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Posted by pancho from ( on Monday, September 30, 2002 at 6:43PM :

I have a 76 Ford Bronco. Someone traded it for sculpture a few years ago. It's bright red, has oversized tires, Hurst linkage on a four speed that didn't come with the car originally and it has a ridiculous engine. The guy knew what he was doing when he gave it away. The only way to register it in California is to lie. You couldn't pass a smog test if your life dependended on it. Luckily there was a guy in town who had a way of tweaking the engine so he could pass it. It drank gas like Welsh actors drink whiskey and roared around drunk on the mountain roads between town and our house in St. Helena. It was squirreley around corners and not at all easy to drive. The engine was a 354 Ford Windsor out of 68 Boss Mustang...I have no idea what this stuff means...I just know greasy guys would pull up to me, nod appreciatively and say these sorts of things like they wanted to date the car. In short it was way too powerful to be of any use. Even though it was "free" has required regular transfusions of cash as it seems to be fighting itself every time you start it up. The worst thing about it is reverse and first gear. The difference between them is so slight that you can't be sure when you let the clutch out if you're going to bash the car behind you or run a pedestrian over in front of you. It's four wheel drive of course but not the sissy kind you flip a switch on the dash to engage. There's another shift lever on the floor that you have to wrestle with and even then you have to hop out and flip a switch on each front wheel. And to get out you have to reverse the process. It has a super low four wheel drive which means in first gear you can get out of the car and go inside for a beer and come back while it's barely moved five feet.

Now when you drive a car into Mexico as a tourist they give you a permit that goes on the windshield. Computers are a curse in this country...makes it harder to bribe people. Anyway, you're allowed only one car per registered couple. I left the Bronco in California...where I coudn't drive it legally any longer, and came into Mexico with the Suburban...a great truck to move three children, a dog, seven cats and a horse with. But I really wanted the Bronco down here, seemed just the place for it cause many roads ARE off road. I took a chance and drove it down to Laredo in Texas then across into Mexico, without bothering to get a permit. Ashur must have been watching out because for the first time ever the border guard waved me past to the custums checkpoint without bothering to ask for my papers...not mine or the cars.

It was around two in the morning, the customs guys figured the other fellow must have asked for my papers so after a brief search they too waved me on my way. I was in. Didn't have any papers but the army checkpoints usually stop you on the way out...they figure no one is smuggling drugs into the country. Still, odds were I'd be stopped sometime along the 700 mile trip to San Miguel, so I kept a hundred dollar bill tucked away. That's half the monthly salary of most of the cops and soldiers...and no harm done. As luck would have it I made it all the way to San Louis Potosi, about 150 miles from home, when a machine gun toting soldier waved me over. I told him I didn't have any papers for the car. He couldn't understand how I'd gotten through the border but I kept shrugging my shoulders and smiling. One of the disadvantages of speaking only a little Spanish and being Assyrian is that Mexicans assume I'm one of those hoity toity Mexicans who's been living in the States so long he thinks he's no longer Mexican and doesn't have to speak the language. That's tripped me up sometimes when cops in Mexico City used to shake me down years ago when Ashurbanipal was being cast there. They always say the equivalent of..."you don't speak Spanish Huh?" One cop asked me for forty bucks for some whiskey for his pal and too if I had the time. When he wouldn't believe I didn't understad him ( I did), I answered him in our own language. Anyway, I was ready to flash my hundred when he went over to talk to his commander. He came back to say I should not do this again and let me pass. What a civilized country.

So, the car is isn't legal here either but I don't drive it to town...just out here in the countryside. It's a great car for kids to learn to drive on...if you can drive this thing, you can drive anything. So...the other day we're out bouncing along the backroads down by where there's a small village. We come to the little square which consists of one church and a store someone made of their living room. There's a huge tree in front of the church and the smallest paved area. There twelve feet above us, tied up with a rope was the cut up carcass of a full grown bull. It had been cleaned and skinned, all except for the nose and snout. It looked as it had been hit by a train and wrapped all around itself. The body cavity was open, the ribs pink and white. The face was serene, staring down at us. I imagine it was some sort of a festival day and the people would come to buy and cut off portions for the meal that day. It was beautiful in its own way because it was so damn was , "what it was".

-- pancho
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