La Vulcanizadora

This is a Spanish quiz: A vulcanizadora is:

  1. A bar frequented by Vulcans in the Star Trek series
  2. A place where vultures congregate
  3. A place to get your tire repaired

If you chose “3” you are correct and you get the Spanish vocabulary prize of the week.                                                              

Maggie and I had a flat yesterday. Fortunately we discovered this when we were right outside the Vulcanizadora – modest as the workshop looked, we could see it was exactly what we needed.

The shop is run by José who is mute. Those who do not speak Spanish and have felt the frustration of being unable to communicate need to meet this guy. He made himself perfectly understood by means of sign language, jumping up and down, and drawing in the air.

He had the tire off the car in no time. He plunged it into a tank of water (to see where air bubbles would show) because where there are bubbles, there is also a problem. José got a pair of pliers and pulled out the culprit – a skinny little nail.

He turned to salute the Virgin of Guadalupe image on the wall. I interpreted this as a little prayer of thanks to her for helping him locate the problem…

He then pried, turned, hauled on and spun the tire to get it off the rim. He patched the little hole … plunged the tire back in the water to be sure there were no more bubbles (problems) Satisfied that the tire was now in excellent shape, he put it back on the car.

Time elapsed: 20 minutes                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Price: 70 pesos

Number of smiles exchanged: muchos

Client satisfaction: 100%

People like José are who you meet when you patronize Mérida’s local establishments.


Have a look at today’s post on my son’s blog:

Carlos, who lives in Norway, went with a fellow Mexican student  to the Mexican

students’ in Paris rally in support of the #yo soy 132 movement. His opinion is

interesting and common to most of the young people I’ve had the opportunity to speak




Filed under Commentary, Vida Latina

10 responses to “La Vulcanizadora

  1. Ken

    This is such a nice story! Thank you for sharing!

    • Hello Ken! I haven’t heard from you for a while… I trust you are still on track with your plans to move here… we look forward to seeing you again soon.

  2. Nancy Walters

    Love the story! During the years I would drive around Mexico I always felt good when I would see one of the signs usually crudely painted on a piece of wood out in the middle of nowhere along the road with a simple little place to stay out of the sun. I was always grateful I didn’t have a flat on those many journeys but I knew help was there along the way.

    • Exactly and I think those tire repair guys get a lot of satisfaction from the job… people are so grateful to have their four wheels back in service. I know that José was all smiles…

  3. Well, Joanna–that was my first, and probably last, prize for Spanish!

    So true–people like Jose show that accurate communication is possible if one wants it, and does not walk around with blinders on. I have a deaf-mute neighbor who is charming to chat with as well.

    (And Joanne–I did see sign-language being used here once, at a lecture.)

  4. Joanne

    Joanna, I am assuming that Jose is mute because he is deaf. Is there a Spanish Sign Language a la ASL (American Sign Language)? I have seen a few deaf people here in Mexico but have not seen them communicating in sign.

    • No Joanne… José is not deaf. At least not completely; he responded to sound. I am not connected to any groups that help people with a problem like José has, but if any readers are, I’d like to return to see José and maybe he could be tested? I think anyone who meets him will be moved to help him if possible.

  5. Lee

    You should be saluting the Virgin after having a flat right in front of the vulcanizadora. Great story!

    • Yes I know! And that was not the only bit of “luck”… we didn’t know we had a flat but we had just given 10 pesos to a person asking for a donation and he pointed out both the flat and the vulcanizadora out to us! What goes around, comes around…

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