Tires become big on this trip. Luckily I had noticed that the spare was punctured before leaving San Francisco and made a note to get it fixed in Mexico. Baja California is the best place in the world for car repair. Garages are so used to fixing things rather than replacing them that I feel much more confident here than in the US when things go wrong. Go wrong they do. On the trip down we stop in Guerrero Negro to find a Llantera, these are tire repair outfits that line the roadside, to fix the spare as we are about to head off-road into the mountains. It looks like someone has jammed a hunting knife through the tire and it looks very dead to me.
No problem, the llantera-ist sticks a huge patch on the inside as we eat seafood tacos on the roadside.
We now have four good tires and a very dubious spare.
Some time later we are hammering down a dirt road on the way to the mythical Playa de Mallarimo, onto which the ocean currents wash amazing bounty from the Pacific, spices from the Philippines, cases of wine from Singapore, dancing girls from Hawaii, boxes of IPads from China, or so a guy in a bar told me, when we become aware of a strange noise.
Out we get to find that the rear right tire, one of the good ones, has completely shredded. The Range Rover has self-leveling air suspension and the only symptom of a major blowout at 70 mph was the noise.
We put on the dodgy spare.
Do we want to head out into the wilderness on terrible roads with one very weak tire and no spare, probably not, so we head to the nearest town Bahia Tortugas to seek help. The folks at the Llantera explain that Mr. Tire is having lunch and that we should come back in an hour. I should explain that these tire shops are not like those to which we have become accustomed with racks and racks of beautiful new tires in every size and color. These are shacks with piles of bald tires, a floor of oil-drenched sand, a bath of dirty water and big iron levers. The chances of them having a tire that will fit a 2000 Range are not good. But as usual when we get back there is a reasonable 3rd hand tire on the rim and we are ready to go.
The next day we are blasting north when there is a familiar noise, which marks the end of the dodgy spare. We put on the tire from Bahia Tortugas to discover it is actually a bit bigger, the tire wall is higher, than the others, so giving the truck a quaint lift at the right hand rear. On we go with only 1500 miles to home. It is New Years Day but we drive into a lonesome Llantera on some high plateau.
He has a 4th hand tire that will fit but the tread width is a size smaller. Who cares?! So as I write this at the camp in Catavina, we have 3 good tires and two heavily used, wrong-sized tires and only 1200 miles to go. Are we downhearted? No!
Now in Seattle Airport – we made it!