I have a dedicated crew of guys that are mostly from one family down in the interior of Mexico. The first of these fellows came to work for me around 1980. Leoncio or Shorty, the name I gave him shortly after he arrived, has been the leader of the group since they arrived here to go to work and has been the one person I can always depend on. But the whole group of brothers, sons, brother in laws, nephews and cousins are every one very hard working and honest people.
Shorty’s dad, the patriarch of the family was a farmer in Mexico. He was still using donkeys that he plowed behind as he had done for his whole life. He was getting older and it was becoming impossible for him to continue to work.
I ask Shorty if his dad would be able to continue to farm if he had a tractor and implements. He told me had in fact driven a tractor on neighboring farms, so he should be able to.
I had just bought a new 1996 Chevrolet 1 ton Dual Wheel Truck with a 38′ long gooseneck trailer. I went to work finding the right tractor and as many implements as we could fit on the trailer.
I figured that was a good pay back for years of dedication and service I had received from that whole family.
I found a used Ford Tractor that was about 10 years old but appeared to be I great shape. I checked and there was a Ford Tractor Dealer in the town near them in Mexico, so when he needed parts he could get them.
Loaded down with everything we needed to make a trip deep into the interior of Mexico, Shorty and I hit the road south one morning on an 800 mile journey to Delorez Hidalgo, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. This is a couple of hours north of Mexico City.
I knew enough to know we couldn’t just drive to the border like tourists, pretending there wasn’t a huge trailer load of equipment behind us. So we allowed a day or so to get to Laredo and hire a broker to assist us in taking the stuff across. Shorty had made regular trips back to his birth place and knew a lot of the tricks. So we left with large sums of cash.
We found and met with a broker in Laredo that would help us with the needed paperwork. I bought insurance to protect my new truck and trailer while we were in Mexico. Our broker made a few calls and told us to go up river to the new Port of Entry at Columbia and make a night crossing. So that’s what we did. With papers in hand and a contact person to see upon entry into Mexico, we waited until dark and made way across the bridge. Our guy wasn’t there. No one knew anything about us coming. They wouldn’t allow us to cross. We didn’t have all the required paperwork. It seems like in Mexico, you never have all the required paperwork. We turned around to go back to Laredo to get additional paperwork.
The only problem, we were in Mexico coming back into Texas. The guards on the Texas side wanted to see our papers allowing us to transport this machinery out of Mexico. After spending quite a while jerking us around, they allowed us to travel back to Laredo. They had waved at us when we first crossed, so they knew what the deal was.
We spent the night in Laredo and then the whole next day going from one place to the other, getting more documents. By late that day we were heading across the bridge at Laredo, accompanied by a chaperone we had hired. Of course it was Friday and late in the afternoon and navigating the streets of Nuevo Laredo was as difficult as anything I had ever attempted. After one more stop for our Mexico travel papers we were on our way.
Being well into the night by the time we left out, there was a certain eeriness to traveling. Each time we arrived at a check point we would undergo another shakedown. The most common theme was “señor you do not have the correct papers, but for $100 I can let you pass”. Luckily most of the talking was through Shorty. I’m not sure I would have had the patience to continue on.
Throughout the night we drove. The roads were remarkably good. A couple of times we encountered a bunch of Federalis out in the middle of nowhere with an impromptu check point setup. Mostly this was a band of 16 – 18 year old Mexican Military types with automatic weapons strapped across their bodies, with a string of smudge pot flares stopping people to see why they were traveling. Each time Shorty would give them $20 or so to buy sodas with. We need to go buy sodas, that was the buzz words they use to get a few dollars for you.
Not long after daylight we arrived at our destination. I was proud to be there. The whole community was up and waiting for our arrival.
Coincidently, Madeline and our 3 youngest sons were down in the next town to the south. When I say coincidently, it was that. Neither of us had planned our trip so we could rendezvous there. It just happened. They had traveled there to attend a Spanish Language Institute in the town of San Miguel de Allende. They came up to meet us in Delorez Hidalgo.
After spending our time with some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met, it was time to say goodbye. We returned Madeline and the boys back to San Miguel so they could finish out their stay.
Number three son, Ron Jr. had encountered his own problems a day or so before, so he left prematurely with Shorty and me to return to Texas. I will leave it up to Ron or his Mother to fill in this blank in the story.
I can’t remember anything noteworthy happening on the return trip. I think we drove straight through only stopping for gas and eats.
I will always treasure that trip and the stories I was told of a man that was able to continue farming for another decade, before he passed away. He built a shed for his equipment and washed it off every day after a day of plowing and planting. He was even able to plow and plant for others in the community as well.
I’m not sure if I had known what was going to be involved in making that delivery, that I would have done it. I guess I like to think I would do it all over again.
This is the same type of tractor.