I know you like photos, and I sure wish I could show you some, but my little seven year old, $50 Kodak EasyShare may have snapped its last. Or it could be that the seven year old rechargeable batteries I use in have recharged their last. Either way, while I would love to show you some photos of my street Colon Sur (South Columbus), it’s just not gonna happen, so you’ll have to envision it. C’mon, you got mad skills for that!
Imagine, if you will, a dusty cobblestone (and I DO mean stone) calle in a pueblo in the Mexican central highlands. On the left side of the road, you have houses, for the most part, with sidewalks in front. On the right are fairly tall trees and bushes with a chain link fence running through the bushes to protect the berry field across the street.
The street is probably the equivalent of about two relatively small vehicles wide. It IS a two-lane road, but there’s no way two large trucks, even two large pickups can comfortably pass without the truck headed south (on the tree side) having to go into the bushes. In other words, if the right-hand window is down and you have a passenger, you’ve got a problem.
From the carretera (highway), Colon Sur is only about three blocks long, but it gets quite a bit of traffic…..50% composed of vehicles and 50% composed of horses, cows, dogs, burros, and pedestrians since my block has quite a few sidewalks, but the other two blocks don’t.
So now you’ve got a picture in your mind of Colon Sur; right? Muddy during the rainy season and dusty the rest of the year, particularly in the dry season . The pedestrians, both two- and four-legged, know instinctively to get over on the tree side when there is vehicular traffic (cars, trucks, motor scooters, and quads) coming, although the walking people and dogs and occasionally burros will use the sidewalk if available.
For instance, one morning I heard a bit of a ruckus outside my front door and when I opened it, I found myself eyeball to eyeball with a burro who was checking out my garbage can. I’m willing to bet that you readers in urban or suburban areas of the United States or Canada may sometimes find yourself eyeball to eyeball with asses checking out your trash, but not ones with tails and HUGE teeth!!! I’m not sure who/which one of us was more startled!
Nonetheless, even with all the kinds of traffic we get on Colon Sur, it’s not often that we get a real traffic jam where nobody is going anywhere. But, boy, did we get one this morning!
It was about 10:10AM and I had just opened the garage doors to back out Stormy the pickup so that I could go play cards with my friends when I saw “my” propane truck coming down the block. We all depend on propane to fuel our stoves, at a minimum, and usually our water heaters as well, and we all have our favorite companies and/or drivers that we use over and over.
There are lots of propane distributors and they all drive up and down the streets of all the pueblos filling up or exchanging tanks. Some people have tanks like this:
and when the gas guys with those kinds of tanks come by, they exchange your empty tank for a full one, like our water guys do. The guys who drive the trucks with those stand-alone tanks usually have an announcement system on their vehicle so throughout the day, all through the pueblo, you hear “GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS” or, from one particular company, a little song, “Zeta, Zeta, Zeta Gas.” So you can go outside and flag them down.
But those of us who have non-movable propane tanks call our favorite driver (they all carry cell phones) and have them come by to fill us up. They’re usually very good about giving us an estimate as to when they’ll be showing up, which always delights me. None of this “we’ll be there some time between 8AM and 5PM.” No, no. It’s usually (since you’re talking to the driver himself) more like, “Okay, well, I’m in San Juan Cosala right now, so I’ll be over in an hour or less.”
Man, is that cool!! No hanging around the house all day waiting as a rule. But sometimes your guy is on the other side of the mountains filling up his truck and he’ll tell you it might be three or four hours before he can get to your place. Still…..way better than the 8AM to 5pM stuff!
Now I have a small propane tank here. It looks like this:
but it’s much smaller. Maybe half the size of the ones you know, maybe even one-third the size. However, I still need the “regular” large propane truck to come and fill it up with the hose. You know, kind of like this:
Since I was backing out of the garage on my way to cards, I figured I would wait until I got home to call my gas guy. But as I backed out, “my” gas company truck was coming up the street. Too good an opportunity to miss! So maybe I’m a little late to the card game, so what. I’m down below 15% full in the tank and I wanna do some baking.
So I jumped into the middle of the street and flagged the guy down, then hustled over to the front door to open it up so that he could put the dispenser tube through it and top me off. (Most large propane tanks in our area of Mexico sit on the roof, so all my guys are delighted that they don’t have to climb the ladders they always carry to give me a fill up. That delight is always tempered by the fact that I have such a small tank.)
There are always two guys in every propane truck. The driver/money guy and the guy who does the actual filling up. I was chasing after the truck when the real “worker” showed up next to me, having jumped out of the right-hand door when he saw me. Scared the crap out of me!!
Anyhow, once we established where the tank was, the worker motioned to the driver to back up close to the front door and we got the process going. Now you have to go back and remember how wide my street is. Definitely not wide enough for the propane truck and anything other than a scooter, quad, or animals. As a rule, not a problem. However, my water bottle delivery guy happened to be headed north on Colon Sur at the same time as the propane truck pulled up to my front door headed south.
So our first stand-still traffic jam occurred. And then it got even more exciting!! (Remember, I am easily amused.) A pickup truck came along headed north and, for whatever reason, he had a small (like mine) propane tank in the bed of his truck and he, too, need a fill. So he pulled in between my pickup (now on the street) and the propane truck and proceeded to get some propane. “My” propane driver was thrilled! Two fill ups and no climbing! Just like that, 1,200 pesos or more in his hand!
And you know the really nice thing about it? My great Jocotepec Water bottle delivery man who had to sit there just waiting for us to finish up so he could pass sold two bottles of water to the folks in the house he was stopped in front of!! And I know for a fact that those people use a different brand of more expensive bottled water, so I’m hoping he picked up a new customer….or at least a good tip if they paid him what they normally pay.
And that’s the story of the great Colon Sur traffic jam of 2 October 2013!! You’re probably breathless with excitement, as I was, so take a siesta if you need to!