This morning, Buddha and I wound our way up the steep, earth and gravel road to Raul’s. He’s the friendly neighborhood mechanic who’s been working on our 1986 Toyota Land Cruiser. We’re fairly certain that our car used to be a taxi for three reasons: it’s the same color as all the taxis here; people are always trying to hail us, and the car is a mess.
Raul has done a lot of work on our car: brakes, headlights, gearshift- I don’t know what he did with the gearshift, but it works now. We have to have a dependable car out here in the middle of nowhere, in the land of cowboys, on dangerous roads.
Off and on since April, Raul has been installing air conditioning. We don’t really need to air condition the car, since we live in the mountains, but during the rainy season, or on a drive to the coast, it’s a plus.
One thing we really like about Raul is that he’ll drive to your house with your car when it’s done. That’s a bonus during the rainy season, when mud turns the already beastly climb into a piece of treachery.
We drive up the road and leave the car with Raul. He says, “Manana estará listo, a las dos.” That means, it’ll be ready at 2 tomorrow. We always hope that he’ll deliver.
Since April, we’ve made that trip up the road almost every Monday, and then, on Wednesday, when we call and say, “Necesitamos el caro ahora,” – we need the car now- he drives it back to us, unfinished. He always tells me why, but my Spanish is limited.
This air conditioning job has been a big one, and we’re fairly confident that Raul has never done it before. He’s had to install hoses, a compressor, a radiator, condenser, and all the electrical stuff. And there were the trips to San Jose to find the parts.
We understand that things take time. What we can’t make sense of, is that he looks us in the eye every week, and smiles, and promises the car for the following day. It seems to be a cultural thing. “You have to remember,” says our neighbor, Dave, “that Ticos will never disappoint you.”
“Excuse me?” I ask, thinking of the no-less-than 15 times that Raul has promised the car for manana, and not delivered. “Do you promise?” I asked him once. “Claro que si,”- of course- he assured me. Was it ready? No way.
This morning, when I arrived at the garage, sweating and hot, Raul said, “No esta lista.” It’s not ready. It was supposed to be ready by early afternoon yesterday. “But it’ll be ready by 2, and I’ll drive it to you,” he said. Right now, it’s 3 o’clock. Guess I’m heading back up the hill- in the rain. Pura Vida.