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"He took my drivers license and said the fine was 1200 pesos ($120!). I pleaded poverty so the second cop leaned in and said 600 pesos would do today."
- Kirk Stephan

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Mexico

Mexican highway tales: post-crash
by Kirk Stephan, on the road in Mexico
Mar 13, 2000

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Mexico Travel Guide  Travel Stories in the Americas  Mexican Webcams  Mexico Profile  Map of Mexico

Chapter 2

The chilly nights finally got to my bones, which were feeling better but craved the hot beaches to the South. So I headed for the bus station with a stop at a cafe for juice and a glance at the local paper. Spying a VW van for sale I reassessed my plan, and, long story shortly, bought the vehicle and headed on down the highway.

All seemed fine, until an hour out, in the middle of nowhere, without a place to pull off, the motor stopped, following a sickening "pop" from the dash accompanied by a large spark and smoke! Coasting down the long grade I luckily spied a 12 foot siding and made it in . After spending most of the rest of the day walking back and forth miles in both directions I located a mechanic who fixed the appropriate wire. I was off again, though deflated. But since I only had another 4000 kilometers to go, I decided not to get excited.

When I reached the 4-lane road through Queretero it was smooth sailing, though the tolls were excruciating: final calculations revealed the cost to be a peso/kilometer (10 cents per kilometer!)

Mexico City was the next hurdle. I'd never made it through this mega-monster without getting lost in it, plus getting rousted by the local constabulary. This trip wasn't different. After being lost for 3 1/2 hours, and nearly through the worst, they got me at a traffic light. They had me red-handed for a charge; no seat belt on! I hadn't even located or looked for it yet.

The first of the three, "Vodka Breath", leaned in and showed me fine print in his book saying he could take my license plate if the fine wasn't paid promptly. He took my drivers license and said the fine was 1200 pesos ($120!). I pleaded poverty so the second cop leaned in and said 600 pesos would do today.

"Take my plate, I'm broke!" I whined.

Then the third leaned in and said softly: "300 pesos and you're on your way." At this point, glaring at the tough faces, I decided to pay up and get away...

Finally through this mess, I was again on the tollway, barreling down the mountain toward Veracruz. I turned at Cordoba and stayed on great, nearly empty highways till Minatitlan the next day. The roads here became 2-lane again but were smooth and the truck traffic was light. I started losing a lot of oil and had to stop and have the whole engine removed to replace the main oil-seal just after Villahermosa; otherwise the van was running well.

Fidel Castro comes to the rescue, or does he?

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