When it rains, it pours. In fact, all of our troubles started with a rainstorm. Tijuana is not built for the small amounts of rain we get here. I of course, hailing from Oregon, find anything under 5 months of rain straight as a small amount. Nevertheless, it rained a couple of inches over a couple of days, and every dirty storm drain became clogged with the debris that washes downhill. Backed-up storm drains cause flooded roads and standing water that mask the axle-breaking potholes underneath. Common sense would tell one not to plow through these puddles. But things happen.
Christmas eve morning, I got an early call to rescue my sister-in-law because her car broke down on her way to the line. She tried to drive through said puddle and stalled out. Oi vey. We came in my truck, and while I took her on her errands, Hector had her car towed. No biggie, she and I can carpool to work. It takes a little longer, but it's not the end of the world. I had to go to work that evening, so I took my sister-in-law back to Mexico and I left again. I finished my shopping before work, leaving Hector with exact instructions for Cecilia's big Santa gift. At work, I arrived early and wrapped up what I bought. I worked my 8 hour shift, then headed home, hoping and praying that the kids were in bed, asleep, so I could finish wrapping the presents.
When I-5 reaches the border it ends. There's a very sharp turn at the end onto a road that drives between the two fences and on into Mexican customs. As I was driving into this sharp curve, my clutch jammed in neutral and gave out. I used what little momentum that I had left to edge my car to the side of the road, while cars going 40 or 50 MPH sped past me. In this border purgatory zone, cell phones get confused. They don't know if they want to bounce off US towers or Mexican towers. In most cases, your phone will lose signal all together. I left my car with it's hazards blinking and walked along the fence until I got a small amount service. I let Hector know what was happening. I learned at this time that he never went to get Cecilia her gift- so she would have no Santa gift on Christmas morning. I tried really hard to push all of this anger down and deal with the disaster at hand. There was no way Hector could rescue me where I was. At the moment I began to feel some despair, a kind gentleman stopped and asked if I needed help. I explained the situation and he offered to push me through customs into Mexico, meaning I could avoid an international tow truck.
There was much crunching coming from the repeated bumping of our cars together, but customs didn't bother stopping us, and I made it into Mexico. The man's light was half out and his license plate was all banged up, but he just wanted a hug and said, "It's Christmas". I don't know who he was, but he completely saved me that night. Thank you Mystery Truck guy! Once in Mexico, Hector came to my rescue. As we sat in my car, we waited for a tow truck. Who was I going to find on Christmas Eve night- one of the biggest parties in Mexican culture- to tow my car? My brother-in-law called 4 places and we finally got an answer from a guy who was already going home. A mile tow ended up costing about $40 USD and we tipped him graciously. It was about 1 a.m. When we got home, and my brother-in-law dropped off the kids, wide-awake.
Stress was running high, and Hector and I fought a bit over the fact that Cecilia wasn't going to get her gift. We're real like that, I promise. Finally around 4 am, I made it to bed. The Secret of Santa had been revealed to Cecilia age 10, and I was heartbroken for her. I was hoping to enjoy a few more years of the Christmas magic with her. I never finished gift wrapping. I was so tired after everything, the gifts just sat out.
Christmas morning was a relaxed one after the night before. We eventually got up and opened the presents that were under the tree, then we went out to church. Since our main car was out, and my sister-in-law's car was out, we were all carpooling in Hector's Subaru. Hector made the remark about "At least this car's still running". On our way home from church, we were headed up the hill where my brother-in-law lives. Hector noticed the car was not pulling as well as it usually does, and it was starting to overheat. Once we pulled in front of the house, Hector's car, our last working vehicle, shut off. We let it cool, then began to check it out. There was no water in it. We added some water and it dripped right out of the bottom. The Subaru's water pump blew. Rock bottom apparently has a very dark basement.
The problem is that I work 30 miles or so from the border. There is not a bus that goes to my job, and I get off from work very late at night. However, I can't not work. My family depends on me. So, my sister-in-law and I planned to bus it to our jobs. She is fortunate that the bus goes very close to her job. When I get to the town where I work, I have a two-mile walk. However, we can go half way together, and misery loves company. The morning of the 26th, as we're contemplating how to fix all of our cars, we get a phone call- someone stole our license plate off of Hector's car.
Anyone at this point, heading into Rock Bottom's Sub-Basement, would naturally feel a bit defeated. I know that I do. I am tired, angry, sad, and overwhelmed. I know all of these problems are still fixable. However, who can prepare for all of them, all at once, on Christmas of all things? I have been on the bus all week, getting very acquainted with San Diego's public transit system, and deciding that the walk to work is worth the exercise. I miss driving myself home, when it's cold and I'm stuck on the mercy of others to have pity on me and take me to the trolley stations somewhere in South County so that I don't end up stranded. It's humbling and humiliating, but I am trying (and failing) to let it sanctify me. I feel a lot like Job lately, so I must remember that suffering is rewarded when suffered for God.
Hopefully 2017 brings sunshine instead of rain storms.