El Duque


December 1, 2009

The Salazar-Che family (my family) has a Toyota truck. I couldn’t tell you what year or model, but I think its unique enough that none of these labels matter anyway. It’s comparatively small in size from what most would today consider a “truck”, what with all the insinuations that if it doesn’t have a trillion horsepower or a hefty combination of letters and numbers in its name then its not manly enough to haul your junk.

IMG_4145Anyway… this little truck is red(ish) and the windshield is cracked in a few places. The top of the windshield has a sticker that tints the light purple and says “Guiame Senor” (Guide me, God). There are rosary beads wrapped around the rearview mirror, and a small dalmation beanie baby sits on the dashboard (Fina uses it to defrost the windows when its rainy out). The dash has a little, I guess you would call it a table cloth, of fabric that I think matches well with the outer décor. The steering wheel is wrapped in blue, green, red, and white plastic, braided in a neat sort of way. The driver’s side window is either down or (mostly) up, but whichever way you choose to have it you have to grasp the glass and pull it, then use the window crank to lock it in place. The passenger side door often takes 8 slams before it will shut, but I have become the master, and it usually only takes me one try. (However, on the rare occasions in which it takes me more than one try, it invariably takes more than 5, because this truck wants to keep my ego in check.) The speedometer, engine gauge, and fuel gauge do not work. It is manual, and it makes a symphonic range of noises while in any stage of motion. Sometimes the engine just cuts off, and occasionally the dash board randomly dumps water on your feet when you sit in the passenger side. I don’t know why. The radio, surprisingly, functions well.

This truck has so much flavor, so much flair, that I fell in love with it immediately, and felt that it needed to be christened with a name of its own. About a month ago the Dukes of Hazzard was the movie of the month on TNT here, only it was “Los Duques de Hazzard” and it suddenly occurred to me that that was the perfect name for our little truck “El Duque”…because it’s a hazard. GET IT?!!? I held this private joke in my mind for weeks, and it wasn’t until Saturday that I finally had a good opportunity to reveal his name to my family.

We went to go buy new tires for El Duque in Antigua (trust me they were BADLY needed) and as I sat in the car with Fina, she commented on how ugly the car was and how she didn’t like it. I told her I loved it, and had given it a name… then I explained the joke, what a hazard was, and she cracked up. She loved it, and made me tell it all over again to Omar when he got back to the car. He also loved it, and now hardly a day goes by where El Duque isn’t referenced by name. When we’re especially proud that the truck made it up a hill, we call him “El Gran Duque” just to show our appreciation. Omar even says we’re going to get stickers to put the name on the car…but I’ll let you know if that happens. I must say I feel as though I have made a significant contribution to the family now. Ha.