Last week as my husband, along with another missionary, was driving twelve hours north of here, the car broke down. Five hours and $650.00 (US dollars) later, they managed to be on their way. We thanked God they were safe, as two gringos broken down on the side of the road with US plates can be an invitation for trouble. Little did we know there would be greater danger on their return trip.
Heading south out of Queretaro and into Estado de Mexico, they were pulled over by a corrupt policeman who demanded $5,500 pesos for carrying cargo illegally. Mike assured him it was not cargo (items to be sold) rather personal belongings and household items. After some time of ‘discussion’ and threats, the policeman offered to let him go with a minimal fine, paid right there. A short time later, corrupt cop numero dos stops the guys and says the car is illegal and therefore demanded another hefty fine. My husband refused to pay and showed him the sticker on the windshield- the permit for the car to be in the country legally. More ‘discussion’ until finally the cops’ partner gets weary of the argument, or nervous, and taps his buddy and says, “leave him alone and let’s go”.
The next, and last, stop would be life threatening. But who knew? Even I sat at home waiting for hubby’s arrival completely unaware of the situation in which they found themselves.
Within the hour, they are pulled over again. Same spiel, same yada yada. My husband again refuses to meet his demand- this time the confiscation of our vehicle! As before, the policia asks to see his drivers license and permit and again Mike holds it firmly to show without handing them over. Except this cop grabs them quickly out of Mike’s hand and gives orders to follow him to the ‘station’.
Before Mike and his friend realized their predicament, they found themselves approaching a dusty dead end to the road they turned onto. The ‘cop’ gets out and tells them to pull into a yard – a junk yard with a heavy metal door waiting open. Mike flatly tells this guy there is no way he is pulling in there. The cop waves the license and tells Mike he has no choice if he wants it back, and casually saunters in to the yard. So Mike tells our friend, who is now on the phone with an official from Oaxaca, to stay in the car and keep it running while he walks in there to get his license and permit back. And by the way, he adds, if you hear a loud noise or any trouble, take off and find help.
Mike would later tell me he didn’t think he would make it out of there alive. It wasn’t until he entered the yard that he saw the half dozen or so rough characters hanging around the perimeter. He approached a desk where another burly sort waited for business to be transacted – which now was a $ 1,450.00 peso fine, since they didn’t get the car full of our stuff as they had hoped. Reiterating the fact that he neither has it nor would pay it, Mike was just wanting out of there fast. Finally, he saw no other solution and therefore pulled a couple bills from his wallet, dropped it on the table, grabbed his license and turned around to leave. He expected either a bullet in the back or to be jumped, since the amount was measly and no where near what they wanted. But he kept walking and made it to the car. Someone did follow him but stopped when they saw a lady walking across the street. The poor lady happened to look up just then, and her face froze with fear at the sight of the man. She wasted no time in leaving. However, that slight distraction allowed Mike to hop in the car and leave in a cloud of dust.
They made it to Oaxaca at midnight and Mike dropped into bed grateful to be home and alive.
Anything could have happened back there. I’m glad my hubby has a stubborn streak- it saved his life and the life of our friend. I’m glad God sends his angels to watch over us. These guys had wanted the ‘stuff’ in the car and wouldn’t have cared for witnesses, if you get the drift. No one would have ever known.
Was anyone praying?