Journeys to other countries are great ways to dip into another language directly. But some words you might prefer not to learn. Such is the case with ‘llantero.’
It was a sunny day in Yucatán driving a rental car on a back road, headed to an anniversary celebration for friends of a friend. The road was being repaired, and a rock rolled out from where they were working. When the back right tire went flat a bit further down the road, it was not a surprise. But it was the first time I became aware of the word ‘llantero,’ which is someone who fixes flats.
Fortunately there was a spare, which helped us make it to the first llantero, whose business was just a shed beside the road in a little village. The tire he put on was worn out but it appeared to hold pressure. The bad news, though, was that the rock also had damaged the front tire, leaving a big bubble bulging out the sidewall. A blowout wating to happen. So that became the spare and
The friend’s friends had forgotten that they had invited people to a party, but that didn’t stop them from putting on a great one. It was late in the evening when the car was overloaded with people returning from the celebration, some of whom had arrived by bus. It was in a remote location on a narrow road on the darkest imaginable night when I felt the llantero’s tire go flat. So we pulled off, and in the darkness, managed to put the bubble tire back on and limp back to the town where our friend and the other passengers lived.
The next day we visited the llantero in town recommended by our friend, who found us a used tire in good condition. The bubble tire could go back in the trunk, which now was filling up with destroyed tires to show the rental car company. And this tire served us well on the long drive back to the city.
This experience indelibly added to my limited Spanish vocabulary the word ‘llantero.’
Steve Wing with photos by Susan Schott-Wing, Florida, USA, .