We did not get out of Coatzacoalcos until almost 9 this morning. Even at that we were on schedule to cross the border pretty easily on Thursday night.
We had gotten a couple of hours down the road when we crossed a bridge. As we went over the bridge with the “smooth” road, we started bouncing up and down. That nice up and down movement was apparently just right to snap the tongue on our trailer.
I am sure the trailer is quite weighted down. But I have had it this loaded before. Maybe the former abuse was just what it needed to break it the rest of the way. I have had the trailer for over 10 years. I am not sure how it was used previously. Whatever is the cause, it did break. We were very fortunate that it simply sagged to the ground and I was able to pull over to a stop. It could have just as easily broken and then dug into the asphalt and ripped the back end off our van, or flipped the trailer over onto us.
Off to Find Help
We were on a toll road and only 2 Km from a toll booth. We unhooked the trailer and drove up to the toll booth. I did not pay to go through the booth, but pulled off the side of the road. I did not want to pay $20 and then find out I had to pay it again just to go get my trailer. That wisdom proved to be accurate. If I had left the area, I would have had to pay each time I crossed back in.
For the next 3 hours I worked with a mechanic crew that hangs around the toll plaza for just such occasions trying to figure out how to get the trailer to a welder. There were two obvious solutions, but neither of them seemed practical to the mechanic. One solution was to bring the welder to the trailer. The mechanic’s argument was that the welder needed a generator to plug the welding machine in to. I suggested acetylene welding instead of arc welding. He did not know a welder who had that set-up.
The second solution was to call a tow truck and have the trailer either lifted onto a truck or do one of those amazing tow-truck-guy things that they do with chains. I am sure one could figure that out. I later found out that this was not a good solution for the mechanic because then he would lose the money to someone else. It was not about helping me, but about getting my money.
Ultimately we pulled the trailer with my van by the tongue and the mechanic’s truck rode behind the trailer pulling down on the back end with a rope to balance the trailer between the two vehicles on the trailer tires.
We pulled-pushed the trailer 5 Km (just over 3 miles) to the welder. That short trip took probably close to 45 minutes. The mechanic charged me $90 for his work. I felt like I was stuck paying that price since we really could not agree on a price before we knew what was going to be involved. I thought $50 was more justifiable, but paid the $90 anyway.
The welder said it would take him an hour to do his part. We agreed on a price of $55 to put the trailer back together and then reinforce the tongue area. It took him 1.5 hours. I got some nice pictures of him working. I will try to upload some later.
Back on the Road
That all took just under 5 hours to complete. With our late start today, we only traveled about 4 hours from where we started this morning. We ended up between 2 larger towns (where we know the hotels) to try and find a place to stay. We were headed for an area called Costa Esmeralda (Emerald Coast) to pull over for the night. When we made our final gas station stop we saw a hotel with Internet. We don’t even really know what town we are in, but we were able to get to bed early for an early start tomorrow.
There is still a slim chance of crossing the border tomorrow night, but not looking real likely.
Day 3 (Preview)
We will continue north through the town of Poza Rica. Actually, we get to skirt around the edge of town. Then through one of our least favorite towns, Tuxpan. From Tuxpan it is a horrible little road for several hours to the city of Tampico. The stretch from Poza Rica to Tampico is probably the worst roads we will encounter on the whole trip. Once we get past Tampico a couple of hours we have very nice roads the rest of the way to the border.