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The score is now Police 1 – Cactus Trippers 2, as we sighed a huge sigh of relief as we hit the toll road out of Mexico City back to Tehuacan.

We had a bit of a problem with the hotel shuttle service to the Europcar depot. On 2nd February this went perfect, but this time, the same minibus but a different driver took us to the airport’s Terminal 1. ‘No’, we explained, ‘we need to go to the Europcar depot, just a mile or so farther on.’ ‘No’, said the driver, ‘I just run a free shuttle between the hotel and terminals 1 & 2’. ‘How much extra to take us to the Europcar depot?’ ‘Is not possible!’ ‘OK, take us back to the Hotel!’

Back at the Hotel we unloaded all our gear and two senior managers intervened, but the job’s worth driver stuck to his gun – I wonder if he still has a job by now. Fortunately there was a taxi driver on hand to take us for the equivalent of GBP 4. Alain & I had not done a ‘flight pack’ so I had lots of bits and pieces which once again had to be loaded up, this time to the taxi.

We arrived at Europcar without incident, unloaded all our bits & pieces into the reception area, where I was asked for the car rental voucher. I explained that as we had made the booking on the road, I had no print out, but could show the receptionist the emails etc on my laptop. Great, yes please? So where was my laptop? In my rucksack. Which was where? On the way back to the hotel still in the back of the taxi! At least, we hoped so. The receptionist at Europcar called the hotel who confirmed that the taxi had just returned and, yes, the bag was still on the backseat and the driver was on his way to deliver it back to me. Phew!

First essential to check out: could we fit behind the steering wheel of the smaller Chevrolet Aveo? Yes, just!  Next, was there a socket to plug in the SatNav? Yes. Did it work? No!!! Ten minutes of mechanics in oily clothes climbing over the car had changed the fuse that had blown. The socket was operational again! Phew!!

The sigh of relief as we hit the MEX150D tollroad past the danger zone for crooked police officers (assumed).

About halfway ‘home’ to Tehuaca, Alain noticed that the engine malfunction light was on. We pulled into the next Pemex Station where three ladies in oily overalls disappeared under the bonnet of the car and checked oil levels etc. All given the OK. So we drove on – light still on.

Now at our Hotel, Alain checked the support page for the Chevrolet Aveo and learned that this is an issue reported by many owners. One explanation seems to be that the breather tube on the fuel tank is not functioning properly so that a vacume builds up. A malfunction light that stays on all the time seems not to be a disaster, but with one that flashes it is best to give the car a rest and call for help. Ours is on all the time, even after we left the car to stand at the hotel and opened the fuel filler cap.

We’ll have a margarita to discuss what to do. Probably nothing, until we reach Villahermosa, the capital of the State of Tabasco, where there is a Europcar service agent.


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