August 17th, 2011
So a few months ago I was arrested in Mexico. It’s not terribly exciting, but it was my first international arrest, so here is my tale. Perhaps you can get a life lesson out of this one.
An old friend of mine came to San Diego for a weekend of surf, sunshine, and Mexico. I did my best to give him a thorough experience as only a local can (mind you, I am not a local to San Diego). I’ve lived here for just over 2 years and Mexico is hardly a dangerous and foreign place to me. In fact, I’ve been there dozens of times and never had an ounce of trouble. So here we are, a sun-shining afternoon in Tijuana, Mexico enjoying $1 beers and plenty of fish tacos. I wanted to give my friend the real deal TJ experience so I gave him a stroll through the red light district. Lo and behold, we run into another friend of mine who lives in the area. He invites us to have some beers. Mind you, beers only. Let’s not get carried away here.
One thing leads to another and it’s after dark, stumbling to the border time. I’m always building or fixing something, so it’s not unusual for me to have a knife in my pocket. Well, the Mexican law doesn’t take so kindly to such tools of the trade (I later learned you can get 5 years just for carrying a bullet). A police office noticed my clip and knife, and found me as an easy target. Fortunately for me, my Spanish is up to par.
So quickly in cuffs, I learn it’s illegal to have a blade in Mexico. I’m escorted to a small holding cell. It’s no joke; like every bad movie… cling clanging bars, concrete floor, and a 6′x6′ cell filled with ten other guys. One guy was holding his nose, pouring blood like a busted faucet. I’d later learned he was smashed up in a street fight with some drug pushers.
I did my best to size them all up, but I’m no giant. I’m 5’8” on a good day, and 145 lbs soaking wet. Don’t be deceived though, I’ve tossed back enough punches to know what it feels like to catch one in the jaw. I’m not afraid. If anything, I’m feeling on top of the world. How many guys get pinched in Mexico and get to enjoy the tale?
So eventually we are processed and moved across town. Should I mention that they took all my money and fake Ray-Ban shades? Well, those cops did. So $62 and a fake pair of sunglasses later, I’m being transferred across town in the back of a pick up truck handcuffed to a daisy-chain of other detainees. We pick up a few Johns and women of the night. Remember, I’m the only gringo here (entonces, solo en español).
We get to the main jail and I’m brought before a judge. I plead my case (remember its still the same night and I’m buzzing with excitement and nerves). He ends up letting me go (sans the money in my pockets and those nice damn fake Ray-Bans). This is where that photo above is taken. Little did I know, my buddy I ran into in Tijuana is married to an angel who is friends with the local magistrate (she managed to snag this photo from the outside door as I was walking through the hall to the magistrate, still handcuffed). She pulls some strings to let the gringo out that night. I’m free!
So check it out: The blood you see on the floor? Yeah, that guy with the broken nose was still leaking blood like he had a few gallons to spare. I get out and catch a ride to the border. Fifteen minutes later I’m home free and sleeping sweetly in my 800 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets. Yeah, we’ve got it good. Getting arrested in Mexico? No big deal for the almost bohemian. Oh yeah, and I don’t think my old buddy will be visiting me anytime soon.