Thursday, September 15, 2016

MacGyver Mechanic

Vehicles...we have been working for years, saving, trying to figure out what is best for use here, etc.  It has been a hard road,  pardon the pun.

Along the way, for quite a few years, we have had the help of Roberto Arnoudts.  He is a mechanic, works out of his home, on the street, or on our property, depending on availability.

The huge advantage to using Roberto is that he can fix something temporarily, on the cheap, to last, or top quality, depending on what kind of budget and time is available.

Recently we discovered that the turbo attached to the Land Cruiser for Talanga was not from the factory, but something the original owner (the owners of the Toyota dealership interestingly enough) adapted for more power.  Quite the expense...but after some investigating, explained the problems we were having with oil consumption.  So a rebuild of part of the engine was required...and removing the turbo.  The quick fix (later properly fixed, was "adapting" a PVC plumbing pipe to connect the motor to the air filter.  Pretty ingenious I thought, and cheap.  Worked for a pinch, no problem.

Sometimes we get busy, talk about trucks, cars, personal problems, God, societal ills...but until this week I had never known exactly how to spell his last name.  I stopped this week and just realized how could I know someone so well, and see him so often and not know that?   So, upon going over it with him...I remarked it seemed French, not Spanish.  Turns out, it is...his grandfather was French, came to Honduras to work in the mines of San Juancito establishing/keeping it going, the needed electricity at the turn of the century, where he met his wife, Roberto's grandmother.  Life eventually took them to Danli, where Roberto's dad was born, and where Roberto was born.  His grandfather was also a mechanic among other things.  Roberto, after serving several years with the military (during which time he drove supply trucks during that were fired upon during the whole Sandinista issues down by the border with Nicaragua...getting a borrowed non-military truck eliminated the shots when it looked just like any other truck) he moved to Tegucigalpa and started working as a mechanic.

It was during his military time, and then as a neighbor he met Teto (seen here crouching looking at the glow plugs of the Land a position I would never have thought to attempt and he achieved with no thought/effort/problem.)  Teto worked for us much of last year on several welding projects.  They work together on occasion as well, as today.  

We talked about his extended family that day standing by the Land Cruiser.  Talked about so many cousins that choose not to spend time with him or his family, that are extremely wealthy (importing most of the fake Chinese clothing sold on the streets here.)  I asked him why, he responded quite matter of factly that rich people do not want to hang out with poor people, even if they are family.

We are getting a much better handle about our trucks, reliability, and longevity for the long term of the mission, but it is always good to know Roberto is there when we need him.  If only his grandfather had taught him French for us to practice!