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Posts Tagged ‘automobiles’

Slowly the cars began to move.  Slowly they climbed the steep hill.  As they climbed, each little steam engine began to sing:  “I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I think I can – I think I can – I think I can I think I can–”  (The Little Engine That Could)

In this case, the little engines that could are Volkswagen Beetles, known in Mexico as vochos.  These indomitable VW Bugs are ubiquitous on the streets of Oaxaca — in a rainbow of colors and in every stage of repair and disrepair imaginable.

Fuschia vocho parked on street

They can even be spotted traveling along the walls…

“Vocho art” isn’t limited to murals on street corners.  Check out this Huichol beadwork “Vochol” I saw on exhibit at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City last October.  It is the work of Francisco Bautista, Kena Bautista, Roberto Bautista, Diego Díaz González, Emilio González Carrillo, Víctor González Carrillo, Alvaro Ortiz, and Herminio Ramírez.

And, that isn’t all…  Mexican artist, Héctor Garnelo Navarro has covered a 1994 VW Beetle  with “19,800 semi-precious stones (e.g., obsidian, jade) that form images of pyramids, animals, ancient deities (Quetzalcóatl [Feathered Serpent, Creator God] and the Mictlantecuhtli [God of the Underworld]).”  It is known as the Vocho Teotihuacano (Teotihuacán Beetle) and according to this article, he is finishing a Vocho Maya and is considering a Vocho Alebrije — the latter inspired by the wood carvers and painters of Oaxaca.  So, keep your eyes open!

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In a time long ago, in a land far away, my mother bought a 1955 red and white Ford Fairlane convertible with red and white leather upholstery and a V8 engine.  What a car!  With top down, several road trips from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles ensued.  And, “Betsy” even bumped along dirt roads and forded streams on camping trips up to Mount Lassen.  We had her for ten years before repeated repair trips had my mother saying, “Enough!!!” and trading her in.  It was a very sad day.  What almost 16-year old wants to learn to drive a big boring pale yellow 1965 Ford Fairlane station-wagon?!

However, Betsy lives on the streets of Cuba!!!  Last week’s Havana vacation had me seeing her and her older and younger Ford brothers and sisters everywhere — even Edsel!

Also there were her cousins.  Most of the vintage cars, known as almendrones in Cuba, are taxis and, once destination and price are agreed to, they ply the streets taking passengers from point A to point B.

Though often they just cruise up and down the Malecón seeing and being seen enjoying the sea breeze and spectacular setting.  It’s an especially popular pastime among tour groups and wedding parties.

The Stills and Young wistful elegy to Neil Young’s first car, Long May You Run, keeps playing in my mind.

Long May You Run

We’ve been through
some things together
With trunks of memories
still to come
We found things to do
in stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

Well, it was
back in Blind River in 1962
When I last saw you alive
But we missed that shift
on the long decline
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

Maybe The Beach Boys
have got you now
With those waves
singing “Caroline No”
Rollin’ down
that empty ocean road
Gettin’ to the surf on time.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

To the vintage cars of Cuba, long may you run!!!  And, for those concerned, as we were, about collectors coming in and sweeping up many of the 60,000 old American cars, according to a couple of articles I’ve read, that might not be the case.  Because of their age and the US embargo, “the cars have jerry-rigged modifications” that make them undesirable to collectors.  Then there is the pride owners have in their cars…

Cristian Paez, 40, said he has no intention of letting go of his 1956 purple and beige Bel Air convertible, purchased long ago by his grandfather. ‘Not possible,’ declares the burly 40-year-old, not for any price. ‘I love driving this car.'”

Stay tuned here and on Oaxaca-The Year After for more on the Havana adventure.

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And a slightly squashed Beetle, at that!

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Unfortunately, not Cuba.  (One of these days…)

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Saw it yesterday walking down Tinoco y Palacios, on my way home from Mercado Sanchez Pascuas.

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Leather upholstery, wood steering wheel, and paneled dashboard — it’s one very cool vocho.

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However, when it comes to telling a color story, wish it had been parked a couple of blocks down the hill, in front of this wall. 😉

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Pretty in pink on the streets of Oaxaca…P1140835

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And, this doesn’t even include the pink and lime green of Correos de México (Mexican post office).

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El auto del pueblo (the car of the people)…

P1130666The Volkswagen Beetle, known in Mexico as a Vocho, has been plying the highways and byways of Mexico since it made its debut in Mexico City at the “Alemania y su Industria” (Germany and its Industry) exhibition in 1954.

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As our journey on Sunday to Santa María Tlahuitoltepec had just gotten underway, Chris and I were engrossed in conversation when I had a whoa-grab-the-camera moment.  Across highway 190, just outside the city, a double row of VW Beetles appeared.

P1090900Perhaps, figuring it was safer to pull over rather than having me coming between him and the the steering in an attempt to take photos out the driver side window, Chris offered to pull over.

P1090897Some had been repainted and tricked out, but others had just been lovingly (no doubt) washed and detailed.

P1090899By the time we stopped, we had already passed at least fifty Bugs and the lines continued as we drove off.

P1090901A Classic Car Rally?  There was a scattering of other makes of cars, but the Beetles were the overwhelming majority and they ruled!

(Update: Blog reader, shewhodaresnothing, offered the answer.  June 22 was Worldwide VW Beetle Day!)

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Long ago, in a land far, far away, I once had a Volkswagen Beetle.   It was so old, it didn’t even have a gas gauge, only a reserve tank.  My little bug would inevitably begin running out of gas when I was putt-putting up a hill, requiring me to take my foot off the gas pedal to kick over the reserve tank.  Needless to say, I would hold my breath and offer up silent prayers that I wouldn’t get rear-ended and that there was, indeed, gas in the reserve tank!  But, I loved that car…

So, only a block from Casita Colibrí, how could I resist stopping to admire this beauty?

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Made in Oaxaca — or at least, tricked out in Oaxaca.

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Ready to rally again on the Pan American Highway?  It’s just up the road apiece.

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Stay calm… Doing it the old school Beetle way!

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Hmmm… last month’s Old VWs never die and now this post.  Bugs, of the VW variety, might just have to become a regular feature.

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Old Volkswagens never die.

P1090066They cruise on down to Oaxaca…

P1090067Put on some bling…

P1090068copyAnd, stop traffic!

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We used to ride, baby
Ride around in limousines  P1060799We looked so fine, baby
You in white and me in green

P1050480Drinking and dancing
All inside and crazy dream

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Well now look at your face now baby
Look at you and look at me

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We used to shine, shine, shine, shine
Say what a pair, say what a team

P1060804We used to ride, ride, ride, ride
In a long [white] limousine*

Saturday is wedding day in Oaxaca.

*Lyrics from Black Limousine by the Rolling Stones.

 

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Cars in Oaxaca?  They range from decrepit VW Beetles held together with duct tape to the latest shiny black tinted windowed SUVs.  Most lean toward the former — the cobblestones, potholes, and dirt roads can rapidly speed-up the aging process.

However, like young men worldwide are wont to do, no matter the make and model, Oaxaqueños love to customize their rides.  This one caught my eye in San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula:

Green Nissan with a Lambo door

The doors are known as Lambo (after Lamborghini), scissor, butterfly, switchblade, jack-knife and beetle-wing doors.  Take your pick!  R Kelly song lyrics came to mind:

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly

By the way, should you too want to install Lambo doors on your car, you can find instructions here.  Who knew???

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