Wanderings through life, landscapes, and occasional loopiness. So pull up a log and have a bit of a sit-down ’round the virtual campfire.
Buenas tardes, mis peeps fabulosas/os! Estoy muy ocupada. But we’re all bizzy. Whatevah!So here I am on my way to LA for the faboo Book Expo America. I’ve heard as many as 37000 people go to this thing, so maybe I’ll be able to do some networking. Holy hell, one HOPES I’d get some of that done at a venue like this! DUH!
All right. So I left my base camp around 12.30 PM MST and la la la I’m driving along U.S. 285 headed south through Alamosa, Colorado. Things seemed fine. Then about 20 miles outside Española, New Mexico the car I was driving started making a most heinous noise and I got a Very Bad Feeling. I said to the car: “20 miles, pal. Get us to Española.” The most heinous noise increased, as did my Very Bad Feeling, which had progressed to a Holy Shit What’s Happening To My Car feeling.
The car did get me to Española, and I pulled into the parking lot of a Motel 6 where I discovered that somewhere between Alamosa and where I am currently writing this, all of the car’s transmission fluid had disappeared. Like this country’s budget. POOF. Well, the car had just been serviced two days ago and the mechanic had said he’d drained the transmission fluid.
Pray tell, sir, did you remember to 1) replace said transmission fluid? and 2) tighten the bolts on that pan thingie (technical term) where the filter sits?
At this point, nobody’s sure. All I know is I hoofed it a while to get to a place that actually had some t-fluid to sell. So I poured 3 quarts in, thinking the guys just hadn’t replaced the fluid. I waited a few minutes, checked the car. Seemed okay. Tried backing up and driving forward a little bit. Nope. Still the most heinous noise. I got out of the car and as if the vehicle had been in some kind of Butch and Sundance showdown, where it had hunkered in a canyon as the sheriff’s posses opened fire and a spreading pool of pink fluid stained the parking lot under tire and the car gasped out, “Ah took a direct hit, Andi. Ah can’t make it. You go on without me” and it bled its fluid onto the asphalt.
I patted it on its tender fender. “It’s okay, ol’ paint. You did what you–HEY! Wait a minnit! I CAN’T go on without you! DAMMIT! HOLD ON!”
So I went into the Motel 6 lobby to chat with the woman behind the desk. She’s older and looks like she can probably trace her ancestry back to the first Spanish conquistadores who settled this valley. Now, Española isn’t that big a city. Maybe 12,000. So, given my experience with places like this, I figured she had to know somebody who would know somebody who would know somebody else whose cousin could fix my car, maybe even on Memorial Day.
And sure enough, she got on the phone and called her husband who gave her the number to Augustino. She called up Augustino, who still speaks Spanish and Spanglish mostly, and she explained the problem, infusing her conversation with terms like “ese” (”buddy” or “homie” in northern NM-speak) and phrases like “sí, soy esposa de TONY. (Yes, I’m Tony’s wife!–she rolled her eyes at me at that one and mouthed “MEN!”) in the sing-song, rolling accent that colors this part of the state, whether speaking Spanish or English. And then she called her sister-in-law who called somebody she knew, who always take their cars to Raymundo. I don’t really care who Raymundo is or even what his last name is. All I know is that he fixes transmissions and he might be open on Memorial Day. And chances are, María’s in-law’s friends aren’t going to steer her or me wrong. That just wouldn’t be bueno.
So a la mañana, we’ll see if Raymundo can help me out. Meanwhile, I’m chillin’ in this part of New Mexico and you know what? I’m just so happy to be back that even a bloody transmission isn’t gonna freak me out. I love the rounded, melodic accent in this lowrider-ridden bastion of New Mexico and the ties that bind the community to its historic Spanish past. I love that just 15 miles or so up the road I’ll be cruising through Pojoaque (po-HWA-kay) Pueblo and Tesuque (te-SOO-kay) Pueblo and about 10 miles past that, I’ll be in Santa Fe. And then Albuquerque.
A nice piccie of Pojoaque:
It’s true what they say about New Mexico. It gets under your skin, like the layers of dust that blow in from the high desert and leave a film of grit on your windowsills. New Mexico is as much a state of mind as a state, and I feel a strange fiery peace for the first time in 4 years.
No, I don’t have much luck with cars when I start on a journey. But that’s all right. As Garrison Keillor says, “nothing bad ever happens to writers. It’s all material.”
I hope y’all are having a nice 3-day weekend if you’re in the States. If not, I hope you had a great weekend. Take it easy and thanks for joining me vicariously in Travails of the Transmission. And for those of you in the path of those scary storms across Kansas and Missouri and on into Illinois, hunker down and stay safe.
Catch yuh on the flipside, yep.