Sierra Auto Service

I bought a used near mint condition Nissan Pathfinder about three years ago for a great price. Never gave me any trouble except for three weeks ago when it just refused to start. As the saying goes, when it rains it pours.

And believe me, it’s been monsooning lately at the Prieto household. Not only have I had to take a pay cut at work since we basically have no new projects, but the Mrs is a Real Estate agent and, if you follow the market, you know how bad the real estate business is. So we’ve had to cut some major corners at home and even had to resort to borrowing a few bucks here and there to make ends meet.

Thus when the Pathfinder broke down last month, since I still have my beat-up 1992 Isuzu pick-up, I chose to drive my trusty truck and leave the Pathfinder parked at the house and not worry about coming up with the money at the time to fix the car.

Unfortunately, the Isuzu, having seen much better days, started acting up this week. I was taking a load of tree and shrub cuttings to the city dump on Monday – my forced day off – when I pressed down on the brake and the Isuzu wouldn’t stop. The brake pedal went down to the floor board. I almost ate the car in front of me, saved only by a quick pull on the emergency brake.

Usually, when you press on your brake pedal and it quietly goes all the way down it can mean a couple of things, mainly: air in the brake lines; a brake fluid leak or an issue with the master cylinder.

I checked the brake fluid at the dump and found the well full, which meant that most likely the master cylinder – the more expensive option of the above – is shot on the old Isuzu. I could keep driving the truck being very careful, pumping on the brakes every time I need to stop, but, driving in Miami is dangerous enough. It’s downright suicidal to drive in Miami with brake problems.

Thus, my quandary on Monday: do I fix the Isuzu or do I fix the Pathfinder? Either way, I had no money for either.

So I called Roger.

Roger, “my mechanic”, is more than just my mechanic, he’s a pretty darned good friend. He’s been keeping all the cars and trucks in my family in shape and tune for years and he’s always – always – there when I need him. When my wife had her last car accident – yes, her “last” as there have been a few – Roger got to the scene before I did. When the Pathfinder gave out and I called, he walked me through a bunch of things to check on the car – spending over an hour on the phone with me – and when none of them seemed to be the problem, he just said “tow truck will be on its way.” Of course, I told him to hold off – without telling him that I couldn’t afford to get it fixed. Roger will have twenty cars in his shop and he’ll take care of me or my wife or my parents or anyone I send him ahead of all of them.

When I call Roger, he always refers to me as “el peor enemigo de fidel castro en el internet.” “fidel castro’s arch internet nemesis.” And Roger has an incredible Cuban life story that he shared with me and which I have his handwritten account of here in my office. I am working on translating and transcribing it and will have it published one of these days.

I called him on Monday.


“El que habla.”

“Es el peor enemigo de fidel castro…”

“Dimelo muchacho. How are you? How’s the family?”

“Todo el mundo bien, Roger. I got a problem.”

And before I could say anything else he asked “Where are you?”

“At home, it’s the Path…”

“The tow truck is on the way.”

Half hour later the tow truck was at my house and the Pathfinder was loaded up and taken to Roger’s shop.

The next morning he calls and tells me the truck is fixed. The ignition relay on the Pathfinder was shot. I asked him how much it was and was about to tell him that I am basically broke when he interrupted:

“Have I asked you for any money?”

Roger knows the dire economic situation we have and wouldn’t hear of any talk about me paying him right now.

I’m now driving the Pathfinder, which is purring like a kitten, thanks to Roger.

I’ve said this a million times before but it bears repeating, once again: I don’t have millions in the bank and am not rich. But what I do have are the best, most incredible friends and loved ones that anyone could ever even imagine and who are always there for me, no questions asked.

You’ll notice another ad on the Pinar del Rio sidebar now. It’s for Sierra Auto Service, Roger’s shop. Trust me folks, I cant recommend him highly enough. Roger is to auto mechanics what Shakespeare is to English literature, only friendlier and with a Cuban accent and grease laden hands. Make sure to tell Roger that I sent you, so you can have a couple laughs at my expense.

Oh, and just above that new ad is the donation button, please consider dropping a few bucks in the old till. It would sure help me out right now to be able to afford stuff like, say, a haircut. I haven’t had one since December and I’m looking a lot like Link from the Mod Squad.

3 thoughts on “Sierra Auto Service”

  1. Val,

    You know what you have people that help you?

    Because of your undying dedication to the cause of a free Cuba with no strings attached.

    There are many Cuban-Americans living in Miami with way more financial means that you and the ones who contribute to Babalu, and yet they do very little for the cause.

    If these individuals would put a small tiny fraction of their wealth into promoting freedom and democracy in Cuba and to influence American public opinion in our favor, we would not be in the uphill battle that we’re today.

  2. Don’t worry, I look like the Jehova’s Witness distributing Atalaya since I too have not had a haircut since, August!

    I’m glad you were able to solve your problem.


    Regarding your hair, howze about Billy Preston or Sly Stone?

    A perfect example of that Cuban propensity para resolver. Val opens up with a tale of unremitting woe–and leaves us all GUFFAWING!

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