Out for a drive south of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 6, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist! Arrive December 8th.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Almost got ripped off

Twice, in a span of about 10 minutes!

First, it was a gas station attendant trying to rip us off.

We were leaving Hermosillo at about 8:30am yesterday morning. We were on the eastern ring road that avoids most of the city, but it's still a fairly busy industrial area.

I thought I had enough gas to get us to the border. The goal of course was to arrive at Nogales, Arizona with an empty tank so that we could then fill up with some cheap American fuel.

I'm pretty good at judging Sherman's fuel mileage. But just to be sure, I decided to stop and put in another 500 pesos ($39 CAD) worth, which is not very much in Sherman's big tank.

So I spot a Pemex that was not busy, and pulled up to the pumps.

I got out, and asked the attendant for 500 pesos worth of regular. He starts filling, and we make some small talk. The pump stopped at 500 pesos, and I showed him the 500 peso note, and handed it to him with a 5 peso tip.

As I opened the door to the motorhome, I spotted him out of the corner of my eye. He was trying to pull the old quinientos switcheroo, where he quickly switches the 500 peso note with a 50 peso note, and then claims that all I had given him was the 50!

He says "Senor, es quinientos, no cincuenta". (Sir, it's five hundred, not fifty).

This is a common Mexico gas station scam, usually pulled against tourists. And I've known about it for years. I also know people who have been taken by this scam.

But not me. I'm having no part of that nonsense.

So I laughed at him, quickly got in the motorhome, locked the door, and drove away. When I looked back, he was counting his money, and not even looking at us driving away. Too funny.

This exact same thing happened to us at a gas station just north of Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago. And I handled it exactly the same way.

Five minutes down the road, we pulled in to fill up Sherman's propane tank. I tell the guy to fill it up, and I make sure the pump is set to zero before he starts. When he was finished, I glanced at the pump and it read 47.8 litres.

He goes over to his little booth where he prints out the receipts and came back and gave me a receipt that read 499 pesos, and I thought the quantity said 60.7 litres. The printing was really fuzzy though. I had quickly done the math in my head and I knew that the bill shouldn't be more than 400. But, I wanted to double check things. So I went into the motorhome and used a calculater. Sure enough, I was right.

I went back to him, and as I walked by the pump I noticed that he had reset it to zero. Why? Because he hoped that I hadn't noticed the quantity. But I had, and I started questioning him. I asked what the price per litre was, and he told me it was 8.15, which is about standard. I went back with him to his booth, where he had a stack of receipts already made up. He comes up with one that reads 390 pesos and has the right amount on it.

He looks at me and says "is this one okay?"

Lol...too funny. I handed him 400 pesos and waited for him to dig 10 pesos out of his pocket.

No tip for him!

And then we were off, headed for the border...

More road construction. For the most part though yesterday's roads were okay.

Huge fields of grapes.

In our entire journey north from Mazatlan, this is only the second RV that we saw!

About half way to the border, there was a big military inspection point. We were pulled off to the side and inspected. One guy came on board with a flashlight and started poking about...opening drawers, and asking questions. Probaby one of the more detailed inspections we've ever had done. Took about 10 minutes, and then he said we were free to go. We shook his hand, and thanked him for their security.

Trucks on one side, cars and RV's on the other lining up for military inspection.

Scenery along the way.

More scenery.

 If you need a concrete pillar, this is the guy you want to see!

More scenery. Obviously there is a source of underground water in this area.

Arrived at the border at 1:15pm.

Uneventful border crossing, but they sure did take their time. Nobody else in the "Bus and RV" lane, and they had a chain across it when we arrived. After five minutes or so, the guy comes out and removes the chain, and waves us ahead. Handed him our passports, and he went into his booth for five minutes or so. Came out, and we had to drive further ahead through some kind of machine, but it wasn't x-rays. I asked him what it was, but he just ignored my question, and started asking his own. Pleasant enough guy though. Wanted to know about eggs, fruits, and veggies, and Ruth had all the right answers. We've done this many times before, so we knew the rules. Didn't ask about booze, or any other goods.

And then we were off into the great U.S. of A.

Ruth can realx now...she doesn't have to be on tope watch anymore!

On the I-19 heading north in Arizona.

We put some gas in before leaving Nogales. Only $40 USD worth ($52 CAD) because it's cheaper still a few miles up the road in Tucson. Paid $1.79 a gallon ($0.62 per litre CAD), which is good, but it's $1.64 a gallon up in Tucson.

Long time blog readers and fellow boondockers Grace and Steve had invited us for a visit, but their housing association doesn't allow overnight RV parking, so we wanted to search out somewhere to stay nearby. We found a corner block that had three churches on it. I searched out someone with the authority to let us overnight in their parking lot, and it took about an hour to come up with the right people to authorize it. But they were very nice, and even wrote us a note with their names on it so that we could leave it on Sherman's door in case anybody questioned why there was a motorhome parked in their lot.

Called Grace, and she came to pick us up, only about 2 miles (3.2 kms) from their house.

Had a nice afternoon and evening with them, including some delicious enchiladas.

We had met Grace and Steve last year when we were in Arizona.

Sherman, waking up this morning at 6:30am.

We're going to spend today relaxing with Grace and Steve. Then, we've got more driving to do. Have to be in Los Angeles area for Tuesday afternoon, and that's still almost 500 miles (800 kms) away!

Yesterday's drive, 344 kms (213 miles).

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29 comments:

  1. It's a shame you have people scamming you as you're ready to leave Mexico. That will leave a bad impression of the country.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is a shame that this happened as we were leaving Mexico but it won't stop of from travelling here again and hopefully it won't stop others. We except it as part of the travel experience and you just need to be on your toes and vigilant as you get your gas. Out of all our winters here this has only happened twice so it isn't a common occurrence.

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  2. Replies
    1. Topes are speed bumps, and they are all over Mexico. You need to be very careful driving there, and two sets of eyes are always better than one set, so both of us are always on the lookout for topes when driving in Mexico. Don't need to worry so much here in the U.S.

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  3. Love hearing about your adventures and while I can understand the desire to charge gringos more than Mexicans at the gas pump, it's this kind of attitude that deters me from visiting Mexico. Sad, but true, although I do believe we will give Mexico another try in the future. (Now that we are aware of the various scams, thanks to your blog.) So glad you explained what topes are...I had no idea! Enjoy the next phase of your trip in California with Ruth's cousin...looking forward to your future blogs as always. :)

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    1. Dianne, this happens but it isn't a regular occurrence, you just need to aware of these scams when you go to the pump and be very watchful. In our 7 or 8 winters of traveling in Mexico this switcheroo tactic has only been pulled on us twice and both times it failed because we were paying attention. I won't let something like this stop me from travelling to this beautiful country.

      We will enjoy our time exploring the southern part of California with my cousin and her husband and enjoying a different part of the USA for us.

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  4. Kevin,you should also mention that most topes are in the shade and shadows,because they were built in the cool of the shade,and a lot of times can't be seen unti last second.

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    Replies
    1. We don't need to mention it now because you just did! ;-) But, yes those are the hardest ones to see.

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  5. Thanks for those tips on the scams. If we ever drive in MX, we will be aware of them. Safe travels.

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    Replies
    1. Hope you will never have to experience them if you come here but it is always good to know about them ahead of time so that you can be ready for them.

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  6. I guess we got Lucky the 3 months in Mexico, no problemo.
    But we did hit one tope that we both missed, and wow it sure threw us for a loop.
    Enjoy your touring in the US.

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    Replies
    1. I wouldn't call that lucky, as it isn't a common occurrence. Going 7 or 8 winter and NOT having one, now that would be lucky! Still we are very happy that you never had to experience this scam.

      We have missed a tope before and it wasn't pretty, not fun for sure. A couple of other times we have almost hit one but managed to avoid them at the last minute.

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  7. We get this type of gas scam often, especially in touristy areas. Once my husband told the guy 500 pesos, then went to the bathroom. I was watching from inside the car, and the man shut the pump off at 300 pesos.....I got out of the car SO FAST and told him to keep pumping to 500! He did so, looking sheepish....
    You just have to keep an eye on these guys is all.

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    Replies
    1. Good thing you were watching but this is exactly the reason why you should always be right there beside them as they pump the gas.

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  8. Kevin, do you think the large military checkpoint outside Nogales was the normal one, or is there extra security this week for Semana Santa?
    This is why we like Eagle Pass, very easy crossing with no hassles, not very busy at all.

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    Replies
    1. No, it is the normal one as it is set up in a pretty permanent location by the looks of things.

      We have never crossed at Eagle Pass but may try that crossing some other time. Going through the military checkpoint didn't bother us a bit and it really didn't take much time either.

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  9. Where is Eagle Pass? Also, do you know where we stop for the car tag return?

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    Replies
    1. We haven't been that way so not sure. I am sure if you google it, you will find it and the spot where you would return your car permit.

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    2. Jerry, Eagle Pass is west of Laredo, the Mexican town is called Piedras Negras. The inner Aduana is at KM 50 in a little dot on the map called Allende. It's so small it is easy to miss. There is an OXXO store near it, which helps us to find the entrance to the parking lot. There is a little booth for the car sticker, and a larger building with Banjercito inside for tourist visas.

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    3. Forgot to mention, this is Hwy 57, north of Monclova, which is where we spend the night before heading to the border going north.

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    4. Thank you for answering Jerry's question Cindi and Lowell.

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  10. Next time you get fuel and the next time you get propane take a picture of the pump ( before and after its pumped ) with your camera,,, and if you can get the Bandito in that picture as well it's a little harder to cheat senior
    Great folks and great company Priceless

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you could do that but personally we think that would just be rude, especially to an attendant that is honest and most of them are! Now it might make more sense for me to take a picture from inside the motorhome of the final price/amount on the pump, just in case, it won't be so obvious that way.

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  11. Recent return from Mexico... Boondocking at SKP Park Casa Grande, $5/night. Easter potluck at 2 p.m. The only Lazy Daze.

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    Replies
    1. We are not SKP members but thanks anyway.

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  12. Welcome to the good ol' US of A.

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    1. Thank you very much, we will enjoy our time here!

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  13. I'm so glad you post this kind of information. It's good to know to stay on our toes.

    We enjoyed your visit so much! So glad we get to stay in touch through your blog and FB. Safe travels!

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    Replies
    1. That's always our intent when we post something like this. :-)

      We enjoyed the visit just as much, Grace and Steve. Thank you for everything, we had such a great time with you both and Gretchen.

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