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Old 28-12-2014, 22:38   #1
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A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

Sitting here on my boat up in the Sea of Cortez and after a good day's work installing the watermaker and now relaxing here in the evening, I thought I would relate a story of my drive from Ca. to Mx. all went well state side. I crossed just east of San Diego at the Otay Mesa crossing. I was told this was easier when crossing with a ton of boat gear. They are set up as a commercial crossing and are more knowledgeable about boat gear and TIP's.
I have a TIP (Temporary Import Permit). The permit clearly allows me to bring gear across the border without the 16% import tax. Most of the gear were items that belonged to the boat while others were more generalized hardware. Since I didn't have anything to declare for tax reasons, I went through the "no declare" line. The nice military lad waved me through and I was on my way.
A mile or so later, I was flagged over at a check-point. Lets call it check-point alpha. He wanted to look in the back of the pick-up, so I opened the shell to a knee-deep pile of boat gear and of course my Potabote on the racks on top of the truck. He was clearly lost as what he should do. With a smile, he said "Gracias" and I was on my way. I was travelling on a Saturday because I had been informed that this was the best day as things tend to be a little more relaxed.
There were many other check-points...bravo, charly, delta, echo foxtrot and so on. Each extorting receiving a little cash each time. Funny how I kept thinking...oh oh...this is it...they're going to want "tax" money. It never happened. One check-point was a young lady, sitting in a federal truck, texting and waved me through without so much as laying eyes on me.
So as you see, the import process was pretty cool. But let me tell you about Mexicali. I had heard, being a border town that it had become pretty corrupt. I guess the story is, when Fox ran the country, everything got semi cleaned up. But here is an interesting thing that happened to me there while driving down. First, Mexico's GPS maps are very inaccurate. You can be driving on Mx. Int. 2 and on the screen it shows you 500 yards away from it. Needless to say, I got lost once. Finally, I got my bearing straight and passed a familiar church....again. So I know I had done a big circle.
What became strange were the Police. One would get on my tail, so I would change lanes. The PD car had difficulty changing lanes and gave up. I thought..."Hum...I wonder what that was about"? 2 minutes later, I notice a Motorcycle cop. Not the usual 1985 Yamaha 185cc. No...this guy was decked out on a brand new 700+cc white stallion bike. I have heard the cops have to buy their own bikes. If that is true, he was doing pretty good.
He was back 2 vehicles from me and in the 3rd. of 4 lanes. I was in the 2nd. lane. The speed limit was 60kph. I was doing maybe 65 with cars on both sides of me passing me. As the cop came closer on my left, I noticed him looking at the back of my car. Ah ha!...California. He whipped around the left of me, scooted up 3 cars and then cut off traffic to get all the way over to the right into some kind of alcove. I shrugged it off as strange but hey...I'm in Mx.
Not 15 seconds later, He was on me with lights on. I pulled over and he explained to me that I was speeding and this was a serious infracsion (Spanish). He pointed up to the 40kpm sign and the one english sign under it, written in English stating..."controlled by radar". Technically, I had not reached the 40kpm. indicated sign but oh well. I will also add both the speed and radar signs were brand new and very shiny. Unlike everything else in Mx.
Here is the conversation that took place. For humor reasons and the fact I have no idea of this guys name, lets call him the Big Burrito in Blue, or BBB.

BBB: Espanol Senor?
CS: No Sir, not a word (not exactly true)
BBB: Oh Senor...big trouble today. You infracsion...very bad. You too rapito.
Then BBB starts telling me how much it will cost. I play dumb as I'm trying to figure out what this guy is really after. I'm hoping for the best and expecting the worst. He keeps telling me the fine is $100 US. I keep saying...Pesos?, pesos?
BBB: Oh no Senor (and ten walk back to his bike, opens a saddlebag and brings back an empty ticket book no less.
He rights at the top 1098 pesos and below it $98 US. I keep playing dumb, scrunching my face up all the more. I can see at this point he is becoming a little irritated with this dumb gringo.
BBB: Maybe Senor, we go Policia Stacsion. (Perfect...this should show if he is legit or not.
CS: Oh Si Senor...I follow you. (At this point he is clearly perturbed).
BBB: No Necesario amigo. We fix here. (and points again at the $98 us.)
I pull out a 20 peso bill with my face scrunched up again and he is clearly loosing patience with me. I'm feeling this could go badly soon and I have a truck full of boat gear that does not need to be impounded or lightened up.
Finally he writes $60us. So I try one last time to barter it down by pulling out 3, 20 peso bills ($4 us). He blurts out...
BBB: United States money. (my...his English has improved). I look astonished...
CS. Oh Senor....so much (as I'm slowly pulling out 3, $20 bills)
He slips his gloved hand into the interior of the cab to conceal the transaction. I immediately hold the 3, $20's outside the window for all Mexicali to see. He quickly grabs it, rolls it up and assures me justice has prevailed.
The only place I feel where I had gone wrong was telling him my destination. I had a feeling that he might call his buddies ahead for some further fleecing. While pulling out the $20's I was trying to conceal the many larger bills I had with me. But all was well and I made my destination, although $60 lighter and a fun story.
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Old 28-12-2014, 22:51   #2
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

Ohh man!! A gringo lost in Mexico!! funny....
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Old 01-01-2015, 21:19   #3
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

I just came back from 2 weeks in Mexico... a beautiful and curious country... I wish I had a better handle on the goings on there, I was definitely taken advantage of in terms of my transactions but a good time was had by all. Towards the end of my stay there I was starting to pick up on some of this kind of stuff and figure it out, just in time to be whisked away back to my homeland.

Went on a catamaran tour on a Leopard 45 to Isla Mujeres and they bashed into the wind with everyone sitting on the trampoline/saloon roof with no warning to many of the unsuspecting guests, motorsailing too, to make a schedule for lunch. Not what many of the guests were expecting and my beer was certainly the saltiest I ever had.
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Old 01-01-2015, 22:00   #4
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

CS, I feel your frustration. I sit here in my house in Imus, Cavite, Philippines. It's right on a main street here. For the Xmas holidays there were many panhandles coming by the gate requesting pesos but at least the police here are not as corrupt as in MX.

I really don't mind giving to the poor people of 3rd world countries but to government officials is really out of line.

Your story reminds me of many I've heard over the years. It seems MX hasn't change much for the better. But glad to hear you got thru without much of a burden.
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Old 01-01-2015, 22:47   #5
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

Just great. You've got people on both sides of the border groaning over how you perpetuated a stereotype that most Mexicans, policia included, wish they could leave back in the sixties.

Record the encounter. Go to the cop station. Tell them AND US his name. You did get this creep's name and badge number before paying him off, right?

The 'blue burrito' slur rests on your karma, without any comment from me.
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Old 02-01-2015, 07:51   #6
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
CS, I feel your frustration. I sit here in my house in Imus, Cavite, Philippines. It's right on a main street here. For the Xmas holidays there were many panhandles coming by the gate requesting pesos but at least the police here are not as corrupt as in MX.

I really don't mind giving to the poor people of 3rd world countries but to government officials is really out of line.

Your story reminds me of many I've heard over the years. It seems MX hasn't change much for the better. But glad to hear you got thru without much of a burden.
During a New Years party here at the yard I asked around and was told many similar stories as I had. Some even more ridiculous. One, was the cop even entered there (man & wife) back seat and shook them down. I asked if things had been better under President Fox. All said no...Mexico has not changed. I never saw this before as I sailed in but this time was by car to work on the boat. I'm leaving soo and instead of retracing my route to the US, I'm heading straight north to Arizon, then crossing over to the coast. At least if I get a ticket there, it was because i actually did something wrong...

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Just great. You've got people on both sides of the border groaning over how you perpetuated a stereotype that most Mexicans, policia included, wish they could leave back in the sixties.

Record the encounter. Go to the cop station. Tell them AND US his name. You did get this creep's name and badge number before paying him off, right?

The 'blue burrito' slur rests on your karma, without any comment from me.
If the policia wanted to leave this so called stereotype back in the 60's, then they should have stopped extorting money from motorist back in the 60's. I'm sorry to say, as others have I've talked to, it's alive and thriving. If you don't enjoy the BBB humor...oh well. I think we all tend to do that when we want to tell a story and put the offending person in a bad light. Just listen to the way people describe their ex after a nasty divorce or are confronted by a rude customer service person. Are you telling me that you never do that or that the cop never does that? I don't think so. It human nature.
"Record the encounter. Go to the cop station".Living so close to Mx, I'm amazed you made such a statement. If that cop was on the take, what are the odds the station is supporting him? That would open up a multitude of scenarios (all unpleasant) that could occur. Especially since I had gear I intended for the boat. Most readers can read into what I'm talking about.
By the way... I think he ran over my dogma with his karma...
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:14   #7
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

..I asking myself what could happened if you insisted to go at the station, refuse to pay (would you tried the same on USA??) and do the right..
Because while exist people bribe, the corruption still existing.
I lived on Mx, on live aboard and at land on very heavy cities like Ciudad Juarez, I cross all south america on a motorcycle, back by sail (by Atlantic), I was asked thousand of time for money and never.. (read closely) NEVER pay a bribe, nothing, nada...
If people stop playing dumb and step and go to station, these kind of situation gonna end.
It's a perverse, stupid game between the dumb tourist and the local.
People! Stop playing the dumb gringo! If somebody asked you for a bribe, do not fold!! NO all the people on Mx or any other "third country" want to milk you!!
For real!! You can go down to Mx or Thailand (and for your surprise) your gonna find people who do not want your dollars.. sound incredible?? let me give the recipe..
1) Stop playing the dumb gringo.
2) Use your common sense
3) Think with an open mind about kindness
4) Enjoy the moment more than your wallet

..and I can tell for me.. after more than 30 years on the water, thousand of miles over water and roads, never a problem...
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:37   #8
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

American shakedown: Police won't charge you, but they'll grab your money - World - CBC News
This may put it all in perspective.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:48   #9
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

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Thanks! Great article!!
Let me tell you a little history... Years ago I back to USA from Panama after do a boat delivery.
Border Patrol stop me under "racial profile".. a latin, young man with cash (not too much but owner paid me on cash the trip), few clothes.. ohh man! They're sure I come with a couples kilos if not on my luggage, sure where on my stomach..
So they play the good/bad police on me.. for 6 hours... During that time, they tried every possible trick from the book on me, including bribe... (if you give me some blanca, you can go out).
Finally they release me after give me a speech about the national security matters...
Bribe are at every single country around the world. Depend on every one of us stop this kind of situation...
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:51   #10
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

Spectacular story CS, and absolutely spot on with about the 16 million variations I have encountered while there...

I've explored every inch of Baja as an adventurous teen since I could drive in 1980... A lot has changed.... But it is very much the same to be sure...

I'm not going to argue the two sides presented on how to handle things like this... We do things various ways to achieve the same hopeful outcome..

The thread title is perfect...
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:14   #11
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

I am really enjoying the input. I know we all handle things differently. I loved garrobito's story about racial profiling.
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:23   #12
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

Yep... $100 seems to be what cures things. My daughter was in Cabo for a pre wedding brides party. They were "arrested" for being drunk in public immediately after exiting the Senor Frog's. It took a while but eventually $100 apiece cured the problem.
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Old 02-01-2015, 13:08   #13
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

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Yep... $100 seems to be what cures things. My daughter was in Cabo for a pre wedding brides party. They were "arrested" for being drunk in public immediately after exiting the Senor Frog's. It took a while but eventually $100 apiece cured the problem.
You sure they weren't carrying, or making some nuisance? Sure, it was your daughter so the second is impossible, but what actually happened? Cabo makes far too much money catering to wild drinking to scare away tourism with hinkey-dinkey shakedowns like this.

Again, take names and demand to be taken to the station. If you're innocent, that is.
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Old 02-01-2015, 13:34   #14
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

..just to finish my inputs on this matter.. there are no difference between the police who ask for a bribe and the guy who paid for it...
Both are corrupt guys tried not do the right thing..
Period.
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Old 02-01-2015, 13:41   #15
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Re: A Big Blue Burrito in Mexico

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You sure they weren't carrying, or making some nuisance? Sure, it was your daughter so the second is impossible, but what actually happened? Cabo makes far too much money catering to wild drinking to scare away tourism with hinkey-dinkey shakedowns like this.

Again, take names and demand to be taken to the station. If you're innocent, that is.
Oh, no more nuisance than 3 mildly drunk 21 year olds usually make. I guess they laughing and giggling within 1/2 block of the bar. Easy prey I would imagine... young , don't know anything etc....
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