Head Home Previous Next Last

Relumbra Blanco, Travels in Mexico Part 2

Mark Heckey is a retired city planner with a passion for writing.

Editor's note: This is the second of a series of Mark Heckey's memoirs.

The visit with Doug's in-laws at an ex-pat mobile home park near Rosarita Beach set us up for a launch into Baja. We were rested and ready to explore the desert peninsula.

Mexico's Highway 1 carves a route between golden brown hills and tall chaparral. The highway starts on the westerly coast and about halfway to La Paz, it shifts across to the eastern coast with the beach towns along the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California. Small villages adjoin the highway — spread about 50 miles apart

On the evening of our second night out, we encountered a horse standing in the middle of the highway. We managed to brake and move around it. We realized we were in an unfamiliar environment, one where many things taken for granted would no longer be true. The rules of Baja were unlike Southern California. We were dealing with a vastly different land, language and culture.

Late in the night, we approached a small village which had buildings on both sides of Highway 1. We slowed to about twenty-five miles per hour and followed the road as it narrowed into a lane lined by stores and restaurants. We were tired and strained to read the road signs in Spanish.

Doug had taken three years of Spanish in high school and had a sense of our direction. We heard a low siren behind us and realized a police vehicle was pulling us over. Two local police officers approached us.

"What is wrong officer? Why are you stopping me?" I tried to look as respectful as possible.

"Señor, you ran the stop sign," said one of the police officers.

I looked behind me at the intersection. I could not see a sign of any kind in the sidewalk or on the light pole. "What stop sign? I don't see a stop sign."

"The sign is painted on the store wall. Alto. You must stop. This is a problem." The officer spoke with a thick accent but had more English than I had Spanish.

"You must pay a fee. You can pay the ticket now, with us." The second officer informed us of an expedited method for dealing with traffic tickets.

I looked at Doug. He raised his eyebrows. We couldn't believe we needed to pay him right now. We were flabbergasted.

"How much is the ticket?" I asked.

"Fifty American dollars." The first officer replied.

"We don't have fifty dollars. We have ten." Doug interjected into the conversation. He started to barter.

The officers moved away from the car and began to speak in Spanish. "Señors, we must talk to ourEl Capitan. We will bring him."

We sat quietly for about fifteen minutes. A man in plain clothes pulled up in an unmarked car. He walked over and looked at us. He flashed a light into our back seat, illuminating a car filled with an ice chest, slipping bags, and food wrappers. He looked our driver's license and shook his head.

He began to speak Spanish to the police officers. We listened and finally heard him say, "No denero. Let them go." The disappointed police strolled back to their vehicles. El Capitan waived us towards the highway. "Adios, amigos," he smiled. We returned to our late-night search for the next beach campsite.

"That was close Norsk. We could have spent the night in jail." Doug sighed with relief.

"Do you think they get all the tourists? I guess it's a good thing we look like bums." I turned on the radio and tuned in a station with a peppy Mexican polka. A good song for a couple of lucky vagabonds.

~ Mark Heckey




Last page
Next page
Previous page
Home page