10 Feb, 2016

Backpacking Mexico, Part II: The Land Of A Million Facets

10 Feb, 2016

Um diesen Blogpost auf Deutsch zu lesen, klicke hier.

Mexico is a country of many facets. Like an unpredictable friend who constantly throws you for a loop with his many different character traits and little idiosyncrasies, Mexico threw me for a loop aswell. One moment I was fascinated and amazed, only to be shocked and, admittedly, a bit intimidated in the next.

 

Despite its multi-facetness or maybe because of it, Mexico won my heart over.

As I already mentioned in the first part of this Mexico-Blogseries (which you can read here) and as I’m sure you might know, Mexico has a few problems to deal with. A few of these we experienced ourselves or saw with our own eyes. I want to tell you a few of these stories from my trip right here.

 

The Corrupt Cop

I’m sorry to say it, but unfortunately in this case the clichés are pretty true. Corruption is a huge problem in Mexico. Corruption can not only be found in the legal system, but in many other parts of the system aswell. According to stories from Mexican friends, people are blackmailed, policemen are bribed like crazy (or rather the cops demand you to give them a bribe) and even during presidential elections votes are bought.

The widespread poverty allows the richest to exploit the poor for their own benefit and therefore seize power. So corrupt politicians take office and corrupt cops attain way more power than they should have. This way value of the legal system is diminished and criminals can pretty much do whatever the hell they want.

On our trip we experienced the corruptness of the police first-hand. We (2 Mexican friends, a friend from Canada and I) had rented a car for a few days to drive from Mexico City down to the Golf Coast. On the way back we were cruising around a small place called Tuxpan, when a cop pulled us over because we (allegedly) drove into a one-way street from the wrong side. In Spanish, he asked my Canadian friend, who was driving, to step out of the car. My friend from Mexico got out of the car aswell to intermediate in Spanish.

After showing the policeman his driver’s license, the cop told us that we had to pay a fine of 600 pesos. Which would have been about 35 euros. But before the man had even put pen to paper and started writing the ticket, he said: “We could also handle this another way.”

He gave my Mexican friend a bill holder like you would get in a restaurant. We put in the amount the cop had quietly told my friend to give him (which was now only 300 pesos), gave him the folder back and we hit the road again rather quickly. The whole thing seemed so self-evident, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, while I myself was completely flabbergasted.

 

In this case the corruptness of the policeman of course benefited us, because we only had to pay half of the original fine. My friend though, who is originally from Mexico City (And who is a total badass by the way, as he wished for me to mention. You’re welcome 😉 ), has experienced some real shit in this respect. One time, after (allegedly) parking illegaly a female cop had demanded a bribe from him, which he was not willing to give her. Out of respect for her, he wanted to just pay the ticket, instead of giving her the bribe. She then got pretty pissed off and started thinking up more things that he had illegally done and actually called for back-up, wanting to through my friend in jail and making a huge scene. Luckily my friend got help from a family member who’s with the police. So in the end, the cop actually had to apologize to my friend and let him go. She must have felt kind of stupid after that. 😉

 

The Attack Of The Restaurant Owners

Another moment that shocked us, was when we were in that same town, looking for a place to grab something to eat. We wanted to sit somewhere by the ocean to enjoy the last few hours at the water before heading to Mexico City. So driving along, we then found a bunch of restaurants aligned along the waterfront, which all curiously seemed to be extremely empty for being right at the ocean.

Right on arrival we saw a group of people standing in front of the parking lot of the first restaurant, who by the sight of us started running towards our car. They were waving their menus around, while shouting at us in Spanish at high-speed. Since we were really hungry, we decided to try the first place anyway and wanted to drive onto the parking lot. With this mob of people crowding around our car though we were hardly able to move forward at all. We kept telling these people to let off our car, so we could actually go to one of their restaurants. After one of the guys tried to reach into the window on the driver’s side we started getting really ticked off and drove back into the center.

 

This incident didn’t really scare us. We knew that these guys weren’t going to hurt us or anything like that. We just found this to be extremely shocking and annoying. We then asked ourselves how desperate those guys must have been to get some customers that they thought it necessary to act like that and couldn’t believe that they actually thought they could win us over that way.

 

Rex from Texas

It is well known that Mexico has a huge problem with drugs and especially the drug cartels in the country. Since about the beginning of the 90s, drug wars have cost approximately 100.000 lives. The power and influence the drug cartels have is tremendous. One of the largest problems: A lot of the times drug cartels conspire with the police and pay them off. So there are a few areas in Mexico you should avoid, no matter if you’re a tourist or from Mexico, because the danger of getting in the middle of a dispute in connection with drug wars isn’t that low.

More on traveling in Mexico in the next part though. 😉

 

During my trip I was actually only offered drugs once (my male friends on the other hand got the offer a few times) and this wasn’t even a Mexican asking me. It was only the first day of my trip, where I was in Cancun alone before meeting up with my friends in MC and I was on the way to Isla Mujeres for a day trip, because Cancun itself wasn’t too appealing. I knew roughly how I needed to get to the harbour, but in the first moment of finding my means of transport I was pretty puzzled. There weren’t any clearly identifiable bus stops, let alone a a bus schedule. Small busses were driving up to the sidewalk about every 30 seconds, doors already swung open, stopping at seemingly random spots along the way. The only indication of where the busses were headed was a cardboard sign in the windshield with the terminal stop written on it.

I must have looked a bit lost, because a guy, who had obviously seen me looking puzzled, started walking towards me- about 40 years old, long hair in a ponytail, and.. shirtless.

“Hey, you’re lookin’ kinda lost. Where you headin’ to?,” he said to me in a thick Texan accent. He seemed like a cool guy though and I told him where I needed to go. He explained to me how the bus system works and then held out his hand to introduce himself: “Hey, I’m Rex from Texas, by the way. I’ve been livin’ down here in paradise for about 15 years now.” “Cool,” I said and introduced myself aswell. After I thanked him and he told me where to stand and wait for my bus, he walked off. A minute later he came back and informed me that I could also take a cab if I wanted to. “Cool, thanks man!”

He then came to me a third time (he seemed a bit.. well, restless, you might say..) and confirmed what I was thinking. “Hey, just so ya know, I work in research, experimentin’ with some cool drugs, if you’re interested.. Here’s my website and my facebook name, look me up!”

 

There were some pretty intense and shocking moments I had in Mexico, and some really did get my heart pumping. But isn’t that one of the great things about life?

Just these two days in Cancun gave me so many amazing thing to take in. The small busses that are meant to fit about 9 people, packed with about 20 Mexicans, talking and laughing. The music that seemed to blurt out of every corner of the city. The sincere kindness and openness I was greeted with wherever I went. The first night, when I arrived in Mexico and ran right into a street fair where people were dancing, laughing and singing with their family and friends.

 

Mexico View Mountains

 

It’s those completely new and different experiences that are so memorable and that I personally just love.

 

Are there any funny, interesting or exciting things you’ve experienced in Mexico or any other new country, for that matter? Anything that totally shocked you or made you laugh like crazy? Tell me about them in the comment box 😉

 

 

 

6 Comments:

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