Words by Gary
17 days. The minuscule amount of time it took to become victims of our virgin smash and grab episode in Mexico. I’d be kidding myself if I said we’d make the long trek south unscathed, but in all honesty I thought I’d be given a longer grace period. Bastardos!
To rub salt in the wounds it happened in the most chilled out place we’ve visited in our travels so far. Zipolite. Think Nimbin meets Ballina, where the locals refuse to shift out of first gear.
The damage? One smashed rear passenger window, chipped paint and bodywork, a purse full of pesos, kids sunnies and a 2008 Mitsubishi Montero manual. Happy reading amigos. Yep, bundles of fun for all.
So I’m thinking bored teenagers, who clocked the car was owned by ‘gringos’, and chanced their luck on a stinking hot afternoon when we were lazing on the beach.
What most filled me with dread was the excruciating phone exchanges with my insurance company. Process in Mexico has a whole new meaning and my limited Spanish would present a few challenges along the way.
To start with, our likeable yet languid owners of the B & B we were staying at suggested we keep the police away from the incident. This was backed up by our insurance company a short phone call later. Alrighty then.
A couple of hours later we’d been assured that an assessor would arrive that evening to inspect the car and validate our claim. He arrived early the following morning, prompting me to stumble and grumble out of bed, and in my hazy stupor I kicked my iPhone6 so decisively off our mezzanine level bedroom floor that it suffered a similar fate to our shattered rear window. Make that two insurance claims then.
To replace the window we’d need to take the car to an authorised vendor in a city of our choice. Strangely our insurance company didn’t list Mitsubishi as an authorised vendor. Grrrr! The first workshop estimated delivery of the glass in 5-7 working days. The second 10-12 working days and the third around 3 weeks. We were a family on the go and a large portion of our accommodation was booked in advance, so we needed to allow for the glass to arrive at a designated workshop in a town that coincided with our travels.
More importantly there was the small matter of safety. In Mexico City you’re advised to keep your windows up and doors locked when you’ve come to a stop. A missing window leaves you highly vulnerable and limits where and how you leave your car. I’d be lying if I said the ordeal wasn’t a tad stressful.
I can’t quantify the number of phone calls we made or the foul-mouthed tirades I muttered but it was a wholly exasperating experience. Rachel to her credit exuded a calming influence from start to finish and set a shining example to the kids on how to manage a crisis. My problem was I wanted it solved on Day 1, or 2 at a stretch.
In the end we drove into the Mitsubishi dealership in Tuxtla, the capital of Chiapas and persuaded them to ship the new glass in three days. From the outset they said five working days but we’ve learned in Mexico you never accept the first response that comes your way. Persistence and resilience will get you everywhere.
Fast forward a few weeks and the window is replaced, the claim has been paid, my Spanish has improved, my patience knows no limits, and we have a moderately interesting story to tell. If you’re planning on hitting Zipolite in the near future and someone offers to sell you a used Mitsubishi Montero manual, do me a favour and let me know.