The broken window
The thing about Mexico is that there are so many good things, it’s easy to overlook the bad. But this week we had a steady mix of both.
Due to the robbery, we canceled our trip to see the sea lions so we could get our broken window replaced. We went to a shop called Crista Fácil and the guy said he could replace the whole thing in two hours. When we recounted this to our friend Donna later, she said, “Hey Melissa, that’s not too bad for Mexico!”
But alas, two hours passed, then three, then four, and the poor guy was still struggling to get the window in. We had to drive to the body shop on the other side of town so they could install it.
When the body shop guys saw the van, they called the first guy an “idiota” because he hadn’t known to take the trim off first and made gestures about how fat idiota was.
It was like an Aesop’s fable. They took off the trim, put in the window and the door panel, and said, “listo!” – finished! Then Edd held up a metal piece he found on the floor; it was one of the inside window tracks which they’d forgotten to insert. They had to take the whole thing apart and do it again. “Ok, listo,” the guy said again. But the window got stuck on the way up. They had forgotten another piece. Embarrassed, they had to do it yet again. Maybe they won’t be so fast to make fun of someone else next time!
Somewhere along the way, the clowns lost the screw covers for the door handle, so some screws are showing and it looks a bit janky. After six hours of silliness, I was now annoyed. But at least we had a window.
The expired plate scheme
But our troubles continued when we were driving away. A truck of municipal police officers (blue uniform) turned on their sirens and pulled us over. I asked him what we’d done wrong. The officer said since our back plate has a tag saying “FEB”, our registration might be expired. He would need the vehicle title, insurance policy, and other documentos. In my head I could hear our old mechanic, César, saying, “La policía son bien perrrros”.
I told him that even if our plates were expired (they’re not), my Michigan registration had no implications in Mexico. I KNOW this because I called the Michigan Secretary of State before we left. Not to mention we have a Mexican vehicle import permit.
He told his bud behind him, “Haha, la muchacha sabe mucho español”. Yes, I bloody know Spanish, so stop picking on us! He checked Edd’s license, and then they said goodbye.
We called the tour company again to reserve a spot on the boat for the next morning. We had to turn this weekend around somehow. And then we drank a bottle of wine.
But in morning the tour company called to say boats weren’t allowed out because the waves were too rough. Just our luck!
We spent the day doing housework at the RV park. Edd rewired the fridge to be able to run off the correct 120 volt circuit, and I gave the cabinets a new shiny coat of polyurethane. We at least had a pleasant bike ride down the bike lanes on the boardwalk.
On Monday, even though the waves were choppy, the tour boats were finally allowed to launch, as long as they stayed inside the bay. We rode our bikes down to the pier carrying our snorkel and fins. We boarded a little lancha with seven other people, a captain and a guide. And we were off!
The tour started off great. Dolphins jumped in front of us as we went out. Then we stopped at San Rafaelito, a tiny rock islet with loads of lazing sea lions lying all over each other. They were so stinky! The captain stopped the boat and Edd was the first one in the water!
The sea lion pups were amazing. You have to do some tuck dives to go under the surface. If you do, the sea lions dive with you! Edd and I were the only ones who were doing it! Edd was constantly under the water; I don’t know how he had any breath left! The cheeky little guys came up to our faces and twisted around, or sometimes swam upside down next to us. Their playful little personalities kind of reminded us of our cats!
Then the captain took us to Playa Balandra, supposedly one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. The water and sand were gorgeous. The only problem was that many tiny white jellyfish were floating near the surface, so no one wanted to swim. But the tour guide disappeared somewhere, so we couldn’t go anywhere. Edd and I waited on the sand while everyone else stayed on the boat.
Finally the guide showed up again and we drove to another reef near Balandra where we could snorkel. We only had 10 minutes there! We went in anyway and saw a trumpet fish and others with brilliant colors.
The people on our boat were really, really nice and that made the tour enjoyable. Some of them had a GoPro and we asked them to send us video of us and the sea lions! If they do, we’ll post it. We had a great day.
The “let’s go down to the station” scheme
On Tuesday, everything was back in gear. We left the RV park and did errands. We were set to take the ferry the next day. DHL said they would forward our air suspension bags to Mazatlán (fingers crossed).
Unfortunately, the police make one final appearance in our La Paz memories.
We went into Walmart to spend our last night. A police car pulled up next to us. Two traffic policemen (white uniform) approached the van, and said we hadn’t made a very complete stop (“No respetó bien el ALTO”) at the sign while pulling into Walmart parking lot (seriously?). They asked to see Edd’s license, and we gave it to them. Then told us we had to follow them to the station in order to get it back.
I told them we had no problem accepting a fine, but we wouldn’t leave until they’d returned Edd’s license along with an official written ticket of our supposed infraction. The officer was holding his pad of blank tickets in front of him, but hadn’t written anything in it. He wasn’t wearing a badge, so I asked him his name. He said Carlos. I asked his last name. He said Hernandez. He was really holding back.
“Carlos” said we could resolve everything at the station. I said we would only pay the ticket if we could pay with credit card, and if not, we’d pay at a bank. He laughed and said we could only pay at the station, and “solo en cash“.
We had been calm and patient for fifteen minutes but now his scheme was obvious. This is the same shit they tried to pull on us in Rosario. I told “Carlos” to stop telling lies, and if he didn’t give us the f***g license, it would be them who would be in trouble. He got angry, thrust Edd’s license back at us, and left.
That makes a total of three opportunities the police have found to shake us down for some pesos, but when we were robbed, they really couldn’t be bothered. What’s in it for them, right? We did even more research about our rights and I promise to write about it soon.
We sure had an interesting time in Baja California! Good points: We didn’t have to go to jail. We saw birds, sea lions, dolphins and wonderful fish. We met funny people. We survived the heat. Our camper is still intact and about to board the ferry to Mazatlán. We’re looking forward to more adventures!