Torre Torre Torre:
We looked in our handy dandy AAA Mexico TravelBook (now regionally organized) to see
what it had to say about Torreón. This is all we could find:
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express
12/1 - 4/30: $118
Location: Just ne on Mex 30.
Facility: Attractive hacienda style breakfast atrium. Close to airport. Located in financial district. Parking garage. 166 units. Some whirlpool units. Interior corridors.
Amenities: Extended cable TV, voice mail, irons, hair dryers.
Leisure Activities: Small heated pool, exercise room.
Guest Services: Meal plan available, gift shop, valet laundry.
Cards: AE, MC, VI
Seeing as how $118 is more than we spend on accommodations in two weeks, we promptly
threw away our AAA Mexico TravelBook (now regionally organized).
Note: We still love the AAA, though the gap between our love for it and the Piggly Wiggly
is beginning to widen. We love the Piggly Wiggly!
Enero 29, even later -
You know, it actually happens.
You've all heard the stories about the Mexican police force. You've all seen the movie
Traffic. And you say to yourself, naaaaah... it can't really be like that, can it?
Remember back when we went to Detroit?
How we talked about the Detroit news, and there were so many murders, arsons, rapes and
senseless beatings that there was barely time to report on the weather? And we said,
naaaaah... but it was?
Well, if it walks like a duck...
Now, as a disclaimer, I must add that not all of the Mexican Police Force is corrupt,
just like not all of Detroit is a crime-infested hellhole. Most of them, I'm sure,
are clean, straight, and by the book. After all, of the six policemen we saw in
Torreón, only two tried to stop us.
We were already stressed from driving in the city. I'll take a crappy libre through
the mountains again before driving in a Mexican city any day of the semana. But, we
needed a place to stay, and were told by my folks to find a hotel in a city with a
wall around it to protect the car. And since Mel gets first priority, we complied.
Today's Lesson... Ditching A Crooked Cop
1. Remember the exchange rate. A quick calculation is 10 pesos to the US dollar. If he
tries to fine you 1800 pesos, that $180, not $18.
2. Remember that you've done nothing wrong. Anything he says, shake your head in disbelief.
3. Don't give him your license or your passport. He may take it and get you to pay to get it back.
4. Exercise your inability to speak Spanish. Even if you do, pretend you don't. Remember:
you have no idea why they pulled you over.
5. If all else fails, ask for his badge number, or simply write it down so he can see it.
If he really is just trying to stiff you, he'll back down if he thinks you'll call his boss.
Note: This tactic will only work if you haven't actually
done anything wrong, and the cop is just being a dink. If you actually did run a
light, you're on your own.
We drove by a police car, in the midst of a whole whack of Mexican traffic, but of course,
we were the ones at fault. It was partially our doing, mind you, with our Canadian plates,
two bikes strapped to the back, and the dirtiest car in the city. We were carrying road salt
from seven different states, coupled with Mexico's finest dust. "Oh great," we said,
neither one of us worried, because we knew we hadn't done a thing wrong.
"Ahhh, buenos tardes!" said the cop, shaking my hand like he was an old friend who had recognized
my car. "Buenos tardes," I returned with a smile. He only spoke Spanish, but I was able to
understand the basics; he asked where we were from, where we were headed, but in a friendly sort
of way. I took up the attitude with him that, oh, what a nice welcome to the city, you're only
trying to help! So I kept on the subject, asked him where to find a nice hotel ("Donde esta Hotel?"),
to which he'd respond, "Ahhhh, hoteeeel..." feigning comprehension.
Finally, he spoke one of the only English word he knew: "Ticket". I knew it was coming, but I
played the fool for his sake. He turned his ticket pad over and pointed at "$800" written in pen.
I wrinkled my brow. "Nooooo. Why? Por qué?"
He spat out a string of Spanish, I'm sure simple Spanish, in the hopes that I'd understand.
I shook my head, not understanding. His sentences got shorter and shorter, until it was down
to one word and hand signals. I was pretty sure he meant "lights", as in the red kind, but
I didn't let on. It was time to pull out the two most important words in the Spanish language.
"No entiendo." I don't understand you.
He kept trying with the lights. I kept shaking my head. So he changed his story. Now I
was going too fast. I'd gone over the speed limit.
"No entiendo." Shrug.
That didn't work either, he thought. Perhaps he would try another tactic. Something about
peligroso. Maybe I was driving recklessly. It was like Inspector Gadget explaining his
buffoonery to Chief Quimby: "Would you believe..."
"No entiendo," I said again. "Ummm. Oh! I know!" I pulled out a notepad, and started to draw random lines
on it. Just swirls and circles and things. He had no idea what I was doing. Neither did I,
really. Just trying another diversionary tactic.
It was time to draw the final card. Aimee slowly, yet deliberately, pulled down another
notepad, took a long look through my window at his badge number. Then, in plain sight,
wrote it down on the pad, and put the pen away. She left the number on her lap.
He saw it. "Adios!" he said, and he waved. That was all it took.
Just for one last jab, I looked confused and said, "No entiendo?" one more time. He scowled
a little, and motioned with his hands that I could get going. "Ahhh," I said, "Muchas gracias!"
and back into the traffic we went.
So, friends, don't let anyone tell you it doesn't happen, because it does. You ask others who
have driven through Mexico. They'll do their best to be polite, and say oh no it doesn't really
happen that often but it did happen to me but I was the unlucky one but but but. Phooey on them.
It happened to my parents. It happened to my parents' friends. It happened to us. That's
enough times for me to offer pesos to donuts.
But, what the hey. It's better than dealing with the Detroit cops.