Oy vey, what an ordeal!!!! It was so bad this morning, I think I lost my mind for a moment when a ribbon of words dashed thru my consciousness splashing around something like how much does fuckin walmart (of which there are TWO here) sell veggie oil for?
Blame the heat, the dust, the oil – the oil – the oil!
Okay so, I really shouldn’t complain. I have probably almost 10 gallons of oil in my tank now that I didn’t have yesterday BUT it was an ordeal. So much of an ordeal, I hallucinated momentarily.
From the beginning. I greet the sun this morning, like almost every other morning. The sky is the most beautiful deep, soft blue and now I know why people here call it ‘azul’ – like ‘a jewel’, but better.
My morning ritual complete – teeth, coffee, watering the trees – I head out to find a spot where I can comfortably filter the oil, somewhere where it won’t matter too much if I make a little mess, somewhere a little private and out of the way.
I find a kind of dirt road between a couple of huge buildings that are definitely industrial – they appear equally in use as not, so I take a chance and park there.
I put down a blanket, liberate the hoses, filter, and pump from their cage with the propane tanks beneath the truck. Then I get the oil filter wrench, jeans fabric, funnel, pans, plastic bag out the container and I’m ready to salsa!
By this time, I’ve spoken my broken Spanish with several workers (the buildings are occupied) the truck driver who pulled in to deliver to one of the huge buildings.
They are all amazed that I am traveling without an amigo – I correct them of course and say amiga – and they stare harder when they realize I think I’ll run my truck on veggie oil.
I bring down the two containers of used veggie oil and two ‘clean’ containers. Oren has said filtering thru the water filter is enough but after my trouble in Phoenix, and my swiftly dwindling filter supply, (ah, but there is an Ace here, as well as Home De Pot), I decide to filter through cloth first and then use the filter.
Have you ever tried to filter oil thru cloth? For some reasons, in Berkeley it seems to flow right thru. Today, it was so pathetic, I think it will take me the whole day to filter just the one container.
One of the workers comes back and helps me. He plugs the pump in as I hold the hose over the filter and funnel. He unplugs it swiftly before the funnel overflows.
He tells me he spent 6 years in Phoenix and loved it because there were lots of Mexicans. I ask him if he was deported too (at least I think that is what I asked him) but he said he came back here to work, and points to one the big gray buildings.
He then pulls out a very high gloss photo pamphlet with about 10 pages of all sizes of polyester ropes, pointing out for me the pages that are for gardens as he skips over the heavier duty ropes - for the boys?
Except he knows I’m a gardener from the mural on my truck.
The oil is dripping thru at about one drip per hour. I look at Alan (I least that’s what I think he said) when he says such a small amount, and tell him I think it must be the material – tela.
I hope it’s not because the oil is hydrogenated grrrrr. Suddenly Alan has left me, behind the truck with the filtration system and just as suddenly he returns, to my surprise, holding a dusty black stocking out to me. He shakes it vigorously, and stretches it out to see if it will fit over the filter.
Suddenly another man appears from the other building that sits several feet above the ground where we're at, calling to us. Alan goes over to the tall fence and catches what looks like paper, that the other man has tossed over the fence.
He gives me the cone-shaped filters that are paper with small mesh cloth over the bottom and sides. These work perfectly – and I feel I really AM in Mexico where everyone knows what you want, sometimes even before you do.
And where everyone steps up to help! Alan is called back to work and I continue to first pump the oil from one container, thru the paper filters (which work fabulously) and into another container; and then pump the oil filtered once, again thru the water filter this time and into the tank.
The oil from Sushi To Go is very thick and I’m worried about it. The oil from the 2nd container from Jung is almost so clean I wonder if it’s been used. But on the first filter and near the bottom, there are burnt black flecks, indicating it is used oil.
The whole process takes over two hours and I only have ¼ tank of fuel to show - and that's combined with what was already in my tank. GRRRR.
So I decide I better get in gear and go hit up a few restaurants on the strip close by where I’m staying. It is almost noon and I’m careful not to go to those that are crowded with customers, but I take note of those, just in case I’ll need to return.
I am unsuccessful finding oil. One place, the young woman Diana, wants to speak English with me. She tells me she lived in Sacramento once to go to school, English school!
It is funny, people here can tell the minute I say ‘buenas dias’ that I’m not a Spanish speaker. The only word Diana said to me was ‘ok’ and I new she spoke English. Her eyes widened incredibly when I told her I run my truck on veggie oil.
We spoke briefly about my joiyssey – and I was reminded I want to make cards to hand out to people – and then she found out her restaurant workers had just tossed their 20 liters of oil in the garbage that morning - a huge dumpster full of rotting food.... If only I hadn’t been so lazy yesterday! Grrrrr
Another place I went to – and spoke only Spanish with – seemed to be expecting me. I think they were asking about my truck. One of the men took me out back around to the garbage and showed me a container full of oil! I was SOOOOOO pleased until he told me it would cost 3 pesos a liter – ochenta pesos.
He must have thought my math was a bad as my Spanish. In case yours is, 3 times 20 is 60, not 80! Anyway, 60 pesos is about $5, mas o menos, for about 4 gallons – of unfiltered, oil, raunchy, most likely hydrogenated oil that I shouldn’t use anyway.
Which is when those visions of walmart scooted thru my head…. oy the sun, high noon, almost a full moon!And not enough veggie oil to get over 100 miles.
I also had a vision of yesterday’s visit to a restaurant when the young womon told me they sell their used oil to a farmer to mix with feed for his cows and pigs. And guess how much? 3 pesos per liter!
I wonder if I’m the farmer or the pig at this point.
I was going to wait until I find enough oil to fill my tank but now I’m thinking it might be better to get to the ocean, find a place to stay for awhile, and then collect oil so I can let it sit before using it.
Whoever thought this veggie oil shit will work in Mexico???? hmmmm