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Casa de Tornillo
House of Screws

GPS: 15°51.903'N 97°4.251'W

by Puerto Bill

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This article discusses the non-touristy shops in Puerto Escondido's business center and was taken from the Puerto Escondido Visitors' Comments

I always wonder how many people who go to Puerto go to El Centro. You know the part of town that is on the other side of the hwy. I guess a lot of people go the Mercado and Ahorrara (the local Safeway) and maybe the internet cafés and maybe even the bank but miss other places that gringos that stay for extended periods have to go to. I am talking about the paint store or one of the plastic stores or one of the bike shops or maybe the video store or a ferretería (hardware store).

Casa de Tornillo in El Centro, Puerto Escondido
Ferretería actually means iron works or a place where they do iron work. I guess the old iron works evolved into the modern day hardware stores. I seem to spend a lot of time in the ferreterías for some reason. There are many of them in Puerto and I always seem to have to go to 2-3 to get what I want. The Home Depot of Puerto is Zimat and I go there often but even though they have what seems like everything there are some things that they don't have or I don't know how to say it and it is not hanging on the wall. At some of the other stores I can find it and just point. Puerto Pronto is a good little store and they might have as much as Zimat in an area about a tenth the size. It seems that all their stuff is out in the open so there is a lot to point at. I go in there and have to crouch down low and slide sidewise to get through all the stuff but the people are very nice and seem to help me right away. And I don't think they try to give me the gringo discount (twice the price) and there is a good chance they have what I need. The main problem is trying to figure out how to say what I need when it is not on public display. One time I needed a piece of wire with alligator clips on both sides so that I could check an electrical connection but I was not sure how to ask for a piece of wire with a roach clip on both ends. It took me about 2 weeks to get up the courage to try to obtain such an obscure item. I found it at a car-stereo/speaker/video player/TV remote control/radio store but it took a lot of courage to go in there and ask for something I had no idea what to call it. I mean trying to act out a roach clip is hard and I didn't want them to think I wanted to walk out with a bag of weed. Well it turned out that they had exactly what I needed. There was a box of them....Why? After all the anxiety of figuring out how to get it, the relief was enormous.

One of the things that I point to is little plastic plugs that you put in the hole that you have drilled in the cement wall to hang a picture or something so that I can put a screw in the cement. I seem to buy a lot of these little wonders. I don't know where they all go but I'll bet I have used over a hundred. You would think I could remember the name so that I could get them at other stores. I walk into Puerto Pronto and they start throwing them at me. Speaking of screws, just try to find the one you want.... Well there are two screw stores that I know of and I usually go to House of Screws (Casa de Tornillo). Its one of my favorite stores because they have all their screws and other things hanging on the wall so it is easy to point to what I want. You have to buy the very useful sheetrock screws by the screw as opposed to by the pound or kilo so you have to know how many screws you will need. If you screw up and don't get enough you have to make that second or third trip that I am so use to making. You can buy nails by the pound but not screws. The ferreterías have screws but not the selection the House of Screws has and they never seem to have the screws that I want.

One of the things that House of Screws has hanging on the wall are O-rings. (Don't ask) There are about 10-15 sizes hanging there. Well right before I left Puerto I needed one. The damn store was closed so I went back the next day and they were closed again so I went to the other screw store (El Gallo) and they were closed also. This went on for a few days. There must have been a screw convention in Acapulco or something. Now where in hell do you get O-rings in Puerto when the screw people are at the convention and all the ferreterías don't have them and the last hardware store of 5 that I went to said "It is difficult in Puerto"? I had to have one and it popped into my pea brain that cars use O-rings so I went to search auto parts stores. The second one I went to had it. What a relief. This could have been an all day thing as there are about 243 auto part stores in Puerto. By the way they are called O-rings in Spanish.

It seems that if you look hard enough you can pretty much get whatever you need in Puerto these days if you think about what to ask for or know where to point and can figure out all the possible places to look. It is frustrating though, when you go to get 2-3-4 things and you come back with NOTHING. You have to rethink the possibilities as I had to do with the O-rings. When I thought of the auto parts store I was so proud of the brainstorm but after the first store did not have the right size I thought that maybe cars used every size but the one I wanted and then I was depressed until I arrived at the second store and the guy had exactly what I wanted. I think he found it under an old radiator or something but he had it and my depression quickly turned to elation. That happens often in Puerto.

Anyway when you are uptown going to the Mercado or Ahorrara check out the other stores that you walk by so that if you ever need an O-ring or something obscure you will have an idea where to go. See if you can find the store where they do picture frames or where they sell mirrors or Direct TV remote controls, or where you can get your seat cushions repaired, goat tacos, where to buy bags of candy for the kid's birthday piñata that you knew where to get from an earlier stroll. There is the IMSS (social security) store that sells a lot of food products for a little cheaper than Ahorrara or the different doctor's offices, and the insecticide store(s) where you can get backpack sprayers and some malathion so you can give your hotel room a good spraying for mosquitoes before you go to bed, or one of the plastic stores where you can get some plastic dinnerware so that you have enough when your mother-in-law comes to visit (they also have real plates and glasses and pots and pans and Tupperware like things and other stuff). If you know where to find the funeral shop you can have your friend shipped home with no fuss. You can find out where to buy charcoal (carbón) for the BBQ that you bought at the BBQ store or a bigger Boom Box because your neighbors think they have the loudest one in town. If you look real hard you can find real milk, not the stuff on shelves that lasts for 23 years, open or not. Does your new dog friend have fleas? Well you will know where the vet is so that you can get health papers so that you can bring Fido home with you. As you can see the list is endless if you just take a stroll uptown. It will also give you something else to do besides sitting on the beach or at the pool, reading your book and enjoying your vacation.


P.S. While driving back to the U.S. we were getting gas at a Pemex station and right there on the ground was an O-ring that I am positive is the same size that I spent 3-4 days looking for. It is in my bag ready for the trip down next year.

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