POPPED! Our first stop by the policía

Game on, Mexico.

After being here for three months, we knew it was only a matter of time until we got stopped by the cops. What happened took me by surprise. Here’s what went down.

Mark, Scout and I were driving on the carretara by Lake Chapala at about 9 last night.

1. Our headlight was out. We’d had it repaired last week, but it was out a 2nd time and we knew it. We were planning to get it fixed….mañana.

2. On our way home from dinner, an officer waved us over from the side of the road. Crap! He was municipal police, and his demeanor was serious—but not scary. He requested Mark’s driver’s license, along with our vehicle insurance and car-import paperwork.

3. When Mark returned to the car to get the paperwork, I jabbed him in the ribs and reminded him to use the special laminated color-copy driver’s license we’d stashed in the car for exactly these situations. Our thinking was if the officer takes it and then demands a bribe, who cares! We would just let him keep the license.

4. The cop took one look at our “special” license, and then sternly warned Mark never to hand it to a Mexican police officer again. Then he requested our real license. So much for that little piece of cleverness.

5. Mark fetched the real license. The rest of the paperwork was in order, so no problems there. I’m SO, SO, SO glad we had all the import paperwork with us and not just the sticker.

6. The officer was about to write a ticket (from a proper ticket book), but he and Mark got to chatting, and pretty soon the pair of them were laughing & carrying on.

7. The officer came over to my side of the car and visited with Scout & me. Totally nice guy, laughing and cracking jokes. He asked if we’d eaten in Ajijic. We said no, too rich for our blood, we’d just had tacos on the square in San Antonio. He seemed to appreciate this, and then proceeded to make fun of his relatives who live in San Diego and don’t like real Mexican soft-shell tacos.

8. Then the officer said forget about it, no ticket, just please use high beams until we got the light fixed.

Then with a wave he sent us on our way. Nicest guy ever.

Our traffic stop was a surprisingly positive cultural experience, and we didn’t get the ticket that we totally deserved.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Living Outside of the Box December 19, 2012 at 10:26 am

Yay! Glad you didn’t have to bribe…and wow…caught using the laminated copy! Smart man! Friendliness often is the best tool 🙂

I’ve never heard of them pulling over for something like a headlight…that’s so…um…NOB!


2 Renee December 19, 2012 at 10:50 am

It was very interesting, that’s for sure. The guy spotted the license copy in a heartbeat. So I guess that strategy is out the window.


3 Tom Medsger December 19, 2012 at 11:03 am

Hi, Renee and Mark,

A refreshing footnote on living in Mexico–the good, the bad, the everything-turned -out-alright. Mark you are one charming gringo! See, a little down-to-earth chat stripped away the authoritative exterior of the police and revealed common humanity. He sensed you were on the Mexican people’s “side.”

You are also realistic enough to know that this may not happen again.

Keep ’em coming, and Feliz Navidad!


4 Renee December 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Hey, Tom. I think that should be our new blog tagline…”The good, the bad, and the everything-turned-out-alright.” And yes, last night’s good fortune was appreciated but we certainly wouldn’t count on it every time we’re stopped…

Feliz Navidad to you too!


5 Amy @worldschoolAdventures December 23, 2012 at 3:16 am

Well that wasn’t the post I expected to read! Yay for good, honest people!


6 Renee December 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I know, right? I really thought we were cooked!


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