Welcome to the Adventure

Living in Mexico is often indescribable...you just have to live here. I have been journaling experiences for a while, and I hope you can get a feel for stupid-ass gringos trying to get it. But I am still here, and that says a lot for those of us sticking it out, as the payback is what makes life so good here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Driving Miss D

Huatulco isn’t so bad as far as driving goes, compared to the bigger cities of Mexico. To our credit our area's population is small, and not so many cars on the road. But it is an area where stop signs seem to be ignored, going through a yellow light is illegal unless it isn’t, and outside of Huatulco, you really have no idea what the driving laws are as they appear different in every community. Aside from the topes speed bumps, driving isn’t so bad, just nerve wracking. Taxis do pass on right and left though, and what buses they have always need to be passed. I haven’t got a traffic ticket yet here, but that isn’t to say it didn’t happen anywhere else, like in Acapulco. Huatulco is so benevolent, it is always such a safe feeling to drive here. This region has spoiled us for driving.

We went up to Acapulco (COSTCO, for those of us who can’t live without certain US products I am deeply ashamed to admit) a while ago. Our experience there was a test of our concerns about living in Mexico. We were stopped every day by the police, and had to buy our way out of tickets. The first stop was, we think, because we went through a yellow light to clear an intersection. In Huatulco you finish going through the intersection, without a thought, and drivers are always so polite, they wait. Apparently you can’t do that in Acapulco and must stop on yellow immediately, no matter what part of intersection you are through when it goes yellow. On-coming traffic be damned.

A carload (5) of officers pulled us over in front of the Hyatt. The usual questions where asked. One of oficers wanted Larry’s driver license, I refused to let Larry give it to him. I asked for a ticket. He then pulled out a book of tickets, not one missing by the way, and showed us the back of a ticket that there was a fine for what we did. (Three times your monthly salary, really!) Fine!? Ok, give us the ticket and we will go pay it at the police station. No, it didn’t work like that; they take your license, you go to police station, you pay fine, you get your license back. No, I said, we want the ticket. The packet by the way, was completely full, and a signature was on the bottom of every page we noticed, as he thumbed through the booklet. Then we got to the moment...the “mordita” (the little bite) moment. This is a cultural phenomena, deeply ingrained in the Mexican soul. But a bribe is a bribe. Not having done this before (except for that time in Mexico City were I couldn't get off a round-about) , we really didn’t know where to begin. Carload of 5 guys. We started with 100 pesos, ended up passing over 600 pesos. (We now have a form from the government that gets handed over to police when we are stopped, that they must fill in, sign and we send to federal government to check this bad habit).

The very next day, same exact spot, same reason (you’d have thought we learned a lesson), we get stopped again. Two hundred pesos this time, as there was only one officer. That intersection ought to have a warning sign: "Beware, mordita zone”. Huatulco seemingly has no traffic rules, but good manners. Have never even been in a position where a mordita would have been prudent here.

On the other hand, all drivers warn of traffic problems or police up ahead here, or don’t-pass-me-yet -flashes of lights, which seem uncannily telepathic. Roads are signed with messages like don’t leave rocks on the road. Who leaves rocks on the road? Well, when someone breaks down, they don’t pull over, they just stop, and put rocks in front of and behind the broken down car....and they leave them in the road when they have managed to get their car up and running again. Hence the warning signs. Rocks, topes, chickens, pigs, goats, and donkeys make driving just a little more of a challenge. Big fun. But Huatulco is so much more sensible about driving than any place else we have visited, so far..... And so it goes...

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