Jason and I had spent a few days in Mexico City with Fernando, experiencing the grand tour from such a kind heart. But, as usual, it was time to move on. I had my first encounter with food poisoning and spent most of the night preforming exorcisms in the bathroom. And as we hit the road, Fernando gave me some medicine to help quiet the demons, money to ensure we’d be eating something quality and for a good beer at the road’s end, and a warm goodbye. Fernando is a blessing of a soul.
But like I said, it takes hours to leave Mexico City, and one wrong turn quickly leaves you baffled where to go. We pulled over to check our map and gain our bearings, and that’s when the policia noticed us. I was completely out of it, I was tired and nauseous, oblivious to the corrupt man in front of me. He hassled Jason for supposedly parking illegally, and when I finally realized what was happening I explained in tired, half-assed Spanish that we are lost, Jason added that I was very sick. Three other policia crawled from the depths of the slimy hole they exist and upped their antics, yelling at me that we “need to respect the laws in Mexico” as they pulled Jason towards an alley. They deliberately moved their coats to expose their guns. I spoke to the three surrounding me in English as they spoke enough English to get by, when suddenly, they all claimed they didn’t and the game began. The policia in larger areas are corrupt assholes, but they know that if they are too harsh without reason to tourists that they will eventually lose their easy money when tourists stop coming. So they can only push so far. They threatened to take me to the station, and I insisted that they did (because I knew for a fact they wouldn’t because it wouldn’t pass with their higher ups unless they shared a massive amount of swindled dinero… which they knew they wouldn’t get). To no surprise, the threat was nothing but that, and they began demanding money. At this point, after speaking to them in Spanish, I gave them a dead look and told them “eh, sorry, I don’t speak Spanish.” All the while, I kept my eyes on Jason as he didn’t have the tatas to guarantee his safety. The game continued in circles.
Finally, they reunited us, demanding 2000 pesos for our “offense.” Jason said he didn’t have that much. I glared at them in silence. They lowered their demands to 700. Jason gave them 500, and they looked to me, demanding 200. I glared back and arrogantly told them “no.” They demanded again, to which I said “why?” By this point, about 20 minutes had passed and they were frustrated, more importantly, I was losing my ability to act calm and collected, my only defense against these thugs; I’d be a liar to deny that it was an unnerving experience, I knew for a fact that I’d be fine but my fears stemmed from Jason’s plight, and if they figured that out they’d used it against me. They would take him to the station, leaving me sick, stranded, and alone. I had to hide that I was worried for him (thank Jesus they separated us early when I was fully able to hide my concern)… and I was quickly loosing that stone face. They looked at me like I was the ultimate bitch and fool, there were threats in their eyes and for a fleeting moment I thought for sure they figured out my weakness, but instead they rolled their eyes, cursed, and drove away. It was all a game of time. But word spreads… and if you give money to the policia they’ll pass on the memo quickly. We found ourselves on the highway with a policia demanding we pullover… we ran.
That’s another one for the resume: running from Mexico Policia and besting them at their own game (poor Jason wasn’t so lucky!). As it turns out too, if you’re fortunate enough you can win them over with humor (Erik pulled that tactic), but it ultimately comes to time, high risk, and pushing the right buttons.
We ran like we had fire under our asses, darting between cars with a reckless lack of concern. On a bike, the traffic is a blessing to escape a cop in a car: the only time I could ever be thankful for the congested roads of Mexico City. It felt like days of pursuit, running through Mexico City and fearing any hesitation where the policia might see us, but at some point we approached the toll to leave the city and we knew that at that point we were safe.
Some miles later, we pulled over by a recently harvested field, 100 miles outside of Jalco. My appetite had returned, and we ate the usual backpacker’s fare: tortillas with refried beans. We sat down, leaning against each other to enjoy the sun and security. It didn’t take long before we both fell asleep, only to be woken by a male grackle singing his heart out above our heads. It’s the simple things, I think, looking back, as the peace of that nap in that field after being sick and scared is one of my favorite memories of that road trip. Jason’s bony legs weren’t the worst pillow either.