I was all set to write about my lesson today on making Chiles en Nogada (the national dish of Mexico) however, it’s almost midnight, I’m somewhat tipsy, and the tequila in my system is the only thing that’s calming my anger right now.
Today, I ventured into the City of Puebla with two other travelers. We had a great day of sightseeing and shopping at the markets. We hired a personal driver to stay with us wherever we went. When we decided we had enough, we asked him to take us back to Tlaxcala. Just before we entered the ramp for the highway, we were greeted with a siren, flashing lights and instructions to pull over.
Our taxi driver immediately left the car and presented his license to the officer. A verbal exchange took place, and the officer then went into his car and took out pliers, screwdrivers and a hammer. Our driver continued to beg and plead with him. Then the officer got back into his car and stayed there. At this point our driver came to us and said: “Dinero….. CASH.”
Apparently, the officer wanted $400 for us to be let go. Luckily, none of us scare easily. Instead of paying him, I whipped out my mobile phone and took a picture of the cop, his car and his license plate. My buddy opened his wallet and handed over 200 pesos, which is just under $20 bucks. “No more,” my friend sternly said, and the driver took the cash and handed it to the officer.
The officer then got mad, got in his car, sped around our car and practically hit us from behind. The officer got out of the car and started to rip the license plate off of the taxi. Our driver then pulled out his wallet and paid him more cash. The cop quickly sped away.
While we were on the road, I showed our driver the photo I took of the cop. “Please, senorita,” he said to me, “do not make trouble for me.” He explained that if I reported the cop to the authorities, he would have problems every time he went into Puebla. He said that this is the way things are in Mexico, and that really, we should just forget about it.
Well, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I decided that our driver needed to learn English. For the rest of the ride, he learned the words: Motherf*$cker, bull-$hit, @sshole and the phrase “don’t F*)(k with me!” And when we reached our destination, we tripled the fare and paid him more than enough for the shakedown money.
Because I promised our driver I would not make trouble for him, I have not filed a report. But I am left angry and saddened for someone who works so hard only to be stepped on by someone who is supposed to protect him. I am also convinced that whenever and wherever I travel, I’m not going to be afraid. I had every right to snap that picture of the cop and his car, and I’m not going to apologize for that. My buddy Ted was right in saying “no more.” Sometimes, you just have to stand your ground.
I maybe rolling over for my driver, but I’m not going to be afraid to share my story or my experience. This kind of bullying isn’t going to stop my vacation. There are more good people in this world than bad and I refuse to believe otherwise. Whoever that cop is, I wish him a lifetime of heartache and hemorroids. Tomorrow is another day.