Curbside Recycling: BMW 2002, Bavarian Chocolate

Work had taken us to a vintage household in downtown Santa Tecla (El Salvador), a town with still some semblance of the old Spanish style city grid. The house was a large type, once common for large families; with open yards, long open hallways and period correct architectural detailing. While wifey and her entourage were busy with work, I took a walk around the large yard, only to discover that the house’s owners were true Germanophiles.

Lost in the receding storage area, amongst other BMWs and VW buses -and drying clothes, plus other debris-, the remnants of a 2002 came into view.

Look at all that junk! Wait… is that a 2002? Or a 1600?

Ok, there’s a derelict Range Rover as well. So maybe Europhiles… but most vehicles were of German origin. It was a depressing sight, for sure. One of my favorite vehicles of youth lost under a pile of accumulated rubbish. And still… the patina, the photo-like montage, the car’s lines still exuded beauty and were part of the landscape in ways that touched my senses with -saddened- pleasure.

There it was, the car that revived and set the path for BMW, in forlorn state. Just a static remainder of its glory days.

The obligatory ‘for sale’ sign is evident in the back window (Se/Vende, in Spanish). At some point, the family thought someone would fork out some cash for the car’s remains. At what point did they give up and just opted for it to become one with the landscape? Lots of patina on its surfaces, yes. A bit more and it will surely fade into memory.

What’s that? A red Vitara back there? Well, still being a large family in the house, someone values affordable spare parts, but still refusing to go full Toyota, or Kia (the norm around here). Either that or he/she is a defector. Better not to ask.

What’s that? Wanna take a look at the interior? Sure, let’s go for it.

Such a logical, purposeful interior. Would love to have a chance to sit behind that wheel. Yes, even in that state, bug bites included.

I suppose the car’s owners are true to German engineering, for the vehicle lacks the usual other-brand-spare-part local mechanics tend to indulge in. Still, thin family finances seem to have doomed this 2002. Let’s look at that front face one more time.

In typical Latino style, the household’s members delve into all kinds of occupations. Some vocational, some a hobby, some a livelihood. Surrounding the car, abandoned fridges (?), chemical products (for agriculture, I think), a TV’s remnants, other unidentifiable bits and yes… a VW bus bench.

In true Germanophile fashion, and with stretched finances (the norm in these lands), the family takes to the one car lovers of German metal can deal with, the VW. And in this case, VW buses.

Let’s move a few steps to the right… and quite a collection comes into view. If you must know, the yellow one is in running condition. I won’t belabor on the blue one. Can’t quite tell what all those paint cans are for, lots of tinkering for sure. VW Bus, the perfect height for you to work on your favorite pastime! A sales line that never ocurred to Wolfsburg Inc.

Also, that steering wheel, on the yellow bus, from a Golf? Maybe originality is not as important as I thought, maybe it’s got to do with German origin… Too bad all BMW parts are priced so highly. Still, such lovely sights, even in non-running condition.

Lovely detailing, I could do a painting just based on this shot. Looks like someone has been sanding/scraping this quarter? Could it be an optimistic member of the household, putting the odd-hour every 6 months or so, in hopes of restoration?

Talking about optimistic souls… Just as we were on the verge of leaving the house, work finished, we came across El Choco, a fellow my wife knew since college. Turns out the VW Buses and the many painting tools had an explanation.

El Choco’s working quarters.

El Salvador, tiny country that it is; get a mistress, check her background, for it may turn out to be your relative. El Choco, old acquaintance of my wife, and the house belonging to his family. So one more VW Bus to be added to the collection: that of his working quarters, were he serves artisan chocolate all over town. Vehicle mods done at his house, lettering and tooling as well (paint cans explained). One advantage of drivetrain components being in one end of the vehicle, endless possibilities for modifications! A work of love… and need… for a livelihood.

El Choco, at work.

It’s midafternoon at the park, a lazy weekend day. What better than to grab a cup of hot chocolate from El Choco’s dedicated hands? Funny thing to meet him at his home, getting his equipment ready for one more day of work. To think of the many times we bought a hot cup from him.

I had met him few years before, with my wife telling me of his new venture, to sell locally produced chocolate. By that point, he had been dealing with local cocoa bean farmers and training on his trade for a couple of years. His travelling shop started appearing around town not long after.

Yes, cocoa beans, the source for chocolate. The produce of pre-Columbian natives in the Central America region and source of their livelihood. As the Spaniards came, such plantations came into disuse, production of the crop moving mostly to Africa, to be refined in Europe, in such places as Bavaria…

And going back to Bavaria… the day was coming to an end, light was fading. Time to leave. We said goodbye to El Choco and looked back at the desolate ruined Bavarian wonder. No idea if the family would ever consider selling what’s left of it, they probably look upon it almost as a family member by now.

It looked even more beautiful in the twilight. A sight that I could savor with as much joy as I do chocolate.


More on the 1600 & 2002:

BMW 2002 Freshly Squeezed

BMW 2002 1972 Fifty Years of Unbeatable Success

BMW 2002 1976 The Ultimate Big Bumpered Driving Machine

Vintage Review 1968 BMW 2002 Car and Driver

Vintage Review BMW 1600 & 2002

Cohort Sighting BMW 2000-02 Touring The Hatchback Version