Hard Time in Oaxaca
The motorcycle cop looks at me like the cat that got the mouse and demands my license and registration. Having just pulled me over while I was turning right on Reforma in the center of Oaxaca, I figured I was in for a shakedown.
Handing him my Oregon license of questionable current status, I reflected on the fact that my VW Bug (a.k.a. Vocho), was not registered. What's more, it carried a litany of unpaid past fees and tickets. This guy could easily toss me in the clinker, forget about me for a week or two, then come back and see how much he could work me for!
That's when I remembered some sage advice from a veteran expat: Pretend you have NO SPANISH when the cops pull you over.
Motorcycle cop repeated his request for my registration. I put on a faux Texas accent and quipped, "Necesita aprendar Espanol". I'd just told the cop in spectacularly mangled Spanish, "You need to learn Spanish".
Did he go for the cuffs? No... he just cracked up and handed me my license, got on his bike, and sped off without another word.
Somehow, this and many other incidents involving VW Bugs (called the Vocho in Mexico) led to me creating a graphic novel where one of the main characters is El Vocho.
Photo: That's me in the village of Mitla, shot by Carrie McNinch