After I cleaned up after breakfast, I loaded up the transmission and the laundry and headed ashore. I dropped the laundry off and, although she said it’d be done by 4:00 I told her to hold it until tomorrow as I don’t really want to go back over today. Then I schlepped my backpack full of transmission (about a 40 lb. load) up to Revolución entre Rosales y Allende* to look for Universal Diesel. I found it, but it looks like someone’s house. And there was a locked gate across the front. And there was a large barking dog inside the gate. What was I thinking? This isn’t Estados Unidoa. This is Mexico. Things are done differently here. How long will it take me to get that? And why, you may ask, didn’t I call first? It’s not like I didn’t have a phone number. Well, think about it, I call up a shop where the person who answers very likely will speak no English. Then I try to convey to him, in my piss-poor Spanish, what it is I need. He asks me a bunch of questions that I can’t understand and ultimately we’re at an impasse. So, I just went to the shop instead and figured we’d be able to reach some happy middle ground better in person. But, as I said, the shop was closed, at least to me. So what do I do? I called them. As expected, Josue didn’t speak any English. And even though I know that pretty much any diesel mechanic could change an oil seal on pretty much anything, as soon as I said “transmisión” he balked. Basically I think he said that he doesn’t work on transmissions but he knows someone who does and he gave me the number. I called the number and it was disconnected or not working for some other reason. Now what?
Having no idea what to do I started towards Lopez Marine. This is the marine supply store that most of the cruisers swear by. It helps that the proprietor, Hamish, is completely fluent in English. I fegured he should be able to at least steer me in the right direction. I hadn’t gone more than 1/2 block when my phone started ringing. I answered it and the guy on the other end spoke a little English. He’s a Mexican guy named Kenny (huh?) and is apparently a friend of Josue from Universal Diesel. Josue called Kenny and gave him my number. The upshot was that Kenny could do the work. Great, where are you? Well, he was at the Abaroa boatyard down near Marina de La Paz so I said I’d see him in about 10 minutes. When I got there I asked one guy if he knew Kenny. Nope. So I called him again and he said he’d meet me at the front gate. In just a couple minutes this friendly looking middle aged Mexican guy comes out and greets me. It was Kenny. He then introduced me to his friend, Alejandro (I think). They asked about the transmission and where my boat was. I explained that it was anchored out. Kenny translated for Alejandro saying that the boat was “en la agua”. Alejandro looked a little downhearted until I said, “Pero, el transmisión esta aquí.” and I fished it out of my pack.
They looked it over, asked a few questions (like “what’s wrong with it?”) and then Kenny said he could fix it. He’s working on a boat in the yard right now (cute little full-keel double-ender owned by a guy named Sven). He goes home for lunch at 3:00 and would get a new seal then. He’d have the transmission ready for me tomorrow at Abaroa after 3:00. I’m to find him at Sven’s boat. On the way out I stopped and talked to the Texans from s/v Pandora (they were behind us at Costa Baja for a little while) who are there working on their blistered bottom. When Harley heard we had Kenny on the job he said that he had wanted Kenny to work on his boat because he has a good reputation but the management at Abaroa nixed it. They apparently have pretty arbitrary reasons for what they will and won’t allow. So, I felt pretty good after that endorsement. Hopefully I’ll get my tranny back tomorrow all fixed, for not too many pesos and everything will be jake.
Then I went to Ahumburro to get cilantro and meat to make Caldo de Res (beef soup). I didn’t find any pre-packaged meat that I particularly wanted so I asked for “un kilo, mas o menos, de esto” and pointed to a pile of meat. What the meat is is anybody’s guess. It was obviously beef but beyond that, who knows? It looks like they just cut meat away from the femur for instance and piled it up. No bones. Well, I figure that when I got the sales slip it would tell. It does, sort of. It says “carne para cocer” Cooking meat. Well, that narrows it down. Oh well, cut up and cooked in caldo de res it won’t much matter what it is.
Now, about Caldo de Res. “Beef soup” just doesn’t tell the story. This is the richest beef stew you ever had a spoonful of. I got the recipe originally from an article on pressure cooking in Passagemaker magazine. The guy who wrote the article had a couple of unbelievably good recipes but the caldo de res and the pressure cooker pot roast were my two favorites. I wish I knew his name so I could give credit where credit is due but I’ve long since lost the original article. Anyway, this being your lucky day, I’m going to share the Caldo recipe with you. Ready?
Caldo de Res
3 lbs beef (mas o menos) cut into 1″ squares. You can use boneless chuck roast, top round, cross rib, carne para cocer, or any other cheap cut of beef you happen to find. Pressure cooking will tenderize it so no worries there.
3 cans beef broth or enough bouillon to make 4 cups
1 can peeled diced tomatoes
1 can pinto or black beans
1/3 C worcestershire sauce
1 pkg taco seasoning
1/2 onion, medium, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 or 3 carrots, sliced
1 t cayenne or red pepper flakes
1/4 C chopped cilantro
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 C red wine
salt and pepper
garnishes: sour cream, salsa or hot sauce, avocado
–Add 1/3 of the beef broth to the pressure cooker (use meat rack). Add the meat cubes, 1/3 of the taco seasoning, 2T of the worcestershire sauce, and salt & pepper to taste
–Bring cooker to operating pressure and then cook at pressure for 30 minutes. Depressurize and remove the meat rack.
–Add remaining beef broth, tomatoes, remaining worcestershire sauce, wine, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, cayenne or red pepper flakes, and cilantro
–Bring back up to pressure and cook 2-3 minutes.
–Depressurize. Return to stove with lid on but w/o the weight. Simmer on low heat. If a steady stream of steam begin to escape, remove lid, stir and lower heat. Replace lid and continue to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
–Add beans and simmer an additional 20 minutes.
–Served topped with your choice of the garnishes mentioned above. Accompany with warm tortillas for dipping.
Obviously you can play with the recipe. I used dried beans instead of canned. Soaked them overnight and then put them in to cook with the meat on the first run and then omitted the last 10 minute simmer. But don’t screw around with the wine or worcestershire sauce, they’re key.
This stuff is so good and so rich. I had it for dinner tonight and there’s enough left over for several more dinners. Accompanied mine with a couple slabs of Lee’s homemade bread. I bet it tasted good.
Yeah, that’s right. I couldn’t taste it!!! You see, I had a cold coming on and Monday night it decided to go Nuke-Yoo-Ler, like W used to say. By this morning, I had lost my sense of smell and my sense of taste. Happens every time I have a cold. But I make food anyway hoping that something will sneak past my cold-induced sense censors, But NOOOOOOOOOO. I suspect I got this cold from Omero, our shuttle driver from Costa Baja. I also suspect this will be far from the last one I get as long as we’re around large population centers. The habit of coughing or sneezing into the crook of ones elbow doesn’t seem to have caught on here yet. So, when the mouth does get covered, it gets covered with a hand. And these nice folks do love to shake hands. Waddyagonnado? I doubt that I’ll carry around my little personal bottle of hand sanitizer. That just seems so, I don’t know, so gringo I guess. No, I’ll just weather the storm knowing that I’ll always have you to whine at and complain to. Thanks for being there for me.
*This is often what passes for an address here. They tell you what street it’s on (Revolución) and then what cross streets it’s in between (Rosales and Allende). There are house numbers but they don’t seem to be used much and I have yet to see one on a house.