How hard can it be to fix a door?

Parked tucked away behind great sand dunes, we were sheltered adequately enough from the wailing winds, blowing in from the coast. Sleep was hard to come by. I just couldn’t stop thinking about our problematic sliding door. If all things went to plan, the garage would be able to find a replacement door, and then after a quick paint job, we would be experiencing the same joy that every other kombi owner experiences. However, there was a nagging doubt in my mind that the garage was going to be a disappointment.

Enjoying our temporary surroundings
Aimee learnt how to climb on the roof

There was not much we could do about it until Monday, so I tried to put the thoughts out of my mind, determined to make the most of being back on the beach. So after a fancy breakfast and a pot of tea, we thought about moving Ruby around the to an isolated parking spot named Playa Pilitas, which was marked on iOverlander. Hopefully, there wouldn’t be as many campers that far round, and we would be close enough to the water to try our new kayak out if the wind remained calm. As luck would have it, we were the only ones there, and managed to snag a nice place to park which overlooked the beach.

It’s not all bad
Beach view

From our spot, we could see the now deserted Tecolote in the distance. With the American border now closed, the spot was now desolate, so presumably the bars would no longer be open. Covid19 was going to start causing a major strain on the economy here in Baja, and potentially start hurting our drinking habits in the process!

Tecolote in the distance

We spent the majority of the day trying to take our mind off the sliding door by enjoying the warm sun. I scrambled up a nearby hill to see if I could find some much needed signal to upload my recently completed post, but after spending half an hour waving my phone in the air like a moron, I gave up and headed back to the van in defeat.

As the day slipped away, we decided to stroll down to the bars to find out whether they were indeed open or not, also hoping to find a spot of data along the way. As we walked around the corner of the hill, we met a Canadian couple parked up on the side of the road. Apparently, this was the best spot in the area for signal, and they needed to make a call home.

“Are the couple in the old VW.” They asked us inquisitively.

They recognised us from our previous visit as we had parked fairly close to them. After chatting to them, we learned that the road blockade started the day before to stop anyone else entering the beach. Clearly, they weren’t quite aware of the access road we used to get down the afternoon before. The campers had been informed that the beaches were closing down, as Easter was fast approaching and apparently it was the busiest weekend of the year in Mexico and the Mexican government was now starting to take preventative measures very seriously.

Like us, the remaining RVs were mainly snowbirds from Canada and Northern America who had made the decision to see out the pandemic in Baja. Hearing the news about the impending beach closure had me worried for the first time since our group headed back up to the States. Had we made the right decision to stay and wait it out here? Only time will tell I suppose.

The Canadians informed us that the bars had recently shut, but we decided to walk down the beach a little bit further anyway to enjoy the sunset, which had always been fairly impressive during our time here. Wishing each other luck, we said goodbye and continued to make our way down the beach.

Once again we were treated to a fine Baja sunset. At least Covid19 couldn’t take these away from us!

We made our way back to Ruby and settled down for the night. We had to be back at the garage at 10am, to find out if they had been successful securing a replacement door. Both of us were pessimistic about the chances of them finding a cheap replacement door, and we were both expecting another day of disappointment. Instead of making our way to the hot springs of Santiago tomorrow, we would most likely be wasting more time, hanging around trying to find a solution to our door problem.

As we had packed most of our stuff away the night before, we filled our travel mugs with a hot brew and hit the road, taking the back road once again, not fancying explaining our sudden appearance on the beach and subsequently giving away the other entrance.

As we drove the now familiar route into La Paz once again, the sign of the current times was apparent, the main strip was blocked off and we had to divert around to get to the garage. I mentioned earlier that neither of us were really confident of them securing a door at a ‘reasonable price’, so we weren’t too surprised or disappointed when we were informed that they had been unable to find a replacement door. Even though they were a specialist VW garage, they clearly had no interest in having another go at our door, and so recommended the body repair shop which they had suggested when we first sought them out for help last Friday.

We followed the hand drawn instructions a couple of blocks down and pulled up outside the body repair shop, pulling up wondering if we were wasting our time. We went in and tried to explain what was wrong with the door and what we needed doing. The guy clearly had no idea what we were talking about, but that did not him enthusiastically agreeing to fix it, for the price of $2000mxp. They must have thought their luck was in when two Gringos walked in, thinking it would be a quick fix and they could make a fast buck. We obviously knew differently.

But that’s about £70. Now if they could fix the door for that price, it would be prove to be a bargain. And it’s not like they could make it any worse!

Not hopeful about this

So we took our bikes and cycled into town, with Aimee once again in her ruck sake, letting us know that she was not amused. After dropping our laundry off at the marina laundrette, we decided to head back to the same bar/restaurant what we went to last time, but were surprised to find that they were no longer accepting customers due to new restrictions imposed by the government.

With a nice cup of coffee out of the question, we decided to cycle down to Walmart to pick up a few hard to find ingredients, as we would hopefully soon be hiding away in the Baja mountains.

Preventative measures were in place at Walmart as well, meaning only one of us could venture into the abyss, putting our lives at risk in the search of some hard to find spices. Fortunately, you get a little spray of hand sanitiser which kills bacteria. So probably not doing much to kill a virus, but it makes people feel better when they cough and wheeze in people’s faces.

“Don’t worry… I’ve cleaned my hands!” I know people are only trying to prevent the spread of one of the worst viruses to since the Spanish influenza, but it feels like all it is doing is promoting hysteria and panic, something I would rather avoid being a foreigner in a place which could easily turn violent towards us due to fear.

I manage to find some of the items we desperately needed, but compared to the Walmart in The States, the Mexican ones were really lacking, and that is saying something, as the Walmarts in America aren’t great themselves. I re-joined Willow outside, who was busy trying to keep Aimee occupied in the car park. Aimee really wasn’t happy about our current predicament.

We left Walmart and went in search of a pet store, to try and buy some saw dust for our composting toilet. With no coconut husk available to us, we were desperate to find a temporary alternative until we made it back across the border. Sadly, none of the shops we visited had any form of pet bedding and so defeated, we headed back to the body shop to see how they were getting on.

It was no real surprise to turn up to find them struggling over the sliding door, as they had no idea what they were trying to achieve. It seems they decided that the door was positioned too low, which was partly correct, so they were attempting to jack it up and just tighten the retaining bolt. This was not the cause of the problem, so neither us were surprised to find that they hadn’t been able to make any progress, especially if they have just been trying this tactical for the last couple of hours. A guy named Ricardo, who does welding for the shop arrived and he spoke fairly decent English. So using him as a translator, we had them take the door off and we once again explained the problem. He seemed to understand the issue. The new section that the other garage had welded hadn’t been welded in the correct position, meaning that when the door was attached, it was pulling the door at the wrong angle. The door is meant to have multiple adjustments, each of them needing to be precise in order for the door to function. Ricardo decided that he needed to cut the section out and redo it again, which was fine with us, as we agreed that it wasn’t a great job done by the supposed VW specialists. We decided to hang around in case they needed any other help getting the door back and adjusted properly.

At least Ricardo seemed to know what he was doing

During the next couple of hours, they worked tirelessly to get our door properly repaired, and I popped out a couple of times to collect our washing, grab us some snacks and some money from a cash point. Which was actually harder than it should have been, as most of the ATMs where inside banks. Banks which were shut! I did eventually track down one which was open, and by the time I returned, they were putting the finishing touches into finishing the door.

One of the rollers was missing from the new bracket that we bought, the guys that we originally left the van with claimed that it was missing when we left it with them, but I suspected that they had lost it without realising. That said, the door did at least close. Not very well, due to the missing roller, but by this point we were just desperate to get away. We could find a replacement roller at a later date.

After asking us for the originally agreed fee of $2000mxp, Willow quick argued that we’d had to help quite a lot to help get the door repaired and so it was unreasonable to ask for the full amount. You could see that they were not happy about that, but after some persuasion from Ricardo, we negotiated a new, cheaper price. After grabbing a quick picture, we thanked them and hit the road, desperate to get as far away from La Paz as possible.

The Mexican dream team

We originally planned to head back to Los Barriles, but as it was now getting later, we decided to keep an eye out for somewhere else on the way. But with not many places on iOverlander, except the occasional RV park, we weren’t overly optimistic about our chances.

We followed the main road out of La Paz, but instead of following it back to Todos Santos, we turned off and headed into the mountains. As the road started to climb and wind around the foot of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, we started to lose the light. At least now we had Willow’s killer LED lights on the roof rack, so we would be able to see any cows that had wandered onto the road. Driving at night is not recommended in Baja, as the cattle are free to wander, and they often choose the warm tarmac as their spot to lay during the night. So if you don’t pay attention, it would be easy to become one of the many crosses on the side of the road that we drive past.

We didn’t pass any spots and so continued on all the way until we arrived at the same beach we had parked at previous in our old travel convoy. The beach was empty, bar one incredibly big truck, which was more tank than camper. Parking up, we threw some food together and tried to put the events of the last couple of days behind us. Sadly, our sliding door still wasn’t functioning as it should, but at least it was working enough to open and close now.

So to answer the initial question… Apparently it is incredibly hard to fix a door! And I have an ominous feeling that this will not be the last you hear about this door during this adventure. For the time being though, I look forward to heading up into the mountains to enjoy the hot springs and to hopefully find somewhere tranquil where we can continue to wait out this pandemic. Surely things should start getting better from now?

2 thoughts on “How hard can it be to fix a door?

  1. Hi sir I’ve been reading tour blog and watching ur clogs to hope u and willow are keeping safe during these hard times. Um zubaida told me to tell u tht she is deputy head girl and tht I’m head girl Stu safe x


    1. Hi Bisma, thanks for the message.Willow, Aimee and I are doing fine. I am glad you are all doing well. Very proud of you all. Sat hi to everyone for me when you next see them.


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