Picking Up a Truck Driver at the Oaxaca Big Box

Out in front of the largest warehouse big box retailers in Oaxaca (you will tar and feather me if I mention the name), you can usually find a truck driver willing to carry the goods you just bought to anywhere in the city or surrounding villages — for a price.  This is an essential and valuable service for someone like me who is living here without personal transportation.  But, I’d never done this before and true confession is that I had a large butterfly in my stomach.

The only choice this day was a skinny, motley looking 30-something young man in need of a shave, his red baseball cap with Drink Coors emblazoned across the front tipped at a right angle.  He was wearing faux leather and metal.  I did not feel confident. As we began negotiating the cost to bring my new bed to Teotitlan del Valle, he raised his phone to his ear to check the price with his boss. That’s when I noticed a pinky fingernail longer than a guitar pick and wondered what he used that for.  His frame was thin and his belt was pulled tight around his waist, puckering the pants material.  It was a January hot like an early North Carolina autumn, dry and clear.  I needed to stand in the shade.  We agreed on a price.  Fair, I thought.  Did I say I was confident?

I pushed on, went in to make the bed purchase with the help of Abraham my trusty Teotiteco taxi driver, and waited the 40 minutes for it to come out of the warehouse and arrive at the front door, where the Truck Driver would take over.  There, standing next to him was a robust young woman with an about three-year-old boy in tow.  My wife, he introduced her.  My fear melted.  Then, an Ah, perhaps a ploy, I thought, headline: Woman accomplice with child decoy and long finger-nailed man kidnap naive gringa in front of the You Know What.

I’m driving, she said, and climbed in behind the wheel.  I joined her in the front seat of a beat-to-death Ford whose vintage I could not name.  The windshield was a series of spider webs that refracted light through the pattern.  Four crucifixes dangled from the rear-view mirror, one adorned with pearls, another with rose quartz beads.   A decal of the chauffeur’s prayer in Spanish was stuck to the only part of the windshield that wasn’t shattered. I pulled the door closed using the half-open window.  The inside panel was peeling off and by all evidence it had lost it’s handle some time ago.  The child straddled the floor shift between us. He was crying and I pulled a quinciniera lollypop out of my bag.  The bed went into the flatbed leaning against the modified rusting metal cage.

Whew.  She’s driving to me Teotitlan and I sighed deep.  We backed out of the space and exited the lot.  Just before we pulled out onto the highway, a boy of about 15  years old jumped onto the back of the truck holding on to the cage, leaning against the bed.  In a couple of blocks we stopped for a traffic light.  A motorcycle pulled up beside us and there was the husband with the long fingernail.  She made a right turn and drove through a residential neighborhood of narrow streets lined with simple block-constructed houses, landing up in front of one of them, turned the engine off and got out.  Adios, she said with a big smile. Gulp.

In climbs husband, who proceeds to drive me to Teotitlan.  I promise to go slow he said as we rocked over the series of topes (speed bumps) on the Ferrocarril road.  I pulled out my knitting.  Breathe, I said to myself.  He talked about his father who moved to Garden Grove, California, 20 years ago, television shows that impress with images of the U.S.A. as a pastoral landscape with perfect people in perfectly clean cities driving expensive cars and living well.  We talked about the reality of those images, immigration and lifestyle and poverty and jobs as we went from hustling Oaxaca city life into the calm of the countryside.

The bed was delivered without incident, of course.  He dropped me off at my favorite Teotitlan restaurant for lunch on the way back.  I paid what we negotiated plus a good tip.  All was well in my world.

Is Oaxaca safe?  Confirmation. Yes.



16 responses to “Picking Up a Truck Driver at the Oaxaca Big Box

  1. Norma,
    I love your blog and can fully appreciate the “need to knit” in your story. I am curious about whether you think such “trucks for hire” would deliver to farther away destinations such as Huajuapan de Leon. I don’t have a delivery in mind, but could if it were available.

    Keep having fun . Thanks for all you do.
    Mary in Virginia

  2. Lovely funny story!
    Thanks, and sweetest of dreams in your new bed !!

  3. Hola Norma — espero todo esta bien para ti! I am on the Treasure Coast of Florida for about a month; a friend offered me a place to stay so off I went to explore another part of the world. Will return to Oaxaca the first week of March; can’t wait to leave the humidity behing. Noted your exploration of Calle Hidalgo – next time you’re in that neighborhood stop by the restaurante entre Manuel Doblado (Libres?) y Xicoténcatl on the south side of the street — great breakfasts for $55 w/ a glass of juice; comida corrida most days for less. I especially recommend the huevos revueltos con jamón which comes with a bit of salad, beans, tortillas. They have amazing enfrijoladas con pierna; lots of people stopping by for a few quick tacos or a pickup of a torta. Muy Sabroso!! I’m not sure they have a name but there is a rug at the right side entrance that notes “Sabor de la Abuela”. Also can recommend the shipping place called Envios Ramos on Xicoténcatl entre Hidalgo y Guerrero. And lastly — there is a truck for hire place on Guerrero west of Manuel Doblado on the north side. As I’ve not needed their services you might stop by to see if they leave the city and their prices. They seem to be popular; trucks seem to be in better repair; I’ve noticed the drivers cleaning their vehicles while they wait for a hire.
    wishing you joy, Mary

    • Mary, these are wonderful tips and recommendations! Thank you for sharing them. And, I will think about that truck-for-hire place the next time I need something big moved from the city to the pueblo. And, the restaurant sounds GREAT. Hope to see you in March when you return. Enjoy Florida.

  4. great story of trust and kindness. thanks for sharing!

  5. Lovely story! Well written, too. Gracias.

  6. I gulped, too, but enjoyed every bump of the ride, recalling familiar trepidations. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Great narrative and pr for safety as well!

  8. Thoroughly enjoyed this. I write from Philadelphia, but love Oaxaca, maybe someday from a closer perspective for a longer time than a visit. And it’s good to know that getting my bed from the Oaxacan Big Box You Know What to Who Knows Exactly Where I’ll Be without personal transportation is likely to be another safe adventure, Oaxacan style.

    • Bryan! It is wonderful to be able to stay longer. Finalemente, estoy jubilada! And, I get to be here for as long as I want. That’s not to say that without personal transport life is easy! I do wish I had my own beat-to-death camioneta! Let me know when you are here next 🙂 Abrazos, Norma

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *