Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sunday: La Toma, Magdalena and Policia Encounter #3

We awoke in our wonderful hotel, Casa Dulce Maria, and we watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics narrated in Spanish, of course. We had scoped out the Casa Dulce Maria breakfast menu the night before as follows in pesos:
Husband and I had a colorful breakfast of fresh fruits, yogurt and granola. The kids had hot cakes. The coffee was instant with powdered cream which seemed to taste great too - guess the atmosphere does wonders.La Toma Balnearios
We then headed out for La Toma Balnearios not knowing exactly how to get there but knowing general direction. Surprisingly, there was actually a sign pointing to a right turn onto a one lane, dirt mountain road. We tentatively wound our way around and up the mountain. We arrived at the most amazing mountain swimming park. There was a waterfall in which a pool had been built under, another smaller waterfall pool and a large pool area with slides and play equipment ($20 pesos per person/$2 USD). We were literally on the side of the mountain with the most glorious views. This was a uniquely Mexican experience. It was clearly a local gathering place for families to picnic, swim and relax.
We then headed to the next town, Magdalena, to tour the Opal Mines. The square was bustling with activity and we finally found a parking spot. We found a guy on the square who escorted us to a tiny opal shop where we managed to secure a tour ($200 pesos per adult/$20 USD). Our guide was a delightful 25 year old woman who did not know much English. She stopped at a local taco stand so we could get a late lunch - our first time to eat gorditos - they were very tasty.

The Opal Mines were on the mountain and were more like large piles of shale rock. We had a nice hike, banged on some rocks, found some opals in rocks we got to keep (not anything you would make jewelry from) and enjoyed the experience. Husband's father was a geo-physicist so brought back memories for him.

Our guide took us to an old railroad station and told us the local legend of the lake on way back to town.

Policia Encounter #3

So now we had our 3rd. Upon arriving back to our SUV, we saw a ticket on the windshield and the municipal policia whistled for Husband to approach their car. It was "bad, very bad" so they said. Husband has acquired more policia handling knowledge in last month so communicated in Spanish "let's go to the station." Off went the policia clearly not waiting for us to follow. Fortunately, we found them stopped about 2 miles down the road. They were with some poor fellow and the federal policia. We parked and Husband approached to wait out the other guy's unfortunate encounter. Finally Husband starts to negotiate terms with policia. It seems they want us to come back in 5 days! (recall we are 3 1/2 hours from home) Husband struggles in "just barely okay" Spanish. The younger officer was playing the hard a--. Finally the older officer and a civilian step in to help. They are more reasonable. After a one hour delay and $250 pesos, the policia attached our front USA license plate back to our SUV and we were on our way. Husband did mucho better this time!


Cynthia Johnson and Mike Nickell said...

GREAT pics on your last 2 posts! And I can really appreciate your spontaneity in not trying to drive home on Sat. I bet the kids will remember that weekend for a long time!

Jennifer said...

That weekend is the perfect example of why you moved. Thanks so much for letting us tag along with your adventure. But, I am going to start referring to you as a Policia Magnent!

Fat Doctor said...

Teaching your children the value of a payment to policia is muy necesito, I'm afraid. Just be sure they know offering that to a US officer can get them in trouble. ;)

American Mommy in Mexico said...

Cyn - Thanks comment on pics. I am using an iPhone! I go back to USA 9/8 and will get a new digital then. I cannot wait. I love taking photos.

Jenn - I know it SO is. I hope we have several of these kinds of weekends.

FD - Point well taken - I had not really thought about it that way. Just glad Husband got out of this one for less than $120 UDSs!

'Eddie Willers' said...

Maybe its me - having been here five years I think I can handle the corrupt cops with equanimity and usually call their bluff with some good street Spanish ('Porque me interrogas, guey?')

But, in my opinion, paying off the cops when you KNOW you have done nothing wrong, or something relatively minor (like a parking ticket) is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! It just encourages the whole rotten culture to continue. Local cops are often just wind and p1ss - one discovers that very quickly - and will oft try to pull the wool over gringo eyes with frightening stories.

Try bribing the Federales out on the open highways and you'll find yourself being escorted to jail in short order. If you wouldn't try it with them, why do it elsewhere?

American Mommy in Mexico said...

In this situation, we actually did only pay the fine that was associated with the supposed infraction. We do not know however if he pocketed it or not. Being 3 1/2 hours away was part of the delima and having two kids in car was also under consideration - we needed to get home and it was going to be dark soon.

I agree that if we get a ticket where we actually live we will just follow the normal process for payment/reslotion.

In Monterrey - we were just stupid and exhausted and confused and ... definitely a learning experience.

We are getting there!