Paola, myself and her family decided to make the most of the long weekend and get out of the city for a few days. Good old Benito Juarez, I thank him every March without fail for the holiday we’re given in his name. I’m sure there’s more to thank him for. Although law, order, justice and fairness, perhaps, aren’t amongst them. Nor I would venture to add, is there anyone deserving thanks for these most basic functions of civilization.
There we were, about to leave the State of Mexico and enter into the safer territory of Hidalgo, when a policeman pulled alongside us in his car, waving us to the side of the road for some ‘checks’.
It turns out that our car wasn’t allowed to be driven on that particular Saturday. Older card in the city have such restrictions to try and ease the pollution problem. We weren’t driving our normal Ford Focus however, but a Nissan Sentra, which Paola’s dad had told her to take instead. We hadn’t complained – cars made in the good ole US of A don’t tend to be the best built, most reliable vehicles on the planet.
So what to do? The car was to be taken and impounded, with a fine of MXN$2,500 to be paid to secure its release from car jail. Although in a developing country such as this, with police officers as poorly paid as they are, there are often alternatives. By alternatives, I do of course mean bribery. Mordida. A ‘little bite’.
What’s the going rate? Well it can depend on a number of factors, but generally 100 pesos plus. Don’t be surprised if you’re forced to pay 400 or 500 pesos though. Anyway, we secured our release from our unfortunate predicament, and went back on our way, if a little delayed. Which option did we take? Did we pay a fine, or did the policeman have his mordida? That’s for me to know and you to guess, but we did get to pass go, which is what counts.