My family and I were on vacation in Mexico when I was young. We were in our 1966 Ford station wagon that my Dad bought as a NASA guard surplus car. It was Air Force blue and had the first under dash cruise control I had seen. I had recently gotten my first 35 mm camera and had a couple of lenses with it. We were on our way to Mazatlan, Mexico which is on the Pacific Coast. I told my Dad that I wanted to get a picture of an iguana. As we were going through the Mexican desert there was not a lot to see and no traffic, so we were cruising about 80 mph. I always rode in the far back of the wagon, my brothers rode in the middle seat while Mom and Dad were up front. Mom would read books to us as we drove. One book I recall was about Andrew Murray who smuggled Bibles into foreign countries. As we were moving along the highway, Dad saw an iguana crossing the road. He told me to get ready while he slowed down. We passed the point where the iguana crossed the road but before Dad stopped the car, he threw it in reverse. We were going faster than he thought we were. The iguana was long gone so I did not get my picture and the wagon’s transmission was not working so well. Dad got the car going again but it was not driving like it should. We sort of limped along the last stretch of the trip into Mazatlan.
We checked into a hotel across the street from the beach. The next morning Dad asked where he could take the car to have the transmission fixed. There was a Ford dealer not far away, so he dropped the car off there. Since we did not have a car to get around Mazatlan, we went to a car rental place to get one for the next few days. We rented a Volkswagen Thing that was white with black zebra stripes. I thought that was a cool car! It had no top, so it was fun to drive along the beach road.

Our hotel was across the street from the Mexican Navy base which was not big. From our upper floor balcony, we watched the Navy raise the flag each morning as a trumpet played. The group of about 15 sailors would stand at attention and salute the Mexican flag. They took the flag back down at sunset in the same routine. We got a kick out of watching this small group as they went about their day. One afternoon they could not get their troop truck started so they all pushed while the driver popped the clutch and the truck coughed to life. They all climbed into the back of the truck and left a blue cloud of smoke as they drove away from their base. Another time they could not get one of their boats started and after about half a day of working on it, they ended up towing it away with another boat.
Mazatlan is a beautiful city at night. I took a lot of time exposures of the city lights along with beach with the moon as a backdrop. Some of those pictures turned out well. Back in those days I used Kodachrome slides so the good shots I transferred to print in my darkroom back home.

While we waited for our car to be repaired, we enjoyed the beach. One time as we were surfing, I had rolled up my shirt with my glasses in it and put it under the steps that led from the road to the beach. When we were ready to go back to the hotel, my shirt was missing along with some other things we left there. From that point on, I had no glasses. Dad kept a spare pair of his glasses in the glove box of the station wagon, so we got those. I could see better but not as well as I did with my own glasses. Plus, I did not look cool with the old plastic frame glasses, so I mostly went without them. Ah, the life of a young teenager. Today I would not care what I looked like.

We enjoyed driving our rented car, the VW Thing. My big brother Johnny had recently got his drivers license so he drove the Thing with my younger brother Donny and I riding along most everywhere when we were not at the beach. We thought we were so cool.
One afternoon while Mom and I were sitting on our balcony I saw our station wagon drive pass. We got excited that our car was fixed. Then a few minutes later we saw the car going the opposite direction…. in reverse. So, it may not be fixed just yet. Dad, my brothers and I went to the Ford dealer to get an update on our car. Apparently, the transmission had to come back out because it was not fixed yet. I recall Dad asking the service manager for an update. The manager turned to the mechanic and asked him in Spanish. When he asked, he must have said about a paragraph length of words and the mechanic replied, “Si”. My brothers and I started laughing and we could not stop. I knew enough Spanish to know that the manager described the situation as he knew it and the mechanic agreed. The manager then told Dad what the deal was; it was going to take a few more days before the transmission was fixed since they had to order some parts.

Back at the Hotel Mom was not a happy camper. We did not know how long we were stuck in Mazatlan. We made the best of it however, there could have been worse places to be stuck than at the beach. One day I found a hermit crab and brought it to the Hotel. I named it Pedro. That night Pedro got out of the box I had him in. We looked everywhere but could not find him. A couple of days later there was a bad smell in the room, Pedro had died under one of the beds.

One afternoon Dad went to check on the car and came back with some good news. The car was fixed, and we could go home! We turned in the VW Thing and packed up to leave early the next morning. Our original plan was to make the drive home a two-day trip with an overnight stop in Monterey, Mexico. Since we were in Mazatlan longer than planned, we were ready to get back home. We drove the entire distance in one drive. I do not recall how long that drive was, but we were so glad to pull into our driveway.

After all these years, it is easier to recall the fun exciting times but since we were stuck there for over a week with no end in sight while we waited for the car to be fixed, it was not all fun. It did not help when we would stop by to check on the car and it was during their daily siesta time. They took siesta for about two hours every afternoon. The VW Thing that was ours for that time was one of the fun parts. I had never seen a car like that before and it was a blast to ride around in. I did enjoy getting some cool pictures. I will have to look through the collection of slides to see if I can find some of those shots.