The other day we went to get a stereo installed in our car. As much as I love delving into another culture, about ten minutes of Mexican music is enough to get a feel for things and then it’s onwards and arguably upwards to a bit of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke.
We had already bought a nice little Sony for about $70 at the local supermarket, with USB and Aux so we could listen to the vast library of music which sits on my laptop and is heard only through the tinny tiny speakers which adorn its front. Finally, I would be able to listen to music the way god intended – ear-burstingly loud!
In true us form these days it took about 3 weeks from stereo purchase, to actually getting around to finding somewhere to install it, and in true me form it has taken priority over the leaky air conditioner because music is more important than mechanical failure. We set off one early weekday morning (I am not sure what day because I don’t pay attention to those things anymore, and it was probably not early for most at around 0930, but for myself who is always surprised to wake up before 9 these days, it was the crack of dawn).
We had no plans on this particular day to do such a thing as the car stereo install, but we also had no other plans, so decided that this day was as good as any. We jumped in the car and our year-2000-Nissan stereo with its tape deck and CD player blasted out a surprisingly and lawsuit worthy Mexican rendition of The Police’s – ‘Every step you take’. Thank baby haysoos that would soon be over. Off we drove with purpose and a sort-of destination in mind. I had read there was a stereo installer guy not too far from us and so the search was on.
About 10 minutes later we pulled up to a store which looked like they might do installs and I proceeded to inquire as to whether this was the case. It went something like, “Auto stereo installer por favor?” To which the response was something like “Que” (what?). To which I responded with the exact same statement just louder and more slowly, adding hand gestures which would have made little sense to anyone regardless of language. Somehow they deciphered my drivel and pointed up the road.
I departed and noticed in the distance a little blue and yellow building with a weather damaged cardboard sign outside which said something like “autostereo installar” and some other stuff which I am sure makes sense to speakers of the lingo. Diamond.
We parked up outside the little shop and entered what was most definitely first and foremost a TV repair place with a bit of radio installation on the side. Giant back breaking TV sets which we would throw away in the West were crammed into corners waiting for the no doubt deft hand of the plump little Mexican repairman behind the counter.
“Hola, como estas” I said in perfectly shite Spanish, and then having exhausted my conversational abilities broke into gesture riddled English with as few prepositions and conjunctions (small words, I had to look it up…) as possible. This was not necessary as the fellow spoke a wee bit of English and had the gist of things at “You install car radio?”.
“Cuanto es?” I said, overly proud of this little bit of Spanish I had managed to remember (how much).
$250 pesos or about $20 US was the damage – about ten percent the cost of an install in Perth. With that we got down to the nitty gritty. For the sake of not having to explain each bit of broken conversation passed between us, just imagine everything being said here being said about three times with terrible grammar and extreme furrowing of the brow…
The Install, first attempt
Because the Nissan’s original stereo was a double sized one, and the new stereo a single, I was sent by my Installar friend to a place down the road to buy the fitting. I purchased my model and year and brought it back for him to get going with the install (no waiting, he went straight ahead with it). I handed over the keys and let him know we were going down the road to “Billy the Kid’s Tacos” for lunch.
About half an hour later we returned to a sweaty exerted ‘installar’ guy back in his shop. “Completo?” I inquired, guessing at the word for finished.
“No, there is a problemo,” was the unwanted response, “I can’t get the screw out of the dash” (remember broken english, three times, furrowed brow).
The poor fellow had been trying to get a rusty screw out of the dash for half an hour. I jumped in the car and with the gusto of someone who has completely given up on aesthetics, bashed the screw driver tip below the screw, wedged it in and popped her out. Success!
The big little fella jumped back in and got started while we sat on the pavement chatting away. About twenty minutes later he came over and said, “Problemo, the fitting you bought doesn’t fit” (x3, furrowed brow)
The Install, second attempt
O-o-k-k, so back to the guy down the road. And more broken questions, “no we don’t have anything else, why doesn’t it fit? Ask gordita to come here,” (gordita is like a cute-ish way of saying chunky). So back to the installer to request his presence at the fittings shop.
At this point we were all kinds of lost as to what was what and a wee bit skeptical about whether this endeavor was going to pan out or not.
“I can’t leave my shop” said the installer. I replied with a shoulder shrug and a look which said in a clearer fashion than my Spanish, “So now what?”
Realizing that he needed to get this done, he pointed to Sarah and said “Watch my shop please” and then the two of us wondered down the road while Sarah manned the front desk of the TV/ Auto installer shop. I can’t imagine that happening in Perth.
To cut things a bit shorter here, it turns out we have an American car and the fittings are Mexican, so there was no chance of finding one that fit.
The Install, final attempt and success!
“Solution!” My installer friend suggested. “We glue it in?”
And this is the beauty of Mexico. Anywhere else I have lived (I’m looking at you Perth), in a situation like this the install would have been canceled, I would have had to pay something, and would have been told to come back in X amount of days or weeks when the part was available. My little round friend however had a big old tube of super glue and pulled a McGyver.
“Si! Glue it in por favor!”
20 minutes later the fitting was glued with some sort of super cement glue stuff and unlikely to budge ever from anything short of an apocalypse involving bad roads and poor shocks. Sure there is a bit of the fitting showing through, and the glue has leaked through the front of the dash. But dammit we have music again! A fully functioning (almost) stereo and surprisingly loud stock speakers.
The almost is because the radio doesn’t work, it doesn’t work because the plug from the aerial to the stereo uses a different socket, and despite Gordito letting us drive around for an hour with our dash hanging out while we looked for an adapter (without having paid, trusting little fella) we couldn’t find one in all of Playa del Carmen.
“No necessito” I stated, “just close it up por favor.”
We paid him, thanked him and drove off with our ultra chic and wonderfully unique modified sound system. Now completely lacking in music because the radio didn’t work and we hadn’t bought a USB stick or Auxiliary cable yet.
An hour later and we had music cranked to ridiculous levels pumping through the streets of Playa!
Our stereo may not suit the decor of the car, and it may look like someone glued it in (because they did), but it plays music and I don’t have to go back days or weeks later thanks to the ingenuity of a little round Mexican fella whose name I never bothered to learn (it’s kind of a thing with me, names and the ability or desire to remember them).
We returned home at about three in the afternoon, worn out from a long day. We then laughed at the idea that what we had just done should be considered a long day. We treated ourselves to a serve of cake and ice cream and then lay back to watch a bit of telly.
Such is life in Mexico and such are Mexicans. I love it!
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