It’s a fact that bribery happens all over the world. In Mexico, it’s no different, and for tourists it’s most often seen in the form of an officer from the Transito pulling you over for some minor offense. Then making you a fantastic offer: they will not give you a ticket if you just pay right now.
We’re terrible at all things haggling, bribing, black market and law-breaking. We suck at rushing the queue and cutting people, even if that means standing there, like an idiot, while everyone around you muscles their way past. In the heat. With a crying toddler. Yet, we still do our patriotic duty, as Americans and stand in the stupid line — common sense be damned.
Of course, that’s one of the biggest complaints I hear about Mexico is the corruption of the police. So I share this story with a little hesitation because I don’t want to feed into that, because this kind of thing is pretty common around the world. It’s pretty harmless. Like that one time we crossed into Cambodia via Thailand, and the Thais had set up a fake Cambodian border office and convinced all the tuk-tuk drivers to take all the tourists to them, instead of the real border, where they did process your visa, but at a huge mark-up.
That was awesome.
If you can’t laugh at that and love Thailand anyway, then I don’t know what to say.
They wrote a sign on cardboard that said, The Cambodian Border.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Anyway here’s the thing: we normally suck at this stuff. Drew and I both have this rage problem when it comes to being ripped off. While we laugh about it later, in the moment, if that “oh this is some bullsh*t” switch gets hit, then we’re out. It’s really bad.
Drew has been pulled over four times in Mexico so far. The main highway between Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta is full of traffic cops and they love pulling people over. The first two times were because Drew took a left from the main highway, instead of going on the “lateral” that runs along the highway. For both of those the cops just gave Drew a warning.
See, Mexico isn’t so corrupt!
Okay so the third time was for his brake light being out. Which Drew didn’t believe but offered the guy 120 pesos (about $10) and he let him go.
Look at us, bribing our way out of traffic tickets!
Then a few nights ago, we go pulled over again. Brake lights!
Drew’s pretty much pissed now. He’s not going to give them money for fake brake light issues. Damn corrupt Mexican cops!
So he gets out of the car to talk to them. They say, “Oh well, we could give you 1/2 off the ticket if you pay now.”
“How much is that?”
“It’s normally 600 pesos but we’ll give it to you for 300 pesos [about $25]”
By now Drew is over it. He’s at that stage we refer to as “F*CK IT”.
“Yeah, I’m not going to pay that.”
“Well we will have to write you a ticket.”
“Okay, write me a ticket.”
They stall. You see, there’s absolutely no money in writing tickets. The pay is crap. They may have misjudged Drew.
Drew talks to them some more then hops back into the car.
“So what happened?”
He’s got a ticket. They’ve got his license. They KEPT his driver’s license!
Drew says, “I was like, no I’m not going to pay 300 and you know what, not only are you going to get zero money from me, now I’m going to make you do paperwork. So go ahead, fill out that ticket for me, I want to watch. you. write.”
“You did not say that.”
“No, but that would have been awesome.”
The next day we went to pay the ticket and retrieve the driver’s license.
It took less than 3 minutes. It cost 103 pesos.
“HAHAHA! Vindicated!” Drew says when he comes back into the car.
Later he realized his brake light was in fact out and he got a new fuse. We’re idiots. Sorry mildly corrupt Mexican transit cops. We’re kind of jerks. Also 300 was way too much, you should have gone lower.