And to be perfectly honest, I forgot on Monday (it’s Monday, can you really blame me?); Tuesday and Wednesday I was traveling to Laredo, Texas to renew our car permit to have it here in Mexico. And to be honest, we’d just be on our way home today if it wasn’t for the fact NM MVD claims our registration is suspended. Yes, we paid for the new year, yes the tag is sitting with our other mail (in NM which we couldn’t travel to this time). We were worried that we weren’t going to be able to take the car across the boarder as we do not have the new tag on the plate which is why we left Wednesday morning. If there were going to be any problems, we were going to have the WORK week to fix them and get back home.
Thankfully when asked about the tags we told them we renewed them online (not a lie) the night before (yep, shhh) so they hadn’t come in the mail yet and they said that was fine. PHEW!
But then the friendly police in between the boarder and Mexico City decided to pull us over. Just to check our vehicle permit as we hadn’t had time to scrap the remainder of the old one off the windshield where it sat (just under the rear view mirror) and the new one is in the upper left corner (as from sitting in the driver’s seat) but because the tags are tamper proof in which when removed a bit of the tag remains on the windshield until scraped off which of course is what they were seeing. So they wanted to make sure the tag we had was in fact current and for our car. Once it was verified, they sent us on our way. Yeah, not all of the cops are corrupt in Mexico. Perhaps just the ones in Mexico City.
Ahh, Mexico City how I hate thee! And NOT just for the corruption of the police force (yep, got shaken down again while leaving Mexico City–got pulled over because the last digit of our plate was not allowed — This is what is know as Hoy No Circula (the page is in Spanish so either check it out in Chrome, FireFox with the Google Translate App add on or Edge with the Microsoft Translation app add on) which legend states was created because of the smog that Mexico City has created, but many verified reports have stated that conditions have not improved at all since this was created so now it is believed that it is just a law that the corrupt police use to shake down foreigners for money as there have been additions added to the law you see on that page that are not anywhere to be found unless you’re a cop with a little booklet. If you click on Tuesday (and for those of you who don’t know Spanish, Mar is Tue, Enero is January) the 10th you will see that for foreign plates those ending in 7 and 8 are not allowed in the city between 5 and 10 pm. Our plate ends in a 6. We also went through the city close to 5 am. We should have been fine if it wasn’t for those added hidden rules. And no, getting the special permissions apparently does not help. You’re still going to be pulled over, you’re still going to be told you can’t drive this vehicle through the city no matter what the plate is or what the time is and after so many minutes (this tends to vary depending on how much patience an officer has with non Spanish speaking stupid Americans) they are going to ask you for money. Usually about $9,000 peso. Which is around $400 USD give or take depending on how the peso is doing against the dollar (only good thing about orange butthole being elected is the fact the dollar is much stronger against the peso. That is of course if you’re an American living or visiting Mexico, not for the people who live here who only have peso).
Rule of thumb: When traveling through Mexico City as a foreigner in a foreign car, hide most of your money somewhere on your person that they are unlikely to search if it came to that. Guys, tuck it into your underwear; gals that bra has another purpose now. Also hide any valuables or things that look valuable that you want to keep. Engagement rings (B-bank it [b-bank = boob bank]), watches, jewelry, you get the picture. Whenever possible hide them on your person as if your car gets search they still won’t find them. If they body search you in those places that normally police won’t go, you’ve got bigger problems!
Leave just enough money on you that won’t kill you to “loose”. Tell them that any credit cards you have cannot be used at ATMs to withdraw money. Show them some of what you do have and apologetically tell them it’s all you have left. When they press for more money (and they fucking will, offering instead maybe $6,000 peso) search your pockets for the rest of your little stash and offer it to them. After a bit of time, and talk of taking you to the police station (since most of the higher ups in the police force get a percentage of what the cops shake down, you’re not going to find any help there) and depending on how well you act stupid, they’ll finally give up and take what you offer and let you go. This has happened to us both times we were leaving Mexico City to return to the US. Never the opposite direction, that’s a whole other fucking headache. This last time we were almost clear of Mexico City and we were told that the ban against our plate started at 5 am that morning (part of those new addition rules) and it was 5:01 am. Another minute or two we would have been clear.
THERE IS NO WAY AROUND MEXICO CITY. YOU MUST GO THROUGH MEXICO CITY TO GET TO OTHER PARTS OF MEXICO UNLESS YOU GO ROUTES THAT AREN’T THAT SAFE OR WELL TRAVELED.
The headache that is Mexico City going south is that it is so very VERY easy to get lost. We went through around 11 pm last night, thankfully there was light traffic (this place is like the 405 when it comes to rush hour), BUT they block off roads with no warning, no signs to help you reroute yourself around the closure and the signage in general is horrendous; especially if you do not know much Spanish. Last night we kept being diverted off our route onto regular roads. This has nothing to do with the protests by the way, we didn’t run into any of those on either day. The only way we knew the route was blocked was because they put up Jersey walls across the road. Locals that were on the road with us didn’t know of the blockade as they were slamming on the brakes or suddenly slowing down and making their way to the far right lane.
If we had been completely alone on the road we would have been a bit screwed. We do have the Waze application (much like Google Maps but works much better in Mexico) but even it didn’t know of the barriers and was trying it’s best to find where we went and rerouting us as quick as possible bless it’s little electronic heart. And we also have a mexican based cell phone (well, the phone its self is a Galaxy Note 3 from Verizon, but the service is now AT&T) so we had a good service which as you know does help.
The upper level isn’t as accessible going south as it is going north. You also have to have a PASE Tu Tag or IAVE tag in order to access the upper level to begin with. This last trip is the first time we have had one and OMD GET ONE IF YOU ARE GOING TO TRAVEL IN MEXICO!! Specially since the best routes to take are the Cuota routes which are toll routes. And no, you do not loose the beauty that is Mexico by taking the toll routes as they tend to run next to the free routes but are better taken care of–less potholes, smoother roads. But for some reason when we finally did find a way up, the tag didn’t work–I think we went by the reader too fast but meh.
That is what I was doing the last couple of days, Monday was just a whoops day. I think.
I found a fun little app called JARVIS (think Iron Man) during the trip that I’ve been playing with. Been in a Iron Man/Avengers mood as of late. Also I am allergic to something in the house and I know not what but it affects my left hand ring finger. At first I thought it was my rings, but I cleaned them and kept them off and it hadn’t gotten better. I started applying Benadryl cream to the area and it’s cleared up a lot. Wednesday morning I had no problems with the finger being itchy or red. I just found myself absent-mindlessly scratching it. NO idea what causes it, why it’s just that finger (although it did affect the middle and ring fingers of my right hand but much less so) and so I am wondering if something is biting it at night.
Until next time, always be careful when you’re traveling. Whether to work, the store or on vacation. And remember that you do not always hear the truth when it comes to traveling in certain areas; we were told we were crazy to move to Mexico as it is riddled with violence and we were sure to be injured or dead within a month and to never EVER drive any road at night. It’s been a year and we’re still alive and uninjured. We drove the Cuota roads last night and had no problems as they are well traveled roads.