Paul (El Guapo) Latoures and I were driving on the periférico when we spotted this humongous truck parked in front of a repair shop.
He said, "That would make a great picture."
I tried to blow him off: "Yeah, yeah. Lets go get some coffee."
Paul launched into his usual interminable lecture about how the best pictures were the ones he didn't take. With a sigh, I pulled over to inspect this monster.
The battered truck crouched ominously. Like something out of Mad Max, it had seen many highway battles. Paul pointed out the Grim Reaper decal obscuring the windshield.
Believe me, you see this in your rear view mirror, you'll get out of the way.
It was parked in front of a vulcanizadora for tire repairs. If anything, the tire place looked more marginal than the truck.
An apparent believer in minimizing start-up costs, the proprietor had pressed a claw foot bathtub into service for locating punctures.
The truck had major tire issues. Several had chunks missing from treads. Others were virtually bald. The trucker had managed to squeeze every last kilometer out of the life of these tires.
Photo: Paul Latoures
A bottle jack supporting an axle of the fully loaded truck leaned precariously. I doubt there's a hydraulic rack capable of lifting this vehicle anywhere in San Miguel. Why buy a pricey machine when a $50 hand tool and a block of wood will do the same job?
I wondered if the truck could fall off the tiny jack. Well of course it could. But resourceful mechanics would see such a happenstance as a minor setback at worst.
A closer look at the truck revealed other signs of heavy use and repairs. The frame supporting the box had been welded where it had cracked. The box itself was supported on new-looking pine blocks—surely a stopgap repair.
The battery hold-down was long gone, replaced by a knotted rope.
The box was deteriorating. Paul, amused, points out broken slats. The load doesn't look any too stable either.
This truck would not be permitted to operate north of the border. I doubt it could even be restored to operational standards. But such matters are not taken so seriously here. I often find myself following vehicles like this as they labor up some grade, ghastly clouds of black smoke issuing from their stacks.
But today, vehicle safety standards are becoming part of drivers' lives. After losing a couple of rigs descending the long grade on the Carretera a Querétaro, a truck inspection checkpoint was established at the top. That this beast would be allowed through is dubious.
But I have to say I like this truck. It has the quality of a much-used and worn hand tool. You don't throw stuff out here. Not if there's any way of fixing it. I bet the owner figures there's lots more life left in this baby.