Thursday, February 21, 2008

Guanajuato Oh-Oh

I had a small accident today! First some background...

Today we passed through the beautiful little town of Guanajuato ("Wana-wa toe"). The town is built on hillsides and in the bottom of a small valley. Many years ago a nearby river kept overflowing and flooding the town. They tried to solve this by digging tunnels under the town to handle these periodic floods. This did not prove to be a permanent fix so in the end, the river itself was diverted away from the town. The now empty tunnels were converted for use by cars to take traffic off the streets. Access tunnels were dug to connect the tunnels with the streets above.

As we approached Guanajuato, my intention was to bypass the town, go on to San Miguel de Allende, check into the RV Park there and then return with the Honda to visit Guanajuato and Delores Hidalgo. Such was not to be! I got slightly confused reading signs and made a disastrous wrong turn with the motorhome INTO the tunnels! Once I turned I was committed. The road is narrow, single-file and one-way and there was a lot of traffic behind me. I did not immediately panic because I read that buses actually use these tunnels. Well, they must be narrow, short buses! There was a sign over the entrance warning of a 3.5 metre height restriction and I was happy that I was only 3.3 metres high! Five inches to spare! Well, there were a couple of small factors this figure did not take into consideration!

The tunnels are at the most twenty feet wide but if one could stay in the middle there would be little problem. However, they have decided to allow parking along one side of most of the tunnels, forcing traffic over against the left wall where the sloping walls of the tunnel now come into play! I turned on my hazard lights and headlights and slowly proceeded. The car dolly is about ten or twelve inches wider than the motorhome so so I had two worries. One was having the right dolly wheel get caught on a parked car and the other was striking the sloping-in left wall of the tunnel with the motorhome roof. I sweated my way through several blocks of tunnel until I found an underground bus stop where I could pull over and think (until a bus came along). A cab passed and slowed down but I did not think fast enough to stop and hire him to lead me out of the maze of tunnels. I was going to wait for another cab when a young man walked up to us. I asked him if he was a "Guide" as most residents seem to be and he answered that "si" he was. I asked him if he could get us out of the tunnels and onto the road to Delores Hidalgo and he said "si", he could. Norma got in the back, he climbed into the passenger seat and off we went with him directing me.

We made several turns when we came to a particularly narrow section of tunnel. As I glanced in the right hand mirror to check the location of the dolly tire, WHAM, I hit the drivers side roof on the wall of the tunnel! It was hard enough to shake the rig pretty good and I felt it making contact along the full 30 foot length of the motorhome. Well, no point in worrying about it now, so I proceeded on until we were out of the maze of tunnels and on a road clearly marked for Delores Hidalgo. I found a place to pull over and asked my guide how much he wanted for his services. He told me in Spanish that he wanted me to pay whatever I thought his services were worth. He had been with us for less than a half hour so I gave him $50 Pesos and asked him if that was enough. His eyes lit up and he assured me it was more than fair. It was only about $5 CAN to me but to him it was a day's pay for a Mexican labourer and obviously much more than he expected. We shook hands and both went away happy.

I pulled over as soon as I could to inspect the roof damage. It was not as bad as I originally feared. There is some very slight fiberglass damage to the leading edge of the roof and some minor damage down the full length of the roof edge. The waterproof Eternabond tape that I applied five years ago to solve a pesky roof leak problem is badly torn and pulled off in many places and the metal trim piece that grips the rubber membrane of the roof and holds it to the sidewall is bent and distorted in a few places. I have not seen the top of the roof yet but I do not expect any problems there. I think I can repair it myself with a rubber mallet to pound the metal trim back into shape and a roll of wider Eternabond tape to cover everything up.

Eternabond is magical stuff! It is extremely sticky, UV proof, waterproof, resistant to extreme temperatures, has a 15 year life expectancy and is very easy to apply. It is available in the USA and Canada but most likely not in Mexico. I am thinking of trying to use Duct Tape as a temporary (two month) repair to get me home. I have put the question to my panel of experts on Escapees.com, an Internet RV Forum that I use extensively. The opinions are gathering as we speak...

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