Suddenly I find myself crossing over the Rio Grande into the USA. In Mexico it is hot but I can see a cold front rolling in from the North as I chat to the friendly but firm customs guy. By the time I get into Brownsville it is cold, raining and getting dark. I run for a motel.
I head North to Corpus Christi, hunting the Whooping Crane. I pull into a Denny’s for breakfast and beside the restaurant is Discount Tire shop.
The truck needs tenderness. Her tires are very worn and the exhaust system is hanging on by cable ties and USB cables.
“Sir, get yourself some breakfast and coffee. We will have new tires on your truck by the time you are finished.”
I love the US! I have a great breakfast and sure enough the truck is re-shod when I stroll back to Custom Tires.
I get to Corpus Christi and track down Flanagan’s Muffler Shop. It is in a wasteland of auto-shops, scrapyards, interlaced with roads that are as wide as most motorways in the rest of the world.
Dale, who is the boss, is very, very Texan, small, wiry and unshaven. He is completely on top of his job. He runs the truck onto the ramp and informs, ” Have to change out the muffler buddy. A lot of these young boys come to replace their mufflers for something loud. I got a stack of used mufflers for your truck out back. They are stainless steel and will last longer than you will buddy. I can put on one of those for $200 or I can get y’all a replacement part from Toyota but they are mild steel. They ain’t worth shit and will cost y’all more than twice as much.”
“Sorry buddy, the boys can’t do it tonight, we are kinda backed up.” It is 5:00 in the evening.
“OK, I guess I can find a hotel and come back tomorrow.”
” If y’all want, y’all can pull up the truck out back and sleep there. The boys can get right on it tomorrow morning.”
Dalemay have lots of guns and perhaps votes Trump but he is a hell of a guy. Like Gunga Din, I feel he is a better man than I. He has my total admiration.
Both the tires and muffler replacements were so, er, life enhancing. The truck is as fit as a weasel. Watch out Whooping Cranes!
The US really is an extraordinary place. That “Thankyou Jesus” sign seems like something from outer space. Really friendly and helpful people who believe that assault rifles must be kept available to ordinary people because of something politicians decided hundreds of years ago. It’s different. Having new tyres and exhaust must be like getting new walking boots and lower bowel – great!
It ain’t Surrey!