Hi, I haven't posted a blog entry in a while. We are settling in. The novelty of our situation has began to wear off. There is still much to learn about living in Mexico. We had our first experience with the local traffic police. One of our friends had a slight fender bender. This friend is notorious for being a slow driver so he was probably going about 10mph in downtown traffic when another car tapped his bumper. Both drivers got out of their cars and surveyed the damage. Our friend's suv suffered a small dent to bumper. The other car had a dent on their front right fender by their light. The other driver did want the traffic police called over who were just at the end of the block. He said that he did not have insurance. Our friend said since both cars received slight damage they could just call it even. Our friend is from the States but has dual citizenship. He speaks Spanish. At this point our friend got back in to his vehicle and drove to the grocery store about a half mile to a mile away. The other driver followed him. When our friend stopped, the other driver got out and yelled at him for smashing into his car and driving away! The uproar caused a crowd to form. Police were called. The locals were horrified that a tall American (who cares if the American is of Mexican descent and is a citizen of Mexico) would do such a thing to an older Mexican couple. The police arrived. At this point our friend knew that things were not going well. He asked how much they wanted. How much did he have to pay? The police said that he had to go to the police station to settle the incident. It was at this time that we arrived to help. (We had dinner plans with them, so, they had been texting us as to why they were late.) There were about 10 or more police surrounding him and saying that since he was not cooperating and had such a bad attitude they had to take him in. Our friend was handcuffed. The police only reached his shoulders so if the situation wasn't so serious it would have been comical. The police led him to a police truck with an extended cab. Our friend had to scrunch up to fit in it. We followed a motorcycle police to the station. I asked our friends if they had photographed their cars. No, they had not done so. They asked if I had my camera with me. No, I did not but I had my cell phone. So out came the iphone and I started taking pictures. When I took a picture that included the director of the police station, I was in trouble. First of all the police do not like pictures taken. Secondly, the director does not allow any pictures taken of himself. He grabbed my phone. I grabbed it back! He had a wild look in his eye as if he would throw it against a wall. Couldn't let that happen! He told me that he should arrest me for taking pictures. He told me that in my country I would be arrested. He was very angry with me. It was at that point that I decided it might serve my friends' best interests if I kept a low profile. Before I went into hiding I showed a policeman that I was deleting the director's picture from my phone and to please tell him that I did it. I did call some other friends in to help. One brother wanted to speak to a policeman but no one would...but I did run across the director again and sincerely apologized for taking his picture. He said sorry was not good enough and that I belonged in jail. After that encounter, I had Robin park the van out on a side street and took refuge in it until the entire situation was resolved 2 hours later. Our friend was accused of leaving the scene of an accident. He had to pay $1,500 pesos to the older couple and a fine of $1,200 to the police for “leaving the scene of an accident.” At one point the wife of the older couple complained of stomach pains brought on by the accident so our friend's wife and another friend who was being a wonderful go-between with the police (along with her husband) volunteered to take this poor lady to the hospital to get her checked out...she had an instant recovery! Before the older couple left the station, they told our friends that they were friends with most of the policemen there and that they were good friends with the director's parents so he needed to watch his back! A threat! It was heartwarming to see many of our new friends from the Spanish congregation come by and, as was already mentioned, we were so thankful for our friends from the English congregation. This Mexican couple were so calm and respectful to all involved. One brother from the English congregation works for the city and knows many of those involved. He made some phone calls in our friend's behalf. By midnight our friend had paid up, was released and was driving himself home! Later we learned that if the police impound your car you must pay an impound fee each day in cash and another lump sum when the car is released! Yikes! So, you never want the police to take your car. Another important lesson is that if you have a fender bender it is best to resolve it on the spot. Pay up there. I questioned rather the person would do the same thing as the older couple even after you give them money....the brothers were shocked by my question....they replied that no, the other people would honor the settlement....another one of those “things-that-make-you-go-hmmmmm....” Our neighbor thought that the older couple did not want the police involved at the scene of the accident because then when a crowd formed there would be ones who saw the accident and they could have said that the older couple were to blame so they took it somewhere where they could accuse our friend and no one would know how it really happened. We have been hearing about other newcomer's traffic stories...seems that some have had to spend a night or two in jail due to a traffic/car infraction. Now that would be very scary. At one point one of the officers told our friend that this was how he was treated in the states....could he be holding a grudge? I have to say that up to this night I had found the traffic police pleasant and helpful but this was during the day. At peak traffic times, the traffic police control traffic flow. It helps! I have been always thankful to see them directing traffic. Showing respect to those in authority here is important. One of the big reminders that we are-not-in-Kansas-anymore!