wiring and cabinet installation. Meanwhile, Naomi and Debbie hit the kitchen to do some baking for the Open House. Debbie learned how to make Empanadas with a recipe from Naomi’s Mexican grandmother. We also baked cookies.
Then Gonzo returned with our refurbished alternator. And voila, after a few more hours the bus was running and like new.
We hugged, kissed and high-fived our new friends and hosts. Debbie even got a little teary-eyed saying good-bye. Touched by the kindness and generosity of total strangers.
The whole experience was magical, moving and expanded our world.
For us, the emotional extremes were profound. Having the bus breakdown in an unknown area……at night……..in Northern Mexico, conjured up all sorts of obvious stress and anxiety. Fear for our safety and wellbeing, getting Debbie to the airport on time (we had less than a day), and finding a replacement part for Marigold with limited resources available to us. We didn’t know if our phone would work, and there was no WiFi. Plus, we were in the middle of an intersection when the bus konked out. At night!
But lo and behold, it was our good fortune that the car behind us was a helpful soul who took the time to ensure we were taken care of. Thanks to Ulysses and his wife Patricia (who stayed with Debbie and Marigold, while Jeff went to visit the mechanic). How lucky is it that we ended up meeting not only a magical mechanic, but generous people with HUGE hearts. Naomi and Gonzo wanted nothing in return and were simply helping us.
The experience will stay with us forever, and really can’t fully be captured in words.
By 2:00 pm we were back on the road, heading north on Mex 1. Naomi had secretly tucked some warm empanadas and cookies in our bus. In her usual self-less way – she gave us half the batch of baking that we had made together.
Our next big hurdle was crossing back into the US at Tijuana before dark. Not long ago, waits could be up to 6 hours to cross. Just last year, they upgraded the San Ysidro access point and we sailed through at 5:30 pm on a Friday night. This is the largest border crossing in the world with 1,000,000 passing through each and every day.
Made it to San Diego at sunset…..sad to know it was the end of an epic trip, and happy to know we made it 4,000 km safely. And much richer for the magical experience.