We were on the road about 8:45am this morning. We figured it was at least a 2 hour drive to Ciudad Constitution, maybe a bit more. Considering that we rarely drive any faster than 80 km/h, our average speed when you take into account the slow uphill grades is quite a bit closer to 70 km/h.
The pelicans fishing at sunrise just before leaving
We did make it into town at about 11:00am. The turn off towards Phillip and Patricia's house was at the beginning of town, but we needed a bank machine, a laudromat, and quite a few groceries...and some internet would have been nice as well. So we continued through town to where we knew there was a big grocery store.
About a kilometre from the grocery store, Ruth noticed a police van that looked like it had pulled out to follow us. We had been driving behind Steve and Glen, and had been very careful to use turn signals and go the speed limit....something VERY few local drivers ever do. As we went along the main road (at the speed limit of 25 km/h!!!) we noticed the police van getting closer and closer. He was about 3 cars behind us when we pulled into the main supermarket. He pulled up beside where we parked, and I opened the door. There were 3 police officers in the van, and the one closest to me said something in Spanish. I said I didn't speak any Spanish, and so he muttered the word "ticket" and made the action of putting a seat belt on. I had undone my seat belt in order to open the drivers door. There was no way he could have seen whether or not I ever had it on because our motohome only came with a lap belt...no shoulder belt. So I shrugged my shoulders and said I had it on the whole time while I was driving...which I had. This didn't seem to matter to them.
At this time, the third policeman came around and asked for my identification. I gave him my passport originally, but then he wanted my drivers licence. Got those for him, and the driver started writing a ticket. I tried to argue with them, but their English was about as good as my Spanish. He said that if I didn't pay the fine of $35 U.S., he would take my drivers licence, and the only way I could get it back was to go to the police station and pay the fine. I argued again, saying that I had my seat belt on and that there is a "ding, ding, ding" sound that goes off while driving if it's not on. Around this point, their tune changed a bit and he said that if I paid them $20 U.S., the whole problem would go away.
A bunch of crooked cops!
We've of course heard of the corruption of police in Mexico, and were now experiencing it first hand. They prey on the tourists because it's a safe bet they can afford the $20 or whatever they get from them. We could have argued the point further, and would have likely spent the rest of the day at the police station while waiting to explain our version of events to a superior officer. This may have called their bluff and they may have left us alone....or it may have caused us further problems. Who knows. I decided to make light of the situation, and when I heard the very blunt bribe offer, I smiled at the guy and said, "oh, okay...I understand". I went back to the motorhome and got a $20 bill, went back to the police van and said "this is for comida (food) for your lunch"...the cops understood what I was getting at...they laughed, I smiled (while biting my tongue) and they drove off. Problem solved.
Just as the police drove off, a couple approached us and asked in English if we were the people who were coming to stay with them for a few days. Too funny...a couple of weeks ago we had emailed Phillip and Patricia after reading on an RV'ers website that they have a property near Ciudad Constitution and RV'ers were welcome to stay for a night or two. So they had said we were very welcome and whenever we showed up would be fine. It was total coincidence that they saw our 2 motorhomes parked at the grocery store and wandered over to find out if we were the ones. They explained that yes, the cops are a bit crooked, but sometimes you're better of just paying the $20. Phillip speaks Spanish pretty well though, so I wondered if we may have got out of it if he had just been a few minutes earlier. Oh well...some more excitement in our day.
So we did a big grocery shop, and then headed straight to Phillip and Patricia's. They were off the main road about 17 km's. They have water for us and have allowed us to use their laundry machine and a sewer dump that they have on their property. A nice little setup they have here, with 85 fruit trees including oranges, mangoes, black pudding fruit, and papaya. We are pretty much in the centre of the Baja now, and not close to any water. It's quite a bit different because this is about the only section of the Baja that has a lot of farmland. We saw cropdusters flying and corn growing.
Sherman parked up at Phillip and Patrica's
Some of the many fruit trees they have on their property
Total Nights Sleeping in the RV... 86...
January Fuel $ 0
January Grocery $146.55
January Overnight Costs $0