Runin with the policia
Jen still feeling not so great, so I decide to drive into bucerias to print out some art ideas. I should have known that the first time I go anywhere without the benefit of ms positivity that things would unravel... I get maybe 5minutes down the road before a police truck passes me, takes one look at the garbage bag taped to our passenger window and does a quick u-turn to pull in behind me and start chirping the siren. I keep driving for a while as the policias almost always have thier lights on here and I thought maybe he would get bored and move on. no such luck.
The ensuing conversation was equal parts annoying, frustrating and simply comical. "Look", he tells me, "you cannot drive with this in Mexico. It's a ticket". But I'm on my way to get it repaired because there is no window repair shop in punta mita." Of course this logic carried no weight with him. But we ping pong back and forth regardless. Can't drive til it's fixed, can't get it fixed without driving...this is a fruitless debate.
He demands my license and (as we've read is normal) suggests I have to follow him back to the officina. This is when I realize I've forgotten my wallet, but start pulling out our binder-o-copies to give him some form of ID. I slowly flip through the 100s of docs (again hoping he would get bored) before pulling out a copy. "No good, you must have actual license". I explain that it's likely buried in the bus, but Jen is responsible for this type of organization and it will take me some time to find. "Second ticket". Furthermore, without the ability to hold my license he will have to take one of our plates while I follow him back to the office. This circuitous chatter continues for half an hour and he's clearly getting shifty and frustrated.
He goes back to the truck and talks to his boss before returning with the good news that they are in a hurry to get to sayulita and don't have time to drive me to the officina in mezcalito. Now I can relax, as there clearly is no real infraction and it's simply about the money. He tells me if I pay here it's only a small fee of 400pesos. I explain that that's one week of living expenses for my family, not small to me and suggest that I follow them to the officina. He decides after another conversation with his boss that they will forgive the lack of ID and only charge me for the window infraction, 200pesos. I tell him "con mucho respete" that the officials in Tijuana told us both that a copy of our ID was fine and that we should never pay a ticket roadside, only at the oficina. This, of course isn't actually true... but better than me simply accusing him of wanting a bribe.
More talking with the boss and more explanation of how severe my infractions are, but the conversation now shifts to him giving me a grace period of one day to repair the window. I explain this isn't likely possible (unless he can recommend a repair shop) and we now start haggling for how many days he will allow before hunting us down for a more severe ticket. I don't want this guy following us around for a week so I tell him, that we will try to get in done within our 6 agreed upon days, and if that doesn't happen I will get a note from the repairman (this feels like getting a note from your parents telling your teacher that you were sick and at the doctor) and he gruffly agrees and pulls away. At least 45 minutes later and I'm on my way.
I stop at a window repair shop with a bit more incentive to repair our window than when I left the house. The guy can't cut safety glass but thinks in 8 days or so he can have a window back to me based upon measurements. As always, he seems 100% confident that it can be done correctly but I'm hoping to cut out the middle man and find someone in Vallarta that can actually trace and cut the window rather than working from verbal description/dimensions.
Sadly, as I pull into town I almost slam into a car at the bottom of the hill as I have zero brakes. Check the fluid and it's completely dry. A look at the rear wheel shows where it all went and it's clear my priorities for the day just shifted. I go place to place looking for brake fluid and someone with the giant socket needed to get into the brakes. I finally find a car rental shop and jack the bus up next door knowing that i can borrow tools as needed. They eventually offer to call their brake guy and i head over. One look inside shows us the problem quickly. The spreader bar from the handbrake that presses out against the drum plates has dislodged and is moving around freely inside the drum. We are lucky this didn't do more damage and extremely lucky that we kept brake pressure while coming down the mountains on our trip home. Less luck in my choice shop- he clearly doesn't have the spreader bar and also doesn't have a rear cylinder to match the bus.
I have him plug the brake line so that we at least temporarily get pressure to the other 3 and head back towards home. My 20 minute errand took almost 7 sweaty hours and my to-do list actually grew. Now we have to find a way to fix the brakes without driving around with a broken window...all while being carefully watched by the long arm of the law.
Lesson for the day- always plan 20x longer than you need for a quick errand- and never leave home without a camera...I didn't even get a chance to ask the policia for a group shot. Instead of action shots or excited shots of brakes you get photos of some of the art projects i have underway...