Let me start off by saying if you ever plan to drive anywhere yourself in Mexico please commit this post to memory.
Corruption in the Mexican police force runs rampant we all know that so how the heck do you get out of sticky situations without forking over your well earned cold hard cash every. single. time. Here’s what worked for us, more than once!
1. Make sure the person driving is male
2. Make sure you have a permit for your car to be in Mexico
3. Make sure you have a female passenger that can pull off being really pissed off (super easy part) and slightly offensive but yet knows when to shut the f*ck up
4. Make sure your male partner remains calm and reasonable throughout the conversation (knowing fluent Spanish also helps)
5. Throw your dignity out the door and LIE, LIE, LIE!
That’s it! it’s just that easy and it worked every time once we figured it out.
Acapulco brings to mind Mexico circa 1980’s early 1990’s when it was THE destination. Returning travelers peddling tales of daring cliff jumpers and beautiful sandy beach vistas upon their return.
Driving into the town in the late fall of 2008 it was clear from the vacated resort skeletons and deserted streets the party had long ended but it seemed someone had forgotten to clean up. The air was thick with memories of the glory days lined with a layer of regret. Where had all the money gone? Certainly not into infrastructure improvements and updating leaving a sad, crumbling old resort town to slowly turn to dust.
As we meandered along, feeling not quite comfortable, Ricardo mistakenly drove through a flashing yellow light (which actually means stop in Mexico) and straight into the menacing glare of two federales. With just a slight nod of his head there was no question we were going to have to pull over. Shifting nervously in my seat, I knew we had been lucky to get this far without incident, I looked over at what might have been the most scariest looking police officer on the planet. Tall, for a Mexican, thin, wiry, pock marked face with a big scar along his left eyebrow and dark, dark eyes that with one glimpse left you void of all hope. Oh, and he had a gun and his partner had an even bigger one where he stood leaning casually against the hood of their truck a few meters ahead chewing and spitting tarry looking substance onto the dusty roadside.
OK, so I didn’t actually use any of the tricks above with this guy he scared the bejeezus out of us and frankly Ricardo had just technically broken the law in their land so we ended up handing over as little cash as possible the whole incident costing us $65 which was actually all the cash we had on hand. However pissed we were at having to bribe the guy we were silently thankful to just be alive.
The next morning; however, armed with very little sleep and a desperate desire to get the hell out of Acapulco we found ourselves being pulled over again just before leaving the city. I didn’t know it before this incident but it turns out I have a voice that occasionally pops into my head that vaguely sounds like a pissed off J Lo with snapping fingers waving about and it was yelling at me “OH, HELL NO!”
Two young fresh faced transit cops politely request Ricardo to exit the vehicle and take him to the back of the van to “chat.” But me (and my alter ego aka angry, snappy J Lo) are not about to sit this one out and I jump out of the car with a verbal onslaught of slightly aggressive lies/threats (use words like consulate, ambassador, corruption, whatever you think might work) littered with offensive, do not use in front of your grandmother, kinda words all entirely in English.
Looking utterly bewildered they calmly ask Ricardo to ask me to remain in the van – “No!” I say as Ricardo simultaneously throws up his hands. At this point I actually start to calm down because I realize they feel sorry for Ricardo, mano y mano, they can not understand why his wife will not listen to him so they kindly ask Ricardo to request I apologize to them, which I do, tersely, in English. They exchange a few words in Spanish, shake hands and pat him on the back as he walks back to the driver’s seat.
Knowingly triumphant we both hop effortlessly back up into our seats. We look at each other all smiles and Ricardo burst into laughter while pulling away from the curb telling me they told him to “take his wife and get the hell out of Acapulco!”