A few days ago I was scrolling through Facebook, when I saw a post about a young lady changing a tire for a man’s car.
There were lots of positive comments, saying that she was super strong and doing a great job, yet there were also others saying it was horrible, and sad, that at such a young age she was being “forced” to work. So, as a journalist, I wanted to go get the real story. I got my dad to drive me down to interview her, and when we were almost there and turned a corner I realized that I recognized this place!!
Around a year ago my mom needed to get a new tire, so a family friend had taken us to this same shop. But, what makes that story so memorable? The fact that my crazy dog, Raven, had gotten out and ran after our car all the way to the tire store, which was 2-3 miles! She didn’t want to leave me, that I get, but why when we left the familiarity of our own neighborhood did she go all the way?? Who knows. But, we got the tires fixed and a friendly woman from next door gave Raven some water. Then, we didn’t want to make her run all the way back, and didn’t even know if she would find her way back, so we put her in the car. After just drinking so much water her mouth was wet and drooling, so me, my mom and her friend, and the back seat of the car got completely covered in drool.
Anyways, back to the tire shop. It’s called Llantera Sta. Maria, and is located on Sta. Teresita #147 in barrio de Sta. Maria. The owner is Enrique, and he works with another man, and the girl, Camilla, who is his granddaughter. He sells many different types and brands of tires, and the cost always includes a new valve stem and anything else needed to place the tire, or tires, on your vehicle. Some brands he has are Euzkadi, General Tree, Kumho, Dean, and Continental, though he also has some other brands. He doesn’t have brands like Michelin, because he says that the brands he has are much cheaper, while still being the same great quality. Though, if you need a specific brand, he can get you that in one day, no problem. Also, he has very good equipment. His tire changer is European-style, and it does not scratch or hurt your wheels in any way. And his high-speed spin balancer is very safe, because similar to a modern washing machine it will not start until the hood is on it, and the hood can’t open until it has come to a complete stop.
Now, about the girl. When I said young lady I was emphasizing on the young part, since Camilla is only 10 years old, but she’s been working with her grandpa for three years since she was 7. She used to live right above his shop, and would sit and watch him work everyday, so she soon grew an interest towards it. She liked what she saw, and even though it was a dirty job, she wanted to learn, so he taught her, and after a couple days she got the hang of it! Though, her sister, who's 16, likes clean air-conditioned jobs, so she's working with them as the accountant and secretary. At first Camilla was doing smaller jobs, but she’s been a strong girl all her life, and quickly she started switching, rotating, and changing tires. Her grandpa taught her how to be safe, and she is so happy doing it, not only because it’s a fun job but also because she gets good pay. She’s also saving up her money, for long-term uses, so it just shows another way that she’s really organized, and super responsible.
She’s in the 5th grade, and does her school in the evening so she can work in the day. Also, she does all her homework for the week on Friday night or the weekends, since the shop closes Friday evening and opens back up Monday morning. I talked with her about school, and although she might go to some mechanic classes in the preparatoria, or high school, she doesn’t have plans to go to college. She wants to work in the tire business. No, she will work in the tire business. Imagine knowing what you’re going to do with your life at 10 years old? It’s incredible how mature she is!! With her mind, personality, and eagerness to be working I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t own the biggest tire store in Puerto Vallarta when she is older!!
Llantera Sta. Maria's Phone Numbers: 224-6825 & 322 130 7189