I really need to stop complaining when nothing blog-worthy happens.
Today started like a normal day: I drove Ibis to work then ran a few errands before a doctor's appointment. She's normally an hour late but today it was even longer before she arrived, so I was there almost two hours. They give very individualized attention here so at least you get your money's worth.
I ran into a friend afterwards then when I got back to my car, realized my front license plate was gone. We're in the middle of trying to renew our plates in another state and this is the last thing we need right now. I raced home to call Ibis, who promptly told me to go to the police station to report the theft. As we were talking I started wondering if the missing plate had anything to do with the parking ticket I received yesterday so he asked his boss and sure enough, they take your plate to ensure you pay the fine.
We're going on a week-long road trip starting Thursday (I'll tell you all about it tomorrow) so we really need that plate back today. There wasn't an amount on the ticket so Ibis told me to take 500 pesos along and hope for the best. Before leaving I called an American friend who's been here for years to get her take on things. She told me to ask for the director and explain what happened and they should reduce the fine. Seems simple enough, right?
Just one tiny detail. Like most people I've grown up with a fear of the Mexican police. As a tourist I knew they treat even petty crimes more seriously than back in the US and I've gone through my adult life doing my best to avoid such places. There's a large police presence here in Zihua so I knew right where to go, but that didn't make my nerves any calmer. Oh yeah, and I was supposed to sweet-talk the director de transito in Spanish. Ha.
Just as I was getting ready to leave, the house started shaking. At first I thought it was my imagination but the pots banging in the kitchen told me otherwise: EARTHQUAKE! It only lasted about five seconds and I didn't hear any reactions from the neighbors so I'm assuming it was very small. I most likely only felt it because we're on the fourth floor. I stood in a doorway long enough to determine that nothing else was happening (because I'm a seismologist now) then left to pay off la policia.
I did just what my neighbor told me: I asked for the Departamento de Transito, then asked for the director. Once in his office I explained that I park in that spot all the time and never saw a No Parking sign or received a ticket so the sign must be new. I assured him I wouldn't park there again (at least I think that's what I said) then I waited for him to speak.
He told me the fine was normally 150 pesos but he'd reduce it to 100 pesos for me. Gracias! I had to go through two more people to pay and then get my plate, then I was on my way.
The police station was nicer than I expected, although I was in the transit department. It was air conditioned, there were benches and lots of officers sitting around. Overall, not a bad experience but I'll be happy if I never have to return.