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Mexico FAQ

2 October 2009
Dave Clingman

While driving through Guadalajara this week, we were pulled over by two motorcycle policemen.  We first passed them, but were driving far below the speed limit, and traveling only with the rest of the traffic.  Then at the next signal while we were stopped, one of the cops drove past us very slowly, looking intently into our car windows.  He then drove forward to his partner, and they talked a bit, after which the partner turned around to look at us.

As we started moving again, the two officers waved us to the side of the road.  No sirens or lights, just a wave.  And the wave was so timid that I wasn't even sure they were asking us to stop.  One officer parked his bike in front of the car, and the other parked behind the car.  Then the partner came to my window, though I was on the passenger side, and he started talking to us in Spanish.

Andrew and I had agreed ahead of time that we would follow the advice from the internet and from friends here in Guadalajara, and play dumb.  Though Andrew understands quite a bit of Spanish, he remained silent.  I then tried to understand the policeman but failed miserably.  I even had the officer write down what he was trying to ask us, so that I could look up the translation in our dictionary.  The problem was that he kept changing the way he was asking us "where are you going?"  Finally, I asked Andrew to tell me what he was asking.  I responded in my broken Spanish that we were going to the university (a few blocks away).

The other officer, meanwhile, had approached Andrew's side of the car and asked him for identification.  I pulled out our passports and started to hand them to the officer.  Andrew reminded me that we had been warned not to surrender our identifications to the officers but to only show our I.D., or even just a copy.  I goofed.  We have photocopies of all of our papers in the glove box of the car, but because we were also on our way to get our FM3's that day, our passports were handier.  Fortunately, they did not keep the passports, but handed them back right after viewing them.  Then the officers waved us on our way.

We still think the officers were going to try to ask us for a bribe, but because of the language barrier, they could not accomplish this.  We did absolutely nothing wrong while driving, and there is nothing suspicious in or about our car, other than having license plates from California.

Even when one disobeys the traffic laws here in Mexico and gets pulled over by a police officer, we have been warned not to relinquish our driver's license.  Instead, insist on going to the police station and dealing with the problem there.  Though corrupt officers are now not as common, it does still happen.  Insisting on going to the office means you'll probably get fair and just treatment.

The FM3 process nears its conclusion.  I received my FM3 this week.  As for Andrew, it turns out that the people behind the window had misinformed us regarding his next step.  They had said that Andrew had to go to the Hacienda to get his tax number and then turn in his final paperwork.  But when I picked up my FM3, I insisted he confirm this.  They told him he merely needed to turn in the paperwork.  However, we were missing one piece they wanted, a THIRD photocopy of his passport.  So, yet another trip.  Now, hopefully, his FM3 will be ready to be picked up next week.  Then we will go to the Hacienda for our tax I.D.'s.

In other news:  We're still trying to decide which puppy we want.  We'll likely select a dog from one of the rescue organizations here.  We're still going to the gym:  Andrew usually four times a week, myself only once or twice a week.  Yep, I'm a bit lazy.  We are pleased with our new church and are getting to know some very nice people.  The weather is still great here, between 75 and 80 most days and around 65 at night, with rain falling many nights but usually not during the days.  All in all, this is a great life, and we rejoice everyday in it.


Read update 24 September 2009

Read update 10 October 2009

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