|Delivering vegetables to Hidalgo Avenue|
“Bicycle?” he asks with a smile, pointing at his specialized vehicle a diablito (little devil). It’s a combination of a cart and a bicycle welded together in an ingenious fashion.
On this particular day two of the maleteros have been hired by a local restaurant owner to cart his heavy purchases from the passenger boat a few blocks to his restaurant on Hidalgo Avenue. Boxes of ripe tomatoes and aromatic peppers are stacked on top of sturdy cartons of supplies. Sacks of green cabbage heads and crisp white onions are balanced to one side – the bright red diablitos are loaded and ready to go. Both maleteros are wearing the sponsored t-shirt of the day, this one from Casa España. It’s a clever way to identify the legitimate porters.
|Puerto Juarez – hotel-style uniforms for porters|
To complete the resort illusion the porters use a traditional hotel cart to move packages, not the bicycle-cart diablito. They will offer to transport heavy bags and purchases down to the docks, stacking luggage in piles for easy loading onto the boats.
Now, we are so accustomed to the service, we gladly let someone else cart our heavy items. Disembarking on Isla, we hand over our goods, describe in Spanglishwhere our vehicle is parked and part company. We walk out the passenger exit, while the maletero must go around to an exit for the diablito. We meet up again a few blocks down the street where we indicated the golf cart was parked. For just a few dollars it’s a nice treat, especially for my shoulder and knee joints!
|Diablitos – bicycle/cart combination|
On Isla there is the added service of the bicycle-couriers transporting heavy items directly to hotels in centro, or the customers’ place of business, or to a near-by vehicle.
And as with every form of transportation on Isla, people become very inventive on what will fit on a diablito: 50-inch TV, propane tanks, groceries, large pails of paint, pet carriers, lumber, mattresses, and of course suitcases. Some enterprising operators also use their diablito to transport family members when it is not being used to earn a living. Mom and the kids pile in the cart portion and papa provides the pedal power on the bicycle.
Lynda and Lawrie