I’m pretty sure that MacGyver (Old T.V. Series) received his training in Ecuador! If you’ve not seen the show, it presents the lead character, MacGyver, as a non-violent secret agent with a thorough knowledge of science and an ever-present Swiss Army Knife. With only his knowledge, his knife, some occasional duct tape and whatever else is within grasp, MacGyver could manufacture, repair or alter absolutely anything to resolve the most harrowing circumstance and it always worked!
I have truly come to believe that the industrious people we now live among could have easily been MacGyver’s mentors. This is not a culture of consumerism where advertising firms bombard the media with reasons why they think we need their products; at least not in the part of Ecuador where we live. I’m sure the larger cities receive their fair share of advertising. Here on the coast where life remains simple and, perhaps even backward by most standards, everything is repaired multiple times and care is taken to preserve humble possessions and assets.
A family-of-four may rely upon a 25 year-old motorcycle as primary transportation and it must run. I am often astonished at the number of very old motorcycles I see on the roads here. They are bright and shiny and appear well kept. While walking, one cannot help but notice the large number of small repair shops catering to this trade. If a required part cannot be purchased, a replacement is manufactured by hand.
Need a new muffler for your car? They are custom welded from scratch. Whatever it is, it can and will be repaired. Now…not all repairs are equal. Some are shoddy and finding the right place to go for the correct repair does take some time. As is the case everywhere, not all craftsmen are of equal talent or character. It may take a time or two to discover the most talented craftsmen or “maestros” for your particular job. They exist in every field and many crossover to other crafts.
I am now thoroughly convinced that if anything breaks or needs modifying, some one here is quite capable of repairing…with great care and skill…the thing, whatever it is. I no longer worry about finding a part for anything.
A buddy of mine bought a fancy, Japanese made, countertop ice maker for his kitchen. I think he paid around $450 for it. It contained electronic circuit boards and some internal mechanics and gears that flipped and spun molds around as well as a miniature refrigeration mechanism for freezing water. It broke. He took it to a local appliance repair shop without much hope. Yeah, you guessed it. In a week, it was repaired and ready to go and is still working great today.
I have had the pleasure of watching craftsmen repair and manufacture things here. I sometimes just stop to admire their process. I’m sure, to them, I’m a weirdo but they can’t possibly understand that I come from a throw-a-way society where repairing things is a lost art and my culture has been trained to believe we need the “new” or the “better” or the “latest” in order to feel we are a success. They would never understand. Frankly, neither do I.
This afternoon, I will retrieve my car which has been undergoing some modifications to the front seating to give me some much needed additional room. It was not a simple job. The gas tank and filler neck needed to be removed and re-routed. The rear wheel wells needed to be cut and re-shaped, new tracks for the seats needed to be manufactured and then all the new, welded metal needed to be repainted. Once into that job, I also had him replace the rear floor, cutting out the old floor and welding in new diamond plate as rust had begun to weaken the structure. I enjoyed watching the progress over the past couple of days. He was meticulous!! The quality of his efforts has been exceptional and all done with very basic hand tools and a great deal of skill.
I have also watched numerous sidewalk motorcycle mechanics handle sophisticated repairs with the most basic tools…making a specialized tool if needed.
As I have said numerous times, these are industrious people and while, as in any culture, there are a few who choose not to work but select, instead, a life of crime, they are in the minority. MacGyver, if not actually trained here, could have learned a few things from these folks.