Friday, November 16, 2007

Car Trip 29

The officer reached into the window and discreetly, but eagerly, took the money from L’s hand. He expertly and, with what seemed to me lots of practice, palmed it almost invisibly into his pocket. I hated him at that moment.

He walked away, scaring us even more. He returned after talking to the partner of his from the whole group. The one that had originally approached the window with him. (Since there were eight of them standing in the group, I think they took turns pulling over cars and extorting money from them!) He announced that we should now follow them and they would escort us out of town to the road that led to Pachuca. We gasped. Pachuca was northeast of Mexico City and we were needing to go southeast. We asked if there was another way. One that would put us closer to our route to Puebla. He sternly assured us that there was not. We again were left with no choice. Our simple little drive of 207 miles to Puebla was now going to take us hundreds of miles out of our way!

Next thing I knew, the two officers had pulled up along side of us, one driving and the other as a passenger on a huge motorcycle. Like the kind they rode on that CHIPS television show. He motioned us to follow and pulled out into the traffic. Not looking or caring if I could merge from the curb yet or not. I grit my teeth, quickly glanced in the mirror and popped that clutch! I was not going to loose sight of these two bastards who had just literally robbed us.

Since they were on a motorcycle, and in full uniform, they zigged and zagged their way around and through the traffic with no problem. I, on the other hand, was putting our lives at risk with every lane change and zag I had to do to match their zigs! I had my emergency flashers going but I doubt that anybody paid any attention to them. Mostly L stuck his head and arm out the window and waved at drivers. I think they took one look at these wild Gringos and decided to give us space. It was insane. Yes, they had agreed to lead us out, but they never agreed to do it in a sane, safe manner. Or even to pay attention if we were keeping up with them!

They were about a half a block ahead of me, still in my view, when they suddenly and without warning pulled into a gas station! I had no time to get over and pull in with them. What I could and did do was stop just outside the exit lane and wait for them. They were not there very long, certainly not long enough to get gas, when they suddenly pulled out, merrily waving to us as they passed! My hatred grew. The stress the three of us were experiencing by this point is totally indescribable. Hardly a word was being exchanged in the car. B sat silently in the back seat and L was hanging on for dear life, in between waving frantically for cars to get out of our way, as I continued to cut people off and dodge in and out of traffic. Horns were honking but I did not care. I was not going to loose sight of these creeps.

Shortly after leaving that gas station, a very strange thing happened. The chain came off their motorcycle and went careening down the road! They coasted over to the side of the road and one of them ran out into traffic to retrieve it. I pulled in behind them and we discussed this strange event while waiting. How could the chain come off their bike? This was an official law enforcement vehicle, which to us was synonymous with good upkeep and maintenance. Had the stop at the gas station, where we did not have a clear view of them, just been an opportunity for them to purposely loosen it? Our stress and paranoia was growing.

The original officer came back to the car and announced that they were now disabled and they could no longer lead us! Just as we thought! L told him that he could ride with us in our car. The other officer could fix the bike and pick him up at a pre-arranged spot. Wherever it was that they were leading us. He did not think that was a good idea. Then L told him they should wave down a taxi to lead us. He said ok to this but wanted us to pay for it! L, in an act of outrageous courage, told him no. L told him that he had enough of our money to pay for his own taxi to anywhere in Mexico he wanted to go. Maybe the guy felt guilty. (And maybe I will grow hair again!) Maybe he just admired L for standing up for us. Who knows. At any rate, he agreed to pay for his taxi and hailed one down. They loaded themselves in and off we went again.

The taxi driver was no different than the officers had been on their bike. He paid no attention to where we were at all. I was constantly downshifting, power shifting, lane changing and crawling up his bumper in an attempt to keep up. I came close to having an accident more than once. I vividly remember a car in front of me stopping without my noticing. I was looking in the mirror trying to make a lane change to get behind the taxi. B and L were thrust forward as I slammed on the brakes and literally screeched to a halt. Thank God for seat belts! I quickly recovered, with much, much swearing, and pulled out and around and located the taxi way ahead of us. Foot to the pedal, lots of reckless driving and we caught up again.

At one particular stop light, there was a car between the taxi and us. Sure enough. Out of nowhere we were suddenly surrounded by more of these brown uniformed men. Thankfully, one of the officers from the taxi stuck his head out and yelled something at them. Probably "These suckers are ours!" We were thankful he did this. They could have just left us and driven away when the light changed and our worst fears would have been realized. And we had no more cash (that they knew of) to bribe anybody.

Then suddenly, the taxi took an exit off the freeway. He used no indicator light at all. Just like in the movies, the exit was there and he dashed across a lane of traffic at the last moment to take it. I did the same, safety be damned! During all of this frantic, unsafe, fast and dangerous driving, Bob and L made not a sound. But the adrenalin was pumping! We drove, always at breakneck speed, through several residential areas and we were sure that they were trying to loose us. Good luck with that you thieving pieces of low life in uniform!

Finally and thankfully, they pulled over and the one officer leaned out the window and motioned to us. I warily pulled up beside them. He pointed ahead to a sign that said Pachuca and told us we were on our own. He also, in response to L’s question, told us that we were now well out of the no drive zone. We really did not believe him about that, but what could we do? Without a word of thanks or goodbye to them, I pulled away and got on the ramp of the road leading to Pachuca. To this day I marvel that I was able to drive like I did and to keep up with them. I doubt that I could ever do it again. I think I was driving on pure adrenalin and a hatred fueled power rush.

My scariest moment in Mexico up to this point was having had to drive the Jeep through the forest fire that engulfed the highway in Tabasco while driving down here with Jaimie. That experience of being surrounded by a wall of fire palled in comparison to this. This experience totally took away any thoughts I may have ever had of wanting to visit Mexico City proper. Now I have my own horror story to add to those read about and heard about from others about paying a bribe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thank God you made it out safely in spite of that horrible scare! be proud of yourself wayne, you could be a stunt car driver ;-)

have a great weekend!