Monthly Archives: October 2010

A Missing Bolt

To be one bolt short of a fully functioning truck is indeed a unhappy event.

Allow me to explain the above quote with the following post. For in the duty of living life, I have encountered much busyness of schedule. To the extent that I have neglected writing of my tales. In light of this, I draw upon a recent event for my material.

It did come to pass that in the process of time we, and I speak of those that comprise the group which look after the welfare of vehicles and buildings, did undergo a significant transition. Tis normal for there to be solely twain of us; however, in the due course of time, my companion’s time did terminate and he returned to the land of Usa. But there arose in his place a ably equipped friend of ours, Companero J. We had bethought ourselves fortunate to have both known Companero J from times past in Usa. The time did arrive, though for my friends to take on differing roles at this point in time. My companion did betake his journey and Companero J began his time in the Land of Paraguay. I repeat the point of there being two of us on, what is called “The Maintenance Team”, to say that this compelled me, by length of stay in Paraguay, to take on a more responsible role. There be times that I do not mind this but there remain times that I do not care for such.

That to say this, there came a point in recent history that our fellow laborers of the clinic which do abide in a portion of land north of us did betake themselves on a short excursion to the land of south for a trip of R&R. But for this to happen, replacements must be obtained. I was not a replacement. I was solely the chauffeur. Arriving at yon clinic, I encountered no work. I have no recollection of greeting this news with gladness or sadness. Before the 4th hour had passed, I hankered after a activity to achieve. It had been rumored that perhaps there was a patient transfer from a hospital 90 minutes away to our locale. This I hoped would happen. Shortly thereafter, the call alerting us of this transfer came and I responded. In the process of leaving, I gazed upon distant storm clouds and distinctly remember a sense of joy at guiding my vehicle through the ways of mud. This attitude soon left me as will be revealed by my journal entry. To write of this adventure in the current tongue would discomfort too many electrons and twill save space to simply make use of a currently written piece.

Getting close to Lucero, I felt the steering on the truck start to go wa-oo. Making a mental note to check it out later, I kept driving. But it seemed to be getting worse and worse the further I drove. I got to Lucero and as I parked something seemed to slip and give way. Jumping out, I saw the front tires were splayed. Crunch, me thinks, working in 2 inches of mud is not my idea of fun. A bolt for the tie rod had come out and needed to be replaced. In about 20 minutes, I had everything apart and put back together. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the lack of a lock nut or washer on the replacement bolt. Sure enough, by Tres Palmas, 5 kilometers later, it had come out and needed fixing again. This time, it got afro-engineered even worse then before. I was hoping to limp back to Belleza and then fix it from there. But after about another 5 kilometers, my ‘fix’ snapped and I headed for the ditch. This time, I knew I couldn’t fix it. I was out of bolts and running low on patience, although I had 2 patients along. I called Ceferino, the deacon of the church in Belleza, to come and get the people that I had. Next, I called Jay and told him what I needed. Maynard came with him as well. I had been waiting for about a hour, staring at the windshield and watching the condensation build(a boring pastime) when a SUV pulls up and the driver wondered if I needed help. I told him that I had help coming and all was good. (I didn’t realize that he recognized the truck nor that he was a neighbor of ours in Camp 9). Close to a hour later, he comes by again, on the way out to C-9. He told me then who he was, the Lopez fellow who has the mechanic shop across the street. He also insisted I let them take a look at it. At a command in Guarini, 3 guys bailed out of the back door of that SUV. Impressive, considering that one American would have trouble fitting comfortably in that space. In about 15 minutes, they had the truck jacked up, the wheel and brake removed and were urging Maynard, who they knew, not having met Jay yet, to drive “fasser”. These guys aren’t known for their quality of work and I watched to make sure no funny stuff went on. But it was all good. Maynard didn’t show up for a good 20 minutes. They finally showed up and about 5 minutes later Ceferino does too. I told the people in my truck to go with Ceferino and I’ll bring my truck later. Well, till they were loaded up, my truck was ready to go. The Lopez Circus left and Maynard, Jay and their D-Max did likewise. I locked my sights on the fishtailing tail lights of Ceferino’s Isuzu and rumbled out. Being one bolt shy of a fully functioning truck is not a good feeling. But, flopping into bed at 2330, sure was a good feeling and I was glad it wasn’t worse.

Thus doth end this tail of mud puddles, missing bolts, rain and frustration. I did gain through this situation a newer appreciation for the Guarini-jabbering, horn-blowing, engine-revving Lopez auto workers from across the street. They appeared as angels in disguise in my need. This is not to say that I was incapable of fixing my wounded auto; only that I was lacking in the necessary parts. But help did come and I was grateful.

The Paraguayan Pilgrim

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The mowers

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When the one machine goes broke and we need to mow the lawn, we use what we have. When we tire of leg power, we engineer a faster way. When that mower goes broke, it’s time for a new machine. That is the story told in these 3 photos. Our John Deere riding machine has been kapputi for awhile. We discovered that the axle was cracked and thought we could get the part through our local dealer here in Paraguay. But they couldn’t and now the part is coming the 21st of October with some visitors. In pic #2, a faster way of using the push mower. We have to push mow the lawn when we need to mow and Maynard was willing enough to do just that. But by lunch time, he wanted a faster way. So he jury rigs a brace and fastens it to the back of our only functioning moto. No surprise, our other moto is in the shop. By the end of the day, the push mower gave up the ghost and a new one had to be bought. Still, nothing runs like a Deere and that axle is highly anticipated.

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God does work in Paraguay

From this past week’s journal, written for, Wednesday October the 6th.

  What a day. After Jay came back from taking Rhonda Brenneman, the new nurse for La Belleza, halfway to Belleza, he informed me that he lost a suitcase. Wheeeeww! This could be bad but for the moment, we went about doing our morning’s work. About 9 o’clock we went back to Berghtal to look for some items at the Bergthal Cooperative, their have-everything-you-need store. Finishing business there, we decided, after talking to Admin, to go on back to Raul where Jay thought he might have lost the bag. Raul is known for it’s rough streets and the thought was that there is where the tailgate might have fallen open. The catch was that Raul was a good 25 miles from where the 2 vehicles met. And if Raul is where the tailgate opened, then in those 25 miles, more bags should have fallen out. And the road did not allow a vehicle to travel the speed required for a bag to drop off a pickup bed, bounce on the road and land in the ditch. All in all, it looked hopeless. A bag sitting in the middle of the road is too inviting for a Paraguayan to leave alone. Their motto is, “If you find it, it’s yours”. But we decided to make an effort nonetheless. We stopped at various places, asking people if they know of a missing bag. No one did. Finally, at the last place we stopped at, the 2 guys I talked with seemed to take a interest in our mission of recovery. They said that we should place a ad on the local radio about the bag. When asked about cost, they told me that it was gratis. Cool, well if they can tell us where to go, we’ll give it a shot. They gave me some form of directions and after 15 minutes of driving around, we ended up at a building that looked like it could be a radio station. We tried to gain entrance but the doors and windows were all shut. Never mind the fact that the murmur of voices from within betrayed their presence, they weren’t about to make their presence known to us on the  outside. Leaving the place, we drove around to the little copetin where the 2 guys had been. They were still there and after asking them to place the ad for us and giving a description of the bag, we left for Camp 9 again, slightly frustrated at our lack of success. Jay took it harder than I did but I felt that we still had some hope. The people that agreed to help us in Raul seemed decent enough and I exchanged no money with them. Plus, they had the promise of a reward if their efforts payed off and we got the suitcase back.

  Getting back, Jay and I both went to work on our respective projects. Around 2:30 in the afternoon, when we were sitting around drinking tea, the neighbor man came over to get the battery that he had dropped off in the morning to be recharged. This is something that we do on a regular basis for him. He invited himself over to drink tea and in the course of conversation, the suitcase came up. He asked what we did and when told, he said that we should put a ad on a bigger radio station that is only about 20 miles away from Raul. I told him that I had been advised about doing so but didn’t want to. I thought it was too far out of the way. In hindsight, I wished I would have. It would have saved some time and headache. Back to the neighbor man, he was convinced we should and after calling around, got the number of the radio station for us. He begins talking to someone and then, in the middle of the conversation, hands the phone to me. Having talked with numerous Paraguayans who have almost unintelligible Spanish because of their Guarini influence, I didn’t want to talk. But the spoken Spanish on the other end was clear and distinct and the phone call went great. He told me that he had “a” bag and I nearly fell of my chair. I asked for some details and everything matched what Jay and Rhonda had told me in describing the bag. I was stunned almost speechless and after flagging down the 2 clinic girls who were fixing to leave with the only vehicle we had, finished my phone call. Jay and I both ran to the truck, jumped in, and headed for Tres Palmas, where the radio station is at. As we left the drive, I remembered a rumor that Roman, the administrator at La Belleza, was bringing a patient from Belleza to Lucero and would be passing through Tres Palmas on his way back to Lucero. He was at Lucero when I called him and would gladly pick up the suitcase. Wow! What incredible timing! Jay and I had hoped to be able to take it back to Belleza and, without telling anyone, magically appear, drop off the suitcase and return to Camp 9. As it was, the people at the Belleza clinic found out about the bag a short while later.

In a culture where the “I” is predominant, the fact that a truck load of construction workers were honest enough to drop the suitcase off at a pastor’s home who in turn took it to the radio station where it was broadcasted over the airwaves, is amazing. Almost miracle-like. All God!

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