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July 31, 2014
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A Mexican shakedown


After a deliciously touristy Italian meal, we ventured to a nearby casino for some gambling and carousing. I broke just about even after a few hours, walking away with most of the money I had coming in and feeling like a blackjack god.

We got pulled over seconds later. After beating around the bush with the policìa, we finally got to the route of the issue. Marc could pick up his license the next morning at the station. But that wasn’t going to work because he also had a flight in the morning. Hmmm… the policìa wondered. What were we going to do?

As he held Marc’s license in ransom, and since he was such an understanding guy, he offered to take “100 dollars.” He was trying to help us out, make it mas facil para nosotros. We pooled our money together and gave him his $100 payoff. He thanked us and handed Marc back his license.

The mood in the car was light. I joked about how it was worth it for the story; the adventure had been exciting and relatively safe all things considered. “It could have been much worse,” I said.

As if on cue, red and blue lights flashed again. Suddenly it was like some bizarre Mexican spinoff of the Twilight Zone (Zona Twilight?) and we replayed the same exact thing again.

“Habla espanol?” he said to Marc, our unlucky amigo behind the wheel. We were speeding and it was a real problema.

I immediately started chuckling. Marc did not. He furiously got out of the car and explained what had transpired a mere five minutes earlier down the road. The cop didn’t care. “Problema aqui,” he said simply.

This time we offered him 1,000 pesos, which is about 75 bucks, and he took it.

Who knew you could negotiate with a policìa over a shake-down?

We drove the last half a mile to our hotel room in absolute silence.