Tag Archives: Driving hazards in Mexico

Road Worthy At Last

With my updated license in hand along with the original title with a new line ceeding the rights to the motorcycle in question to me with my correct legal name, we headed to the Oficina Recaudadora. We didn’t have to wait too long before we were in front of the same girl who said nothing could be done with our previous stack of documentation the last time.

There was some shuffling of papers while I gave her my updated license, the old license plate, the CFE bill, the old permission to circulate card, and the motorcycle title. Fortunately, this girl wasn’t offended when I waved papers triumphantly as I found them. She had me write “CANCELADO” over the incorrect endorsement on the back of the title and everything was hunkey dory.

She entered some information and let me know that the motorcycle owed $631 pesos from prior years that I would have to pay (la baja). Then there was the current value of the motorcycle which would determine how much I would have to pay to get a new permission to circulate card (la alta). She had to request that information from the powers that be, I’m assuming in Guanajuato, so while we waited for that response, she did the rest of the paperwork. 

I watched as she pulled up the address on the CFE bill on Google maps. She asked me to confirm the address. Yes, it was my sister-in-law’s house. Since the picture was taken in 2015, you can clearly see the two meters that caused the issue with the #1A and #1 problem. Currently, there is only one electric meter, the second one having been removed some time ago.

Anyway, she printed out the picture from Google maps to include in my file and told us to take a seat. We waited awhile. Finally, she called me back up and said she had the response about the value of the motorcycle. She asked whether I was going to pay with a debit card or cash. Since my debit card is from a US bank and gets flagged everytime I use it for a transaction besides an ATM withdrawal in Mexico, cash it would be.

She gave us a paper to take down the block to where the Italika motorcycles were sold. There’s a Banco Azteca desk there. So we went and paid $1,131 pesos for la baja and la alta and came back.  After another wait, the girl gave me my new license plate and new permission to circulate card. My moto is road worthy at last! Yippee!

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License Address Change

Since CFE made that momentous change from #1A to #1, and the most recent bill had the number without the letter, my newly renewed motorcycle driver’s license had to be changed to match. 

So we went back to the Oficina Reginal de Movilidad de Moroleon and talked to the only guy working that morning. He asked for a copy of the new CFE receipt and that was it. We went around the block for the copy and came back. By that time, the sole employee was nearly overrun with people and we had a bit of a wait.

Finally, he called me over and gave me the paper to go and pay for the new license. We headed to Farmacias Guadalajara and paid $196 pesos for a change of address transaction. Then we waited some more.

Eventually, it was my turn. Reinforcements had arrived and a lady was manning the license issuing computer. When I approached the desk, she wanted to see my IFE. I said I didn’t have an IFE. She said she wanted my migratory documentation then. OK. I pulled out my permanent residency card. She said she needed a copy of it. 

I tried twice to explain that I was here for a license address change, but she wouldn’t even let me finish my sentences. Remembering that I had my folder with all my medical papers with me, I started going through those, certain I had a copy of my permanent residency card in there. A few seconds later I was waving the copy around in triumphant. 

Apparently the lady behind the desk didn’t share in my triumph and all that paper shuffling offended her. She said that there was no reason for me to be angry with her, scolding me as if I were a misbehaving child. I looked at my husband in confusion as she continued on her tirade about how I needed to be in the country legally and blah blah. My husband said that I wasn’t irritated. I repeated that I wasn’t irritated only I didn’t understand why I needed to show this documentation when I was just getting the address changed. I renewed my license less than a month ago.

So she looked at my application. She called the other guy over. He patted her shoulder and said he forgot to tell her it was a change of address request. Then, she asked me if I was changing the address from #1A to #1. I said yes. She asked again, like she couldn’t believe it. Yes, that was the address change. I didn’t elaborate. I didn’t want to rile her up anymore.

After doing some typing and fiddling on the computer, she turned to my husband and asked if he was with me. He was. She gave him my previous license and told him to go and make a copy of it so she could put it in the file. So he did. I waited.

When he came back, she didn’t seem inclined to take the paper from my hand. So the other guy came from the other end of the office, took the copy and placed it with my pile of documents at her desk. Eventually, she came to the counter with my new license which I took, thanked her, and left. Whew!

Next stop, back to the Oficina Recaudadora for another attempt at registering my moto.

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Just another weekend adventure

It's a good idea to keep one of these in your wallet when driving in Mexico.

It’s a good idea to keep one of these in your wallet when driving in Mexico.

Saturday started out rainy, which never bodes well. The amount of rain that falls is proportionately related to the number of classes I have.(See Failing at your own business–Saturday classes) Sure enough, I had only half my classes show. Well, I put my time to good use on other projects for the school until the rain let up and my son and I raced home on the moto before the next storm hit.

My husband arrived shortly thereafter for lunch. As it was clouding up again, he thought it best to take one of the vehicles back for his afternoon shift at the viniteria (liquor store) instead of his moto. Butch, the truck, had a slow leak in the back tire. He loaded the tire into Myrtle (See Placando Myrtle) to have it repaired in town before his shift. Then Myrtle, the VW bug, wouldn’t start. So he and I pushed her out of the garage, only to discover the back tire was flat. There was nothing to be done but put some air into the tire with the bicycle pump. That finished, Myrtle still wouldn’t start. We gave her a running push down the hill and nothing. My husband opted to take the battery out of Butch and connect it up, hoping that Myrtle’s battery would charge with the drive. We think maybe there’s a loose wire someplace but didn’t have time to run a full diagnostic during lunch break.

Joey posing for the camera!

Joey posing for the camera!

The rest of the afternoon passed quietly enough, except for an incident with Joey. (See Joey) Joey, as the biggest male in our animal kingdom, fully believes he is the head mucky-muck around here. Joey’s dad lives across the way in my brother-in-law’s B partially finished house but is seldom out and about. Joey’s dad is a full-fledged, ornery stallion. His bad-tempered self happened to be tied out near our house for an afternoon grazing session. Not thinking much about it, my son took out Shadow and Joey for their dinner grazing. B hollered over and told my son to take them back in until he got his horse back in his stall. Shadow obediently trotted back inside. Joey didn’t. He sniffed the air, snorted and was off, rearing and neighing. Of course, Joey’s dad didn’t take kindly to the upstart challenger. There was a lot of horse screaming, bucking and running about for the next 10 minutes or so. Joey’s dad was tied, so Joey felt brave enough to get right up next to him and throw some shadow kicks. My son and B had the lasso out and were trying to catch Joey before Joey’s dad broke his rope and caused some real damage. Throughout it all, Shadow was carrying on in the stall, eyes rolling in her head. All of a sudden, Joey gave up the fight. He ran right through the neighbor’s corn field and back to his stall. Joey’s dad snorted and huffed, then went back to his dinner. Of course, we waited until the coast was clear before taking our two horses out again.

While my son was out with the goats and horses, I cooked dinner. I wasn’t expecting my husband until about 11 pm but I didn’t want to be cooking at that hour, so I made his favorite cacapapa (fried potatoes, garlic, onion, and tomato) so I could just heat it when he got home. Well, 11 pm came and went. Midnight came and went. By 12:30 am I was starting to get worried. I tried calling his cell phone, but he didn’t answer. I dozed a bit, woke up to find that he still wasn’t home, and called his phone again. The next morning, he still wasn’t home. I called his phone at least 30 times during the course of the day.

We checked with my father-in-law, who went to town on his bicycle to see if he could find out anything. We drove around between torrential rain showers, checking his regular route and hang out places and found no trace of him or Myrtle. By mid-afternoon, we were pretty sure he was dead in a ditch somewhere. I started worrying about how to get the truck out of the garage for the wake since the back tire was in the back seat of Myrtle. (See Mass and burial Mexican style) My son and I talked about which animals to sell to cover the funeral expenses. Joey, after his little stunt, was at the top of the list. Then I started to worry that nobody would inform us of his death. None of his documentation in his wallet has La Yacata since the community doesn’t have any street names. Neither is Myrtle registered at our home address, for the same reason. (See Getting Legal–License to Drive)

My father-in-law came by to say that none of my husband’s buddies had seen him since yesterday. He also told us that my husband’s nephew L, who had only been out of jail for a few weeks (See More thoughts on Safety and Security) had been in a serious moto accident on Saturday and was in the hospital. The passenger was in a coma. Due to the nature of the laws here in Mexico, should the passenger die, L will be charged with homicide (See And Justice for all?) Since he had been to the hospital, he was able to confirm that my husband had not been taken there. He suggested we contact the police. I told him that if he had been arrested, surely he would have been allowed to call to let us know where he was. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one phone call rule here in Mexico, but I didn’t know that at the time.

I sent messages to my sisters-in-law T and P. T hadn’t seen him. P didn’t answer. A little while later, T called to say that a muchacho (young man) had just been to see her to tell her that my husband was in the jail in Uriangato, the neighboring town. I didn’t even know Uriangato had a jail. T didn’t know where the jail was, nor had transportation to go and get him out. B, who is currently living with his sister T, knew where the jail was and had transportation but wasn’t interested in doing anything about getting his brother out of jail. My son and I went up the hill when the rain let up to see what my father-in-law had to say. He’s always full of good advice. He didn’t know where the jail was either, but his son C, who was visiting, did. I couldn’t follow his directions, but understood it was just minutes from where P had moved to recently. So I called P. From the noise in the background, it seemed like she was at the hospital. She sent her brother M and her sister L on the moto to check the jail and called me back. Yes, my husband was there (which I already knew) and that the fine was 200 pesos, which nobody was willing to pay. In any case, he could only be held 24 hours and as he had already been there more than half, he’d be released soon. I had the money to get him out, but I still had no idea where the jail was and no one was willing to take me.

About an hour later, my husband himself called me. He said that he had just been released from jail and was walking home. I told him to take a taxi home. He said he didn’t have any money. I told him that I would pay the taxi when it arrived. So 30 minutes later, he was home. The taxi ride was $70 pesos.

Here’s what happened. My husband got off work at about 11 pm. Myrtle’s tire was low again, so he started towards the gas station a few blocks away to put air in it. The car stopped. The battery was dead again. It wouldn’t start, so he tried pushing it. As he was doing that, a police car came up and asked what he was doing. They checked the car out, saw the truck battery in the back seat, arrested him and had the car towed to the police station. Apparently, someone had reported a truck battery stolen or so they said. Sounds like the time my husband was arrested when getting a load of water because someone reported a stereo stolen in Ojo de Aqua en Media (See Christmas in Mexico–La Aguinaldo)

While waiting for the judge to hear his case, he was put in the holding cell with 4 other hardened criminals. Three of the four were from Cuitzeo and had been arrested for changing their clothes. Yep, you read that right. Most of the manual labor workforce and domestic servants in Moroleon are from Cuitzeo, a small town just across the Michoacan border. They have the curious custom of changing clothes. They take the bus to Moroleon, walk to their job sites from the bus terminal, change their regular clothes to work clothes, work their shift and at the conclusion of their shift, change back into their regular clothes to take the bus back to Cuitzeo. That’s what these three men had been doing. It seems the walls of their job site weren’t finished yet, so their changing could be seen from the street. They were seen, arrested, and charged them with indecent exposure.

The fourth delinquent was the young man who runs the papeleria (stationary store). He had been arrested because his music was too loud. You know those paper store types, always causing a ruckus. Once he paid bail, he stopped by T’s house to let her know where my husband was.

Meanwhile, one of the three from Cuitzeo paid my husband’s bail of $341 pesos, a bit more than the 200 quoted to M and L. He told my husband to pay it forward. When he went for the return of his personal items, the $400 pesos formerly in my husband’s wallet was nowhere to be found. So the judge gave him 10 pesos to take the bus back to Moroleon. Unfortunately, by now, it was late Sunday afternoon and the buses weren’t running anymore. Thus the $70 pesos taxi ride.

On Monday morning, my husband took the car title and my identification, because Myrtle is registered in my name, back to the police station to get the car. In order to regain possession of the car, he had to pay the police grua (towtruck). That bill was $850 pesos. He borrowed a battery from el plomero neighbor and brought Myrtle home. Since the money was gone, there is the very real concern about his debit card. On Tuesday, he went to the bank to see what could be done since his card number has been stolen once already. That time we did not have to pay for the resulting mystery shopping spree because we had informed the bank and changed the card prior to the date the charges were made. So far, no strange charges have been credited to our account.

I have to say that I am mighty impressed with the local police force. They certainly know how to clean the riff-raff off the street and keep its citizens safe. I mean, just last month alone….the mother of three of my students was gunned down on her way to the gym at 9 am….oh wait, no one was arrested. And just after that, the father of two other students was stabbed and his taxi stolen…but no, no one was arrested in that case either. And before that, the father of another student was kidnapped, his dismembered body returned to his family even after the ransom was paid…yet again, no one was arrested. However, committing the heinous crime of having two batteries in your vehicle or changing out of your work clothes or playing your music just a bit too loud, well, the police all over that. Thank God!

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