Dealing with the Policia

Discussion in 'Americas' started by BMW Kurt, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

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    It's real simple, you will almost never meet a Mexican cop who speaks enough English to matter so smiling and not arguing really does help. And it is important to remember in any country you wander, whether you speak the local languages or not, never let on that you understand the words of the man holding a gun. This provides an edge by making it more difficult for the cop/soldier to get you to comply. Never, I repeat never, smart off or show signs of hostility. Acknowledging that whoever is detaining you is in complete control is a great, and sometimes sufficient satisfaction for them. Deal with their machismo without cowering though.

    Although having rode every corner of Mexico for over ten years, and am always speeding, I still have not encountered the negative situations described by so many others. Keep a positive attitude and you'll have less problems wherever you travel. If you listen to all the babbling crime reports by chat-room "wise men" and stories of crooked cops, you will surely have bad experiences. Keep your eyes on the road and not on the ditch.

    That being said, I discovered that Central America and Africa was far worse for shakedowns. Try this whenever stopped-- Keep smiling and whether guilty or not, recognize the futility of arguing and request to pay the fine...by fumbling through your dummy wallet and eagerly handing the cop a travelers check. He will surely decline that offer, which you follow with insisting that he accept your credit card. Of course he'll ask for cash for which you only have a tiny amount of in your dummy wallet to placate any other roadside robbers. Because most often, the only reason for being stopped was a shakedown, the cop will quickly realize that he is wasting precious time better used on drivers of big, expensive SUVs.
    #41
  2. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

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    This is great advice. I had a similar encounter in Malawi when barefoot cops in ragged shorts tried to get me to pay a fine roadside or impound my bike. I was guilty as charged but without a receipt, I opted for the impound--and when they escorted me back to my hotel, I gave them a laptop slideshow of my trip thus far, describing all of the wonderful people I met on my journey. In the morning, with a proper receipt, I paid the zillion Kwacha fine ($8) and we all parted friends.
    #42
  3. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    Tuxpan is a really neat, pretty town, isn't it? I hope to get back there and hang out for a few days in a few months.
    #43
  4. sjeproductions

    sjeproductions Been here awhile Supporter

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    When I last went through Copper Canyon, we encountered more then our share of policia and the experiences were always neutral or positive. Most of the time they were simply bored and wanted to hear about our travels. Granted the initial reaction to policia with automatic weapons can always be tense because we aren't used to that much fire power in the US, but keep your cool, keep that smile and don't assume it's going to be bad. Who knows, you might end up with fun photos (like this one) to show your friends...

    [​IMG]
    #44
  5. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    If you're going to carry a card, carry this one, and play the part

    [​IMG]
    #45
  6. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    [​IMG]

    Well thats an interesting idea! [​IMG] I wear 2 hearing aids and have lost about 35% of my hearing and can not function without the aids, so I say a lot of Yo soy poco sordo! When I stop and take my helmet off the first thing I do is put in the aids and get all sorts of wierd looks. Sitting on benchs in the Zocalos children are really attracted to them because they dont see them much in Mexico.
    #46
  7. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    You want to print something useful for the Spanish speaking world?

    Print up some stickers that say:

    "EN CASO DE ACCIDENTE NO ME QUITEN EL CASCO"

    That is going to be far more useful. Put them on your helmet and leave them there.
    #47
  8. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    My boss used to say that, but none of them were ever adopted :freaky
    #48
  9. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Philosopher

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    OK, OK. I get it! I wish I could say I was PUI but I was stone cold sober and I'll admit it was a friggin' stupid thing to put out there. It is not the first mistake I have ever made, and I really doubt it will be the last.

    BTW - I quit my job yesterday so I can make this trip. My planned departure date is March 15, 2012.
    #49
  10. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    No worries, Kurt!
    Relax, and printing a sticker with the casco deal on it is not a bad idea. You can also give them out to fellow riders along the way as many don't have this.
    If you are coming down the east side of Mexico, PM me and I can show you some interesting riding here.
    Have a safe trip and enjoy yourself. It's a time honored tradition that everyone has some fun at someone else's expense and it's ok because nobody loses an eye. LOL!
    That "sordo" thing is pure evil genius, by the way.
    #50
  11. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Stop by San Antonio on your way and while filling up on Texas BBQ we can go over some maps, photos, and notes. I have a library on Mexico that's pretty comprehensive you can scan. :freaky

    Now that I've put it on the interweb, los transitos will become suspicious when they start stopping 20+ "deaf" guys riding through their territory :rofl
    #51
  12. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Philosopher

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    :thumb


    :thumb

    Well, I am not a total touring noobie. Over the past thirty years I have toured Europe and most of North America. I am a total noobie to riding south of the border, though. I will be out of my comfort zone on this trip, and I think that is a good thing.

    My current plan (which I am sure will fall apart on day 2 of the trip) is to ride to Texas (my home state) and get new tires mounted. From there I'm going to ride across the state to Big Bend and spend few days there. I spent time there in the 70s when you could walk across the river to Boquillas del Carmen and get a cold Carta Blanca. I understand that since 9/11 you can't do that anymore.

    From there I'm going to cross at Eagle Pass and head for the eastern coast and eventually cross into Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and winding up in Meteti, Panama. Spend a couple of days there and then head back up the Pan American Highway this time riding through El Salvador back to Mexico. In Mazatlan I will take the ferry over to Baja and ride up to San Diego (re-entering at Tecate) to visit my son that lives there. My wife will fly out and we will do some sight-seeing together for a while.

    From San Diego I'm riding up to Nevada to ride Highway 50 (The Lonliest Road in America) and then over to Monument Valley. From there I think I'm going to pretty much high tail it home through the mid-west.

    As I said this plan will probably fall apart faster than it took me to type all that! :lol3

    I teach ESL here and even have a few leads of a few Tios and Abuelos I may be able to stay with while riding there. Quitting my job in this economy may be the hardest part of the trip! :huh
    #52
  13. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Philosopher

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    God, after living in North Carolina for so long I could use some real BBQ! My sister sends me a CARE package with sauce and dry rub once a year. The stuff they call BBQ here would gag a maggot! :puke1
    #53
  14. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    The local favorite, Harmon's, just recently burned and they're trying to get it back up and running. The big San Antonio classic, Texas Pride, is close to my place and has been featured on Guy Fieri's TV show, "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives."
    #54
  15. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    The BP is opening Boquillas up again sometime in '12 :freaky
    #55
  16. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Philosopher

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    I'm originally from Longview and we used to buy our BBQ from an old black man that lived on "the other side of the tracks". Eating his food was a religious experience. He had a sign over his kitchen door that said "You cannot make good BBQ and follow health regulations". :dg
    #56
  17. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    :freaky
    #57
  18. Dan Diego

    Dan Diego Long timer

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    I'll echo what Pirate John said. Your consular official can't/won't help with these minor issues.

    Also, there's a level of bluffing required, and you'll have to know your limits. If you really don't want your bike towed (or ridden!) to the station while you talk to a judge/supervisor/the cop's friend, then don't insist on it: Try to settle the issue at the initial location. You may have to negotiate from the back of a caged vehicle...that's just an intimidation tactic. When the cuffs go on, or several other officers arrive....well, START BARGAINING!

    Another consideration is the level of officer you're dealing with: Transito? Federale? The cost of the infraction increases with the level of officer you're dealing with.

    A simple traffic infraction (e.g., too fast in a traffic circle) is different than an accident or injury to another driver, pedestrian or animal. You'll want to handle the situation as quickly as possible at the scene and move along.

    A confident, easy-going attitude will take you far. Unless you "know someone" or "are someone" you don't want to elevate the problem. Keep small bills ($5, $10) in different locations on your body. They will look through your wallet, so that's not the best place to keep ALL of your $$$.

    Take it from a guy who's dealt with all levels of law enforcement in many parts of Mexico: It's not too big of a deal and your odds of resolving any matter with the above advice are greatly enhanced with a smile and easy attitude.
    #58
  19. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    I generally disagree with just about everything Dan writes regarding travel in Mexico :D but this is spot on. Relax, keep smiling and its all going to work out.

    These days in my experience the Federales will not try to shake you down unless you screwed up with some very obvious infraction. Even then,
    I still insist on going to the station to properly and legally pay the fine. The municipal transitos are another story, but they are pretty harmless and will send you on your way after a while if you take it easy, relax, smile, and dont get all up in their asses about pulling you over.

    You have to remember that these guys are cops, they have power, and they want respect. So be polite and give them all the respect you muster, but stop short of giving them money. You'll have to play the game occasionally, but its just not a big deal.
    #59
  20. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    That's the attitude. I'm in my second year of riding down here and it's become sort of fun for me.

    I'm back in Bolivia now and the last time I was shaken down was at a checkpoint in Paraguay heading to Asuncion from Iguacu. It is one of those random stop checkpoints where if you make eye contact with them they flag you down. I broke my rule of not making eye contact with them. I pull over, take off my helmet and throw a big smile and a "Que Onda, amigos!" at them and we joke around for a bit.

    The police man segues into the mordida segment of the conversation as he points out the scratches on my tank and hand guards from various biffs I've had and explaining to me how it is prohibited to ride a bike in this condition.

    I then transition to the "Lo siento, me espanol es muy poco, amigo" then I follow up with an inquisitive, "que significa mordida"?? All the while smiling.

    And like clockwork he goes into his best attempt at translating, hand gestures, writing, etc. And I volley all of his attempts with "Que? No entiendo, amigo" Still smiling my ass off.

    As always they give up, and I'm on my way after a hand shake and them wishing me a safe journey. This was one of my longer stops at close to 15 minutes. Most stop take less than 5 minutes.

    I've been stopped in every country I've ridden in and it is beyond my comprehension how people resolve to throw money at the situation. It really is not needed and is the mark of fear and or laziness imo.
    #60