Alright, this is a long one but worth the read.
I was pulled over by the Policia Municipal today. Now I had read many things about how corrupt they are, and to just do your best to pay them on the spot and move on with your life.
The officer pulls me over, and says I am not wearing a helmet, which is true. However, I had previously looked up helmet laws, and for most of Mexico, I read that you do not need a helmet if you are above 18. I explained this to him, but he was insistent. While he is holding my license, he is telling me I will not get it back until I go to the jail and pay the fine.
I figured bribing the cop was in my future, as he was pretty insistent on getting money. So I asked him how much he wanted. He told me if I were to go to the jail to pay the fine, it would be 400 pesos (About $20). Instead of this, he offered to settle it now for 300 pesos.
I was just about to pull the little money I had out of my wallet, when something told me to take my phone out and have him show me where the law was.
He starts scanning a file that was all the driving laws for the municipality of La Paz, and tries to lie to me pointing to a different law! I said that is not what that law says, so he keeps scanning. Eventually he gave me my phone back and said give me 200 pesos, to which I said if you can’t find the law I am not paying.
He handed me my phone and license, shook my hand and said I was all set!
A couple hours later, the same thing happens. I get pulled over again!
This time a different group of officers. I go through the same thing with him, but this time he actually shows me a piece of paper for a helmet law.
I figured I wasn’t getting out of this one without paying, so I bribed the new officer again. What I noticed in both instances, the officers wait for people to not be present around the scene before they accept the money!
Because we were on the main road, he said to me let’s go up around the corner so I can pay him. I bantered back and forth with him and his partner for about 5 minutes before moving around the corner.
At this point, I remember I have no more money in my wallet! And he still has my license. A predicament indeed.
We go around the corner, and he says ok you want to settle this? I asked him how much he wanted.
Here is the best part:
He says if I were to go to the jail and pay the fine it would be 800 pesos, so he would settle for 600.
I said “how come two hours ago your comrade told me it would be 400 pesos at the jail and he would settle for 300?”
At this point, I have his partner laughing loudly at the other side of the street, because he knew exactly what was going on.
I look at him and said I know I think it’s funny too!
The officer who was speaking to me said ok well how much money do you have in your wallet?
I take out my wallet to find a whopping 20 pesos ($1), and start hysterically laughing! I said I have 20 pesos, do you want it? At this point, him, his partner, and myself are laughing like we are old-time friends who haven’t seen each other in years.
He gives me my license back, rips up the ticket he was writing, shakes my hand, and they both go back to their car laughing saying “we are friends now”.
This all happened with my broken Spanish, and needless to say I know how to say helmet, among many other things, in Spanish because of these incidents.
It’s a learning curve, my friends! And I am just here for the ride, folks!
'Til next time,
2006 V-Strom 650 RTW trip - www.atravelingteacher.com
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