Juan Law / by vanessa

I have yet to share one of my favorite memories from my Mexico trip. But before I do, I think some background info is in order. To that end I've included a handy glossary of terms replete with pictures in homage to Snoop Bush's Leave No Child Behind campaign. (I do my part, folks... I do my part.)

Car: The term used by Mexican rental agencies to describe a Betty Crocker Easy-Bake oven on wheels. Seriously, a pinata is sturdier.

Police: See below.

Topes: Speedbumps on steroids. They come in packs of three in the middle of a highway. You have to come almost to a complete stop in order to traverse them. Yes, you get ample warning, and by 'warning' I mean it's either a bad Bon Jovi album or Mexico's Transportation Department held a contest amongst eighth grade boys to see who could come up with the best sign. Anyway, topes are frequently surrounded by militia carrying machine guns. It's very comforting.

Now that that's out of the way, here's what happened: So, it's Wednesday afternoon and the four of us bid our tearful goodbyes to Hotel Basico. We pack all our bags into the "trunk" of the car. Lance is driving, April's probably sleeping in the front seat, and Havis and I are squeezed in back. We drive north on 307. (Aside: 307, at least for the parts we drove on, is surprisingly well-paved. Seriously, CA DoT could learn a thing or two from our friendly neighbors.) We hit some traffic on the way out of Playa Del Carmen, and since I have the first plane to catch (oh the irony that I was the last one to arrive home) Lance is gunnin' it to get me there on time. And then we hit this long line of traffic b/c way in the distance there are a few topes. What the...??? So we finally get to them, and Lance ever-so-daintily maneuvers over the metal heaps. And by 'daintily' I mean we could have pushed the car faster than he was driving.

We make it over, drive about 30 yards, and then all of the sudden we hear this repetitive honking from the large truck behind us. Havis and I turn around to see what's up. The hatchback of the car had popped open and Havis's luggage had fallen out in the middle of the highway, blocking traffic. Lance pulls over to the shoulder, Scott jumps out to go get the bag, and Lance starts trying to reverse to go back to where Scott is. Only problem is, there's a huge boulder blocking part of the shoulder and Lance is all freaked out, understandably -- we all are -- and it's the most we can all do to just stop the car. So as Havis is picking up the bag, sure enough, the po-lice show up (in the whole 10 seconds that have passed) and stop Scott. (For those of you who are confused by the people in this story Scott = Havis, Hav, or Havey. I should probably use codenames but only Renee, or Dre as she is affectionately called in these pages, has insisted on it.) Anywhoo, Lance starts saying to April, "get out and go help Scott -- he might need your Spanish!" April insists she doesn't know Spanish but I beg to differ -- she knows 'queso' ALL too well. So we all watch helplessly as Havis is "talking" to the cop. We can see him gesturing, but since I can vouch that he knows even less espanol than I do, I'm not sure how much progress is really being made. I started thinking about what would happen if I missed my flight. I grew increasingly nervous the longer he talked to the cop and made up scenarios in my head about the police coming over and taking us all to jail, or at a minimum, Scott, and I wanted neither. In total the whole exchange lasted maybe two minutes, but it was enough to make me want a Xanax. Havis eventually walked back to the car, luggage in hand, and got in. I think he was spooked too.

What happened??!! Well, he told us, when the cop drove up and the extent of his English was a repeated 'Ticket! You pay now!', he did the one thing that every Texas boy learns in college when crossing the border with his fraternity to see some "entertainment": he bribed him. He took out his wallet, opened it, and handed him the largest bill he had. The cop, ever the ethicist, refused to take the money, and instead motioned for Scott to drop it in his car. Which he did. We are so lucky he had cash on him - the rest of us had less than pennies, having blown the last of our pesos on some really good egg sandwiches at a breakfast joint called, fittingly, "Hot Breakfast!"

And that, my friends, is one of my favorite memories from my trip.