Tag Archives: mordida

Who’s on first? in Spanglish

traffic-policeman-whistling-holding-hand-out-to-stopSo last night, my husband gets home around 10:30, a bit worse for wear and unlocks the door. Before he can even pull the motorcycle in, a police vehicle arrives and he is accosted. He wobbles in the bedroom,wakes me up and says the police are here. WTF? So I stumble around looking for my glasses and drift to the front door, pink fluffy PJs and all. There seems to be some doubt as to whether or not my husband lives here. I’m a bit confused, groggy from sleep and ask what this is all about.

The short chubby police officer has his light right in my eyes. I’m sure it’s a technique they teach at asshole school. He says “Recibimos un reporte de que una casa fue robada aquí” (We received a report that a house was stolen here) or at least that’s what my foggy brain heard. I think what he meant was “Recibimos un reporte que se meterian a una casa para robar aquí” (We received a report that someone had broken into a house in order to steal things). But since he said what he said my question was “¿Cómo robaron una casa?” (How could someone steal a house?). I had visions of a house being jacked up and carted away. No lie! But my brain dismissed that as preposterous because the houses in La Yacata are made of stone, cement, and brick–much too heavy to haul away in the back of a pickup much less my husband’s motorcycle.

The light bearing policeman amended his comment. “Se metieron a robar algunas herramientas.” (They broke in to steal some tools) Again, my imagination went into cartoon mode and I saw the big bad wolf breaking into a house to steal a hammer. He may have meant the rebar and other construction materials that many of the half-finished dwellings in La Yacata have. But that’s not what I understood.

There was still some doubt as to whether my husband lived here. As I was obviously in my pajamas, I guess they decided I was a legit resident. Who wears pajamas to steal tools at some random abandoned house? My husband whips out his driver’s license. I have no idea why he did that as his license does not have La Yacata as his residence since we have no street names. (See Getting Legal–a driver’s license) Officer Chubs took it and asked him his name. I guess he was convinced because he did no more than instruct my husband to pull his motorcycle inside.

My husband could not leave well enough alone. He wanted to know who had called in the report that there was a robbery in progress in La Yacata. Officer Chubby mumbled something about it being anonymous and hopped back in his vehicle.

Remember, my husband was still tipsy, so the moment he gets the motorcycle inside, he accuses me of having called the police. I just want to get back into bed, but he follows me. He wants to know why I called the police. I said I hadn’t, but he wasn’t convinced. I tried to use logic and asked if he had been breaking and entering, but logic doesn’t work on a drunk (in case you ever feel compelled to try it).

He says to me “¿Hablaste con la policía?” (Did you speak to the police?) and I answered yes. “¿Por qué?” (Why?) “Because you told me to come to the door and I talked to them” was my response. I think what he meant was “¿Llamaste a la policía?” (Did you call the police?) but that’s not what my oh so tired brain understood.

He is determined to get to the bottom of this, so he called 060 which is like the dispatcher number. Or at least that’s what he thinks he called. Remember, he’s a bit impaired at the moment. Some woman answers the phone and he asks who called in the report that there was a robbery in progress in La Yacata because there was a patrol car outside. He asks a couple of times and I think the woman just hung up since it wasn’t an emergency. Like she was going to give out that information anyway.

So this morning, now that I’ve gotten my beauty sleep, I think this whole incident is hilarious, especially since nothing bad happened. I believe that the patrol truck followed my husband from the main road, determining that he was drunk and hence susceptible to extortion. He put a knot in their plan by going into the house before they could do whatever it was they were planning, maybe stop him for his tail light being out or something. So the story of there being a report on a B&E was pulled out of thin air to give their presence some legitimacy. When I came to the door, they realized there would be a witness, and a gringa witness at that, so the plan to collect a little Xmas bonus had to be scrapped.

My son, who had stayed snuggly in his bed during this altercation, said he couldn’t believe what happened, especially my obvious misunderstanding of the spoken Mexican Spanish. Well, so sue me. There are just some things that I don’t get, even after 10 years, especially being awoken from a pleasant sleep to talk to police who were obviously up to no good. (See Christmas in Mexico–Aguinaldo)

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Driving Hazards–Mordidas

Bribery is called mordida (bite) as in a bite of an apple.

A bribe is often called la mordida (bite) as in a bite of an apple.

So for the past 2 months, the GTO State Police have set themselves up at the crossroads that is the main entryway, not only to La Yacata, but also La Ordeña, Las Peñas, Caricheo, and Pamaceo. These communities are very small, very poor and very targeted by the police for mordidas (bribes). The police’s constant presence prompted me to get my motorcycle driver’s license, however it isn’t an option for everyone. Many campesinos (country folk) are poor readers or illiterate so don’t even attempt to take the computerized exam. Others might not have an electric or water receipt to prove their residence because they lack these services in their homes. Furthermore, many of the IFE (voter’s registration cards) that I have seen from these little communities have nothing more than domicilio conocido (known address) listed since their home has no street name or number. So what’s a body to do?

So on to the story….

Sunday, my husband went to town for huaraches (large cheese and meat filled tortillas) as a special treat. He took my motorcycle rather than his own because I had just filled my tank and he was low on gas. Right after he left, my son and I went for a walk towards the crossroads so I could take a picture of some yellow wildflowers by the side of the road that I had spotted earlier. Just as we came out of La Yacata, my husband’s brother J passed us on his bike. He spent the day in La Yacata reportedly preparing an area to plant maize (corn) but mostly drinking.

We snapped the picture and headed back to La Yacata to wait for my husband. He was gone an unconsciously long time. We tried to call him, but he had left his phone at the house. My son got impatient and decided to head to the store on his bike for some munchies.

My husband arrived 15 minutes later with the huaraches, having been gone nearly 2 hours. Here’s what happened.

At the crossroads, the police stopped my husband on the moto and asked for his license, which he just renewed (See Getting Legal—Motorcycle license), and the tarjeta de circular (vehicle permit card) which he had taken with him, usually it’s in my purse. My moto has placas (license plate) and all the miscellaneous and sundry impuestos (taxes) paid. But that didn’t satisfy the police. They said that the card wasn’t valid, but it was. They said that the moto was stolen, which is wasn’t. They even lifted the plastic to see the VIN and check it against the card. Even though it was all good, they said that they would have to call it in. My husband wasn’t going to pay the mordida (bribe) they were fishing for, so he told them to go ahead and he’d wait. The officer got up in his face and wanted to know if my husband had a problem with him. He didn’t, but intimidation is part of this whole macho-mordida thing.

While they had him wait, he said that they stopped a car heading to Las Peñas. The car didn’t have any placas (license plates) but everything else was in order. The police told the driver that the new law is that you have 9 days to get placas (license plates) from the date of purchase or the vehicle will be impounded. Hmm, as we just purchased a new vehicle, this is good to know. (See Getting Legal—License plates) Many vehicles in the area are chocolates, which is the name for a car brought into Mexico from the United States that has overstayed its permit and not been legalized. (See Getting Legal—Legalizing a vehicle). This isn’t true in our case however.

By this time, my husband’s brother J rode past the policía on his bike. There is no law requiring license plates, nor license, nor helmet for a bike, although I believe there is a law that says you have to register your bike to prove it wasn’t stolen, but nobody does that. So J just assumed the police wouldn’t stop him. However, my detained and “uncooperative” husband waved to him as he passed. The officer turned to my husband and said that he knew that was his brother, then told my husband he was free to go.

The officers jumped into their official police vehicle and drove towards town. Since that was the direction my husband was going anyway, he followed. He arrived just in time to see them take J into custody. His crime? A suspicious backpack. Inside were 3 empty caguamas (liter size beer bottles) and 1 full one. He also carried an ax and hoe—deadly but not concealed weapons. My husband followed them to the jail and signed for custody of J, promising to deliver him safely to his house, which he did. He took him and his suspicious backpack and deadly weapons all the way to Uriangato and left him at the door with his heavily pregnant wife. Then he headed back to town and picked up the huaraches and headed home.

While my husband was retelling this story to me, my son arrived home from the store. He said he had just seen J by the store on the back of a gray moto with some heavy-set man he didn’t recognize. It seems that having 3 empty caguama bottles is a crime against nature and, therefore, he must have left his house minutes after my husband had dropped him off in search of the not-so-elusive cold one. So much for seeing him safely home.

Anyway, police presence also curtailed our driving practice that afternoon. Technically, the State Police only have jurisdiction on the main road. The road that goes to La Yacata and all the other little communities I mentioned is overseen by the transito muncipal (local traffic police) but they hardly ever come out to check on anything. We wanted to take Myrtle, our new VW bug, out for a spin on the local road, but since we didn’t have placas (license plates) yet and the State police were following bicycle riders to town, we thought better of it. So no practicing until the plates are on.

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