Imagine you are driving happily along in Mexico, taking in the view, bopping along to some tunes, and smiling at how perfect your road trip is going. Then you notice a small noise: it gets louder and, with panic setting in, you pull over, let the car cool down and then try to start it up again to no avail. One look around confirms that you are broken down in the middle of nowhere on a desolate Mexican highway. Now what?
This situation has played over in my head since we arrived with our own car in Mexico. Breaking down in a city or town is one thing, breaking down in the middle of a deserted Mexican highway is a completely different story. We had one close call a few weeks ago when we sputtered into town after spending a couple hours surfing. We pulled into the local supermarket, got out of the car and watched as the car’s fan belt promptly fell off. We were lucky that it happened in town and that a mechanic was located only three minutes away. What if it had happened on the highway hours from town? Fortunately the Mexican government provides a “heavenly” service for motorists in distress.
The “Los Angeles Verdes” (Green Angels) are a federally funded service that provides mobile mechanics on federal and toll roads.They are available to assist with car breakdowns and accidents . Back in the pre-cellphone period, you had to wait around in hopes of catching a glimpse of one of the easily recognizable green and white trucks that patrol the highways looking to lend a hand. Now you can call the dispatch center from your cellphone to alert an “angel” of your whereabouts.
The Green Angels are equipped with gasoline, motor oil and spare parts for basic repairs. If you end up requiring more than minor adjustments they can assist with towing your vehicle to a mechanic. The towing and labor are free but you will be expected to pay for any parts you need. The Green Angels patrol highways from 8am to 6pm daily (though this information varies depending on who you ask).
Not only are these guys on-the-spot mechanics but they are trained in CPR and first aid in case of emergencies or accidents. And probably the best part of all, especially if your Spanish is still very basic, they often have a good grasp of English, making it much easier to communicate exactly what happened to your car. They can also provide information on the roads you will be taking as well as tourist information.
To contact the Green Angles dial 087 or 060 (the nationwide emergency phone number) from any TELMEX booth or a cellphone. This will connect you to the main dispatch line in Mexico City who will then radio the agent in your area. Keep in mind that they do not patrol the small roads so you should plan to stay on the main roads on your trip through Mexico. Here is a map of the routes that the Green Angels patrol.
The service is free, but it is perfectly acceptable — and greatly appreciated — to tip the agent who helps you.
“No Wrong Turns” chronicles Kelsey and her husband’s road trip — in real time — from Canada to the southern tip of South America in their trusty red VW Golf named Marlin.