Returning to the US: Leaving Todos Santos

We finally rolled through the gate leaving the house we rented in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur at about 1:30 pm local time on Friday, January 15, 2021. The check engine light in my Jeep had recently lit up again and pretty much every light on the dash of the boyfriend’s truck had been on since forever.

A few miles south of Ciudad Constitución, traffic came to a complete stop. Apparently, the protests over workers not being paid and general corruption were still closing the highway for hours at a time. After a couple minutes, some random guy rolled up and said he could lead us on a detour around the barricades. We would have to go back about half a mile and then on some dirt roads that we were assured our vehicles could manage. Since this was supposed to be an adventure, we were totally game but I should note that Americans and Mexicans have vastly different ideas about what constitutes a viable roadway. I had already shared my location with my mom and I’m not even a little bit ashamed to admit I sent her a message to let her know what was happening in the event our charred bodies were found without identification.

As we turned onto a dusty trail with very deep sand, I considered the weirdness I had recently experienced with my four-wheel drive and just really hoped I wouldn’t need it. There was a PT Cruiser stuck in the oncoming “lane” with a guy trying to dig it out with a shovel and I mentally willed the traffic ahead of me to keep moving.

Things started to get weird when the “road” became one lane. Driving in Mexico means being prepared to do things that would give your high school Drivers Ed teacher an aneurysm. Once the road curved back to the west, I was completely blinded by a combination of dust and bright sunlight.

At one point, I was barely crawling because I couldn’t see the boyfriend’s truck in front of me or whether I was about to drive off into the trash dump we were passing.

I don’t really know how much time this funny little detour cost us but we finally rolled into Ciudad Constitución at about 5:45 pm and I was already over it. We had planned to avoid driving at night but once again, we were breaking our own rules. We arrived in Loreto at 8:00 pm and got a room at a pet friendly hotel right on the malecón.

So about this hotel. Like, I understand it is literally *right* on the beach but US $150 is a fucking ripoff. But they know they have you. It’s dark outside and you’re not fiddle fucking around trying to find a more reasonable place. So whatever…I just wanted to take a shower and go to bed. Hahahahahahahaha….no hot water and the office had closed for the night right after we checked in. The remote for the heat also wasn’t working. This room wasn’t even nice and my patience was gone. Thank goodness for Facebook pages. I was able to send messages to management and they sent over a maintenance man, who quickly deduced the hot water was out in the whole building. I was told they would fix the electrical problem when the office opened at 7:00 am. He switched out the remote for the heater and I began trying to get the dogs to go potty next to the Sea of Cortez.

My dogs strongly prefer that water never touch their bodies. Or their paws. They have a serious problem with the Pacific Ocean but I thought the calm waves on the gulf side would be okay. I was wrong. After a long and frustrating day, walking around for what felt like hours with dogs afraid to do their business really was the cherry on top. But Sherman putting a dead mouse in his mouth on the beach was *chef’s kiss*. I went to bed pissed off and exhausted.

Click here to see why we decided to return to the United States.

Returning to the US: First the Why

I moved to Mexico for reasons that probably didn’t make sense to anyone who knows me. It was a rough year and three months which can be summed up in three words: Filth and sadness.

My experience was undoubtedly worsened by the COVID pandemic and the social circle I intended to cultivate never fully materialized. Some of that is totally on me. Unfortunately, I was dealing with other shit that just didn’t allow me the mental fortitude to venture out into the world.

We did not live in a gringo neighborhood. I initially tried to interact with people at mercados and along my walks but had difficulty getting people to even make eye contact with me. Locals tended to only acknowledge me if I was with the boyfriend and sometimes not even then. After a while, I just let that be. As 2020 wore on, I began resenting the locals and their dual price system. Their resentment for gringos was palpable. It was obvious they only tolerated us for our money and many merchants took full advantage whenever they saw an opportunity. There were a few exceptions but mostly it was constant financial fuckery.

FB groups were endless streams of locals complaining about Americans ruining Baja or “The Enlightened Ones” complaining about how Mexicans should keep their dogs on leashes, stop burning their trash, and wear helmets on bicycles. Some Mexicans saw dollar signs and charged outrageous rent but then other Mexicans complained they couldn’t afford to live in their own neighborhoods. Gentrification had finally arrived in Baja. It was just too much.

I developed a system, though. Mostly, I spent every day just trying to get through the day and a lot of that revolved around laundry and dishes. The dogs were on a schedule. The trash pickup was (mostly) on a schedule. I never knew what I was supposed to be doing so I basically just retreated to the things I knew how to do and when to do them. I certainly couldn’t take my dogs for walks because they would just be attacked by street dogs running amok. They say if you don’t like it, leave. I thought that sounded like a fine plan.

We spent much of 2020 watching Argentina to see if they would open their borders to foreigners. South America is a bit of a shitshow but Argentines are accustomed to financial meltdowns and they handle it pretty well. In the fourth quarter, it became clear that Argentina was not a viable option in the near term and a local murder in the middle of the day caused me to lose all patience with Mexico. Burglaries were a constant problem in the area but suddenly foreign women were being robbed at mercados and in front of banks on busy streets in the afternoon. That murder, though, was the thing that made me demand we get the fuck out of there. It wasn’t that there was a murder. It was the circumstances and the people who were threatened if they talked. Common sense says if you stay away from cartel shit, you won’t get involved in cartel shit. That’s difficult when it flows into a busy street and affects people just going about their day.

We then began daily debates (I’m being kind here) about when we were leaving Mexico and where we were going, which was fun. In the midst of that, we made dental appointments and got health certificates for the dogs. We sold our surfboards and his motorcycle (tagged in Baja California Sur). Both of our vehicles had fallen prey to the harsh conditions on the peninsula so we did what we could to prepare them for the 20-hour drive, which was only the first leg of our road trip. After a series of intense negotiations, we departed Todos Santos on January 15, 2021.

The next few posts will document our travels and the challenges we have faced along the way. As I’m posting this, we’re still on the road more than three weeks later. And still working on a destination.

Sarah Palin, Jamie Dimon, and General Zepeda walked into a bar

Fact checking is exhausting, thankless work. We all hate the person who replies, “Well, ackshually…” I regret to inform you I’m about to be that person.

I was recently put in the position of defending Sarah Palin. Goddamn it. Full disclosure: I had never heard of Palin before McCain chose her as his running mate. At first glance, I liked her. Depending on the issue, I’m either conservative or libertarian (small L) and she seemed sane. Then she kept talking and two major problems continuously beat us over the head: One was that she provided cannon fodder for SNL and we mostly lost track of what she said vs what Tina Fey said. The other was our media environment rewards outrageous statements and behavior so there’s pressure to continue outdoing oneself. And Sarah did.

During a casual conversation about geopolitics and economic warfare, I was told Sarah Palin claimed she could see Russia from her front yard. I knew that claim was incorrect but I couldn’t recall the exact details. I simply had a vague awareness that 99.9% of Americans misremember the circumstances. I was told I was wrong so I grabbed my phone for a fact check. It turns out Sarah Palin made a statement which was factually accurate and Tina Fey made the statement everyone remembers during an SNL skit.

I read an article about container traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach the other day that claimed “All those cargoes are then loaded onto tractor-trailers…” I realize I’m picking nits but a large volume of containers received at LA/Long Beach leave via rail. I know this because I have worked in international logistics and it’s annoying when people who are supposed to do their research write such stupid, provably wrong things. Like, you’re the reporter; Why am I doing your fucking job?

So that’s the thing. People have jobs (if they’re lucky) and lives (again, if they’re lucky). As a reporter, YOUR ONE JOB is to report facts. So maybe just do that, okay? We have neither the time nor the mental energy to fact check your work. I was raised at a newspaper and then worked at one in my younger years. So yes, I understand deadlines. I also understand that reporters don’t necessarily write their own headlines and sometimes editors don’t even review articles/op-eds before they run. I also realize lots of people are lazy procrastinators…myself included.

Side note: When I was in eighth grade, I had the misfortune of breaking/chipping/dislocating a finger when my mother was literally putting the newspaper together. That was before automagical layouts and it was a weekly paper that came out on Fridays. This meant every Thursday was hell day. So do you know what she said when I called and told her I needed her to take me to the doctor? She said, “Do you know what day it is?” I told her I did. She then asked, “Are you sure it’s broken?” I looked down at the deformity resembling a pitchfork and told her I was sure. God, she was pissed when she picked me up at practice. After my doctor reduced the dislocation, she dropped my ass off at home and GOT BACK TO WORK.

So a deadline is no excuse for careless fact errors.

I realize I’m an asshole. I used to proofread the classifieds with a red pen on my lunch break. This was in the late 90s before all the proofreaders were eliminated from budgets. If I end up in Hell, the construct will be me in a room full of paper with misspelled words and apostrophe catastrophes without a pen or other means of correcting the errors. There will be a chyron running “Your in hell” on a continuous loop.

Can we not create a meme generator that fixes the you’re/your problem? We can pluck particles off an asteroid flying in outer fucking space but products of our school system can’t comprehend contractions. We deserve everything that’s about to happen to us.

I realize I’m burying my lede a bit here but journalists have ruined their credibility by doing what they’re told by their bosses. Everything is clickbait to drive revenue and people need to eat. The most important story of our time seems boring on the surface but it could ruin all of our lives. It’s the economy, stupid. All of it. Trillions upon trillions of dollars missing from federal budgets, criminalization of innocent people trying to protect their money outside the system, illegal manipulation of markets, theft on a scale that is impossible for the brain to even visualize. Laws that are created and/or changed to benefit the people doing the stealing.

I’ve been thinking about the IRS enforcement agent who tried to convince me my career path should lead toward working for the federal government to investigate financial crimes. I’m one of those weirdos who loves to dive into a database and extract information. You hyperbolize about COVID deaths based on what you saw on Facebook and I wade through excess death stats. You say unemployment is up/down and I review BLS data collection/reporting methods. You say inflation is up/down and I remind you The Fed stopped releasing M3 data in 2006 and BLS continually changes CPI series making it extremely difficult for the average person to compare apples to apples. You tell me the government seized cash, weapons, ammunition, vehicles, and real estate without the person possessing those items being convicted of a crime and I wonder ON WHAT FUCKING GROUNDS. You tell me they wouldn’t have <blank> if they weren’t up to something and I wonder when the hell expecting the Bill of Rights to exist became so revolutionary. See what I did there?

Some politicians try for a bit to expose the grift. Then they stop. Same thing happens with reporters. Corporate and government whistleblowers. Are we supposed to believe there’s no “there” there? That’s an impossible thing to ask when we’re constantly seeing massive bank settlements and indictments of low-level employees. Does Corporate America really have so many rogue MENSA masterminds working for them just out there perpetuating organized crime without detection by management? I’ve written corporate internal controls and I’ve also tried to explain time off policies to employees. Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break.

If that’s not your pet voter issue, then how about criminal justice reform? Are you not outraged that people suffering from mental illness and/or addiction are sitting in prison on a minor possession charge when the former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested in the US for essentially being a drug cartel operator and then we just let Mexico have him back? It’s the same story. Rules for thee but not for me. The world revolves around two things: Money and power. But muh War on Drugs!

This political three-ring circus we’ve been obsessed with for the past couple decades is a giant diversion. Remember the old saying: If you can’t spot the con, you’re the mark.

When a Woman Expresses Rage and Other Inconvenient Feelings

Stream of consciousness writing is recommended by some therapists to help reduce anxiety. It does seem to help and I should do it more often but tend to forget. I’ve never posted anything written in this manner but the man of the house suggested I share this one I wrote last week after I showed it to him. I haven’t made any edits and haven’t even read through it to see if it still makes sense:

Sometimes I daydream about going to a boxing gym and beating a heavy bag with my hands and feet until I’m literally so exhausted and physically broken that I can’t lift myself off the floor.

Gyms are gross, you guys. You don’t want to end up on the floor.

Xanax can fix anxiety but it doesn’t do shit for rage. Rage doesn’t go neatly and quietly back into its little box. You have to wrestle it back in the box like a goddamned Lernaean Hydra while its heads keep multiplying.

There’s a point where I feel like my mind is breaking. If I take one more step or hear one more word, the me which currently exists will be lost forever.

It isn’t anger either. Anger is easy. Anger feels like a puff pastry that goes down smoothly with a nice chocolate stout. Anger is my oldest friend. We stay in touch and our dogs have regular play dates. We know the world is a fucked up place but we have things to do so we don’t dwell on it too much.

Rage is the unstable former college roommate who fucked your then-boyfriend in your bed and sent you the video on your birthday. It shows up at your house 10 years later unannounced and uninvited demanding money while blaming you for its gambling debts and heroin addiction.

Meanwhile, you’re left gobsmacked wondering where the fuck that all came from and how fast can you get it the hell out of your life permanently. It took you for one helluva ride. And when it finally leaves, you can’t believe how tired and relieved you are to be left alone with your low-grade anxiety disorder. This, you can survive.

On To-Do Lists and Family Dynamics…Because Shut Up

The year I turned 40, I decided to stop doing things I don’t want to do. I decided I wasn’t particularly interested in anyone’s opinion of me or my life choices. Since it no longer mattered how I was perceived, I stopped cooking. Other than occasionally boiling water or putting a frozen pizza in the oven, I would microwave whatever or have a sandwich.

When the lockdowns began in March, everyone started baking bread. I went through that phase in the 1990s so it definitely wasn’t for me. We were still trying to figure out how to sell a TV show when no one was pitching or shooting so I kept my focus where it belonged. Changing viewing habits throughout this bizarro year have caused us to reshuffle our projects so that I have a bit of downtime. While I wait for the baton pass, I’m revisiting all of those things that have been “on the list.”

My grandmother died in 2012 and I was the executrix of her estate. There was a small piece of property which had been bouncing around in my grandfather’s family since 1930 and was finally sold around 1995. This particular quarter-section of dry farmland was in a corner of Kansas few have reason to visit. Most of us in the family had a vague idea of its existence but had never seen it and there was a general air of annoyance whenever it was discussed. When my grandmother died, it never occurred to me that I would need to think of that property again.

As an only child, I am mystified by sibling relationships. I never learned the fine arts of manipulation and emotional blackmail. This has probably held me back in my career. Regardless, I never understood the weirdness in my grandfather’s family. He and his two siblings were adopted from different families so I just chalked it up to different backgrounds and really only paid attention at Thanksgiving and Christmas. When I got tired of being around the whole fam-damily, I would go outside and hang with the animals. There was a fucking LION for Christ’s sake…but that’s another story for another day.

So I’m sitting here in Mexico thinking about my storage unit in Arizona. I need to deal with the contents and stop paying for what feels like unnecessary baggage. There are family heirlooms which need to be given to cousins with children. There are documents I need to retrieve and keep with me. There is furniture to be sold or donated. There is book research I can pick up and actually finish. And there are a few outstanding questions which need to be answered. This is how I landed on 160 acres in Morton County, Kansas.

We never straightened out the mineral rights. Just thinking about this gives me a headache. There are multiple deeds back and forth between my great-grandmother and her children with weird percentages for the surface land and other splits for the mineral rights. All of these people are gone so multiple estates were involved. There was a fair share of acrimony involved. People felt entitled. Agitation from outside the family exacerbated the issues. It became one of those things that ends up being dropped because the inevitable fight isn’t worth a small monetary gain.

When I was a child, I could never understand when an adult would answer a question with, “Leave it alone; The past is in the past.” I’ve reached a point where I not only understand that answer but I FEEL that answer deep in my bones. I still don’t understand what was so special about this piece of land that was tiny compared to the rest of the acreage the family owned. If it was so important, I don’t understand why the issue wasn’t resolved while everyone was still alive. I certainly don’t understand why people have to make things so goddamned complicated.

I still struggle with choosing what deserves my mental energy. I still have a million questions and a million things I want to do. There are a lot of loose ends. It seems the ongoing exercise is accepting that some things can and probably should be left undone.

Is Perception the New Reality?

People often say that perception is reality. This is true, in that people generally possess limited imagination. Binary choices seem to be the default settings. For example, government bureaucracy must be either full of hyper-intelligent evil masterminds OR incompetent oafs with room temperature IQs. The truth is far more complex and far more boring.

I’ve had a fair amount of first-person exposure to newsworthy situations which have been contorted into sensational conspiracies. Every single time, basic facts were disregarded because facts are boring. Now that we’re in the clickbait era of news monetization, it’s becoming harder and harder to discern even the simplest facts. Throw deepfakes into the mix and the disinformation opportunities become endless. Human brains just aren’t wired to process all of the data being thrown at them in the information age and no one has the resources to fact check every “news” source.

If you follow the news, you likely believe the border between the US and Mexico is closed. Even official government websites confirm this “fact.” I still see people arguing online about how it’s just the land crossings which have been stopped; air travel has been unaffected. The reality is tourists have been coming and going freely between the US and Mexico via land and air since the lockdowns supposedly began. Yes, flights to and from Cabo had been drastically reduced for a while but they never stopped…even when Baja California Sur was at Level 5 and hotels were supposedly closed. The BCS economy depends on tourism and that’s pretty much the end of the story.

The truth is that you have options but options can be overwhelming. Obstacles are overwhelming. There’s generally a solution to every problem but analysis paralysis is an easy excuse for sticking to your old patterns. You’ve already decided why that thing you would like to do won’t work. You don’t have to live in your current location. You don’t have to compete with your relatives or neighbors. You can expand your social circle to include people outside your political affiliation. You can have your own opinions. You can believe multiple things are true simultaneously. You can feel conflicted over complicated subjects. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

The most important thing to remember is we’re easier to control when we’re divided and confused.

An Altogether Different Sensory Experience

I was sitting on our patio overlooking the ocean catching up on the news with a cup of coffee this morning and noticed a seagull tooling around overhead. This is part of my daily routine. The owls are just ending their shifts. All of the neighborhood dogs are barking at people walking to work. Roosters have been doing their thing since about 3:00 and will be at it most of the day. My neighbor’s singing is regularly drowned out by squeaky suspensions due to the Baja dust and washed-out roads. Hearing the difference between a two-stroke and four-stroke dirt bike on the main road followed by what was obviously a four-wheeler. Because Baja. All of this suddenly made me wonder when I last heard the sound of an airplane or helicopter. It must have been the last time we were in Cabo.

When I lived in Wichita in the mid-1990s, telephone conversations were constantly interrupted by jets taking off at McConnell AFB. My ex-husband had to live within so many minutes of the flight line so there was no escaping it. I remember walking through the parking lot at the Towne East mall and it felt like an earthquake when a B-1B was using burners to get off the ground. It seemed to set off every car alarm within a five-mile radius.

People who live near Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson have the nerve to complain about the relatively mild sounds of A-10 traffic while living in pre and post-war housing built for service members. Wait until the F-35s come to town. Have a defibrillator handy because they will stop your heart. My house in the suburbs was adjacent to the drug and people smuggling superhighway so it was all Blackhawks all the time. Those neighbors were largely military and law enforcement, young enough to be oblivious to how obnoxious a loud engine is in the middle of the night. I often contemplated the various uses for piano wire. I also considered leaving notes on teenagers’ cars letting them know YouTube has videos to solve the trunk rattle caused by their substandard subwoofer configurations. I feel like we had higher bass standards back when N2deep released Back to the Hotel in 1992. I’m more of a Too Short fan but now I’m really showing my age.

Rural Kansas has the sounds (and smells) of farming and ranching. Grain elevators unloading trucks during harvest. Crop dusters spraying fields. Trains blocking the highway next to Cargill for half an hour attaching cars with wheels screeching unmercifully. Dogs howling along with tornado sirens being tested every Wednesday at noon. The Boise foothills vibrate with rattlesnakes in the spring. I can still hear the way my heels clicked on the lobby floor of the Boise Cascade headquarters building. And the owl trapped in my barn frantically trying to escape through an open stall door.

I’ve always been intensely sensitive to sounds and my general environment, to the consternation of everyone around me. People generally think I’m making it up but hyperacusis is an actual thing. Mindful meditation is easy for me because I naturally notice individual sounds and textures wherever I happen to be. Sensory overload is a serious and recurring problem which often results in panic attacks. Crowded cities prevent me from separating and categorizing everything I’m experiencing. It happens too quickly and too constantly for my brain to process it all. Every day is like trying to have a conversation in a crowded bar with a live band. I wish I could be less observant. I apparently missed my calling as a first-rate sonar operator.

The porch is my favorite spot at our house. A nearly constant ocean breeze flows through the arches to create a perfect palm frond sound barrier between my ears and the outside world. The neighbor’s music also helps. But then the psychotic hound rakes her bear claws across the screen door demanding to be let inside. Meditation time is over.

Ooooh…we have water again (and other expectations which must be managed)

A typical home in Mexico tends to have a tinaco on the roof and possibly a ground-level cistern because water delivery is tricky. Rather than go into a boring explanation, you can learn all about it here if you are so inclined. I have written previously about my frustrations in learning how to get laundry done when there is no water but it hadn’t been an issue for a few months. The lockdown gave me nearly first-world water pressure on laundry days and I was borderline giddy with excitement, aside from the whole people dying thing.

Once businesses reopened, I returned to my routine of starting laundry at about 7:30 am so I could do two loads before the pressure dropped. Keep in mind, the stackable washer/dryer is on the covered porch and is connected to the outside water spigot so the temperature of the laundry is the temperature of the water. It drains into the yard via an exceptionally attractive PVC pipe. Anway, I noticed the pressure dropping lower than normal a couple days ago and assumed there was a problem with one of the water mains so an outage was inevitable. I was right.

Yesterday, people in various neighborhoods were discussing their water situations online and there were scattered outages but we were still dripping along. When I turned on the irrigation to water the trees this morning, there was nothing. No big deal…we have the tinaco so we can still bathe and I can carry buckets from the kitchen sink to the washer in a pinch. If it drags on for too long, we can have a truck deliver water. I checked again at around noon and literally said out loud to no one, not even the dogs, “Ooooh…the water is back on.” I use terminal prepositions when talking to myself.

So this is my life now. I literally push my dogs out of the way to slay aggressive scorpions on the kitchen floor. I vacuum gecko shit from the window sills. I listen for the garbage truck every Friday morning and rush to meet it. I complain when the price of a 30-kg propane tank increases by 70 pesos (approx US $3). I can almost sing along to my neighbor’s favorite songs. And I get excited when the water outage is limited to a few short hours. Now I just need to accept that my Jeep will never run right again. This is Baja.

What if you walked away from everything you ever knew?

It seems like an entire lifetime ago but I was once married to one of the nicest people to ever live. That’s a pretty strong statement and I stand by it one hundred percent. Even though I’ve now been divorced for 18 years, I distinctly recall the feeling of wanting to escape. For about the last two years of my marriage, all I wanted to do was load my two Rottweilers in my Jeep and drive far, far away. The destination was irrelevant. I just wanted to get lost.

This year, for the first time in my life, I spent Independence Day in a foreign country. The beaches are closed again due to COVID-19 but other than that it was a regular Saturday. The neighbors were drinking and singing along to their favorite songs. My dogs chased birds. I watched the ocean and social media from our front porch. Twitter was depressing as hell.

I’ve written before about feeling disconnected from the US but I feel like this is different. Right now, I feel like Mexico isn’t far enough away. At the same time, Mexico feels like home. None of this makes sense to me but we’re living a much simpler life here. We don’t own a television and there are no political ads on Netflix, ya know? Maybe it’s a cop-out but I’m done picking sides. All that matters to me right now is my own sanity.

I’m turning 45 later this month and have been reflecting on how people find their places and purposes in life. I’m one of those people who has never quite fit in, no matter the situation. I’ve tried and given up and tried again. It was kind of like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I just don’t belong in a conventional role or a conventional family. Speaking of family, mine thinks I’m batshit crazy and I accept that. People are convinced I’m going to get caught in the crossfire of some cartel war when the reality is I’m walking around the backyard checking to see if the mangoes are ripe enough to eat.

I guess this makes me a selfish asshole but at this point, I have no intention of returning to the US. If I did, I don’t even know where the hell I would go. A cabin in the woods in Wyoming? Civilization is just not working out. How far can we go and still avoid freezing to death? Just north of Antarctica sounds good. Unfortunately, we can’t drive all the way there. You know, the Darien Gap and all that unpleasantness. It’s my understanding the ferries are no longer running through that area. Yes, I’ve actually looked into it. We could take a ferry from La Paz to the mainland and drive to Panama but that’s the end of the road. So then the question becomes how to transport the dogs? Can we all hop a freighter together? Where will they poop?

That’s right…while my home country is burning itself to the ground, I’m pondering the logistics of artificial turf on the deck of a container ship and how much trazodone it would take for my Plott Hound to avoid a psychotic break during the voyage. Sorry, not sorry.

Who Knew I Would Be a Fan of Paying Bribes?

Most Americans are unfamiliar with the intricacies of paying bribes. It definitely happens in some industries to obtain permits and political favors but there’s usually some sort of quid pro quo rather than cash directly changing hands. In the US, citizens are extorted via citations for violations of obscure and often contradictory codes which somehow try to convince us the state can be a victim. The system is much more straightforward in Mexico.

Getting mail and packages delivered in Baja can be an adventure. From my first day in-country, I was told to never, EVER use the Mexican Postal Service for any reason because things just disappear. We’ve had 100% success with DHL delivering to our house. They honk at the gate and we’re off to the races. I ordered a mango slicer from China via Amazon Mexico and the end carrier they used was a local company called Estafeta. I’m guessing they don’t deliver because they called and let me know my package was ready for pickup. We live in a small town so it was barely an inconvenience. There are also local companies who transport letters and packages from the US to Baja so if you have a seller who won’t ship internationally, it’s no big deal. You just use their US address and they charge a fee based on the invoice amount. Easy peasy.

So we ordered an item from Amazon US and the Chinese seller offered shipping to Mexico. Yayzies! I tracked the package from Shenzhen all the way to La Paz and that’s where it stopped. Wouldn’t you know, the end carrier was the Mexican Postal Service. I sent the seller a link to initiate an investigation to locate the package since it had been there since May 14 and I seriously doubt they took any action. The bf was discussing the situation with our mechanic who just happens to live next door to a mailman. Our mechanic passed along the tracking info to his neighbor, who immediately located the package and agreed to bring it to town for the low, low price of 450 pesos (approximately $19.52 US). I have no idea if that’s what the mailman had to pay to release the package or if that was his service fee. I also don’t care.

There is a similar process for resolving traffic citations, expired vehicle registrations, etc. Rather than going to the police station and dealing with a lengthy hassle, you can generally just settle up with the officer on the spot and then go on your merry way. I appreciate the opportunity to expedite the process. My time is valuable and the rules are generally very limited. For example, dirt bikes do not need to be registered and are street legal. Yesterday, I saw a family of three riding a four-wheeler past the Pemex station. They were not recreating; this is a legit form of transportation. I do enjoy living in a place with limited rules and restrictions. The plumbing is garbage but the freedom is fire.

It’s sort of fun learning there truly is a workaround for everything. You just have to ask a local how to make it happen and have some cash on hand.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑