After reading the article on USA Today, I thought I'd visit and share my experience(s) with Mexico. My first unpleasant experience in Mexico was in Cancun circa 1999 when our rental car was broken into at the Cancun Wal-Mart/Sams Club parking lot. They took everything in there, including my father’s day bag that had all of our travel papers and info. We lost our plane tickets and passports in addition to a bunch of personal property like cameras, CDs, music players, clothing. In order to get our passport back we had to go hours away to a police station that would type up letters explaining what had happened (which is supposedly what the US consulate needed). They hand-typed 7 identical documents for every person on a 1960's typewriter (didn't even have a photo copier) and charged us for each sheet they had to type. My second experience was more awful. We were basically robbed by a police lieutenant on our way to the airport. We had been pulled over for the first time a few days before the second time for "speeding" but I was not really speeding and I in fact had a radar detector in my car to attempt to avoid the extortion attempts, which didn't work because they don't actually run your speed (I wasn't speeding either time anyway). So having been extorted once already and foolishly paying the motorcycle police officer (they hold your license ransom) approx. $40, we were pulled over again. I knew it was a shake-down when they were being really sketchy about being stopped across from a big hotel, so they ordered us down the street, more out of view. I made the mistake of mentioning that we were on the way to the airport, to which they took full advantage. They demanded payment after taking my license and ordered me out of the car. I told them that I had to American cash on me (which was true), and that I only had pesos, which amounted to about $12-$15. This was of course not good enough, and that it was going to cost me several hundred dollars. At about this point my wife exited our rental car in tears, pleading with them that we had a plane to catch and to take what I offered and/or let us go. So in desperation, I figured that I had something valuable that he would want so I offered my watch, which was an atomic Citizen chronograph that retails at about $850 (I paid much less but pretty much got it at cost). The evil cop was asking me it was as nice as a Fossil watch. Lucky for me, he took the offer and didn’t notice that I had scratched the glass on it, so I took a bit of comfort in knowing, even though he was an idiot, he would have thought HE was taken by getting a scratched watch. He gave me my license back and him and his partner (there were two cops this time) smirked as they went back. I told him, probably foolishly, that this kind of thing makes people not want to come here ever. I have since vowed that I will NEVER go back to Mexico and will always go out of my way to not let them get another dollar from me, which includes purchasing products made in Mexico.
I have since learned that the right way to handle something like this is to just tell them to give you the ticket. As long as you have time to go down to the police station, which would be the norm, to pay the measly fine (and look it up if you can), that the fines are usually about $10-$20 (given of course that they don’t rob you at the police station). Another thing to do is make copies of your license and try to give them a photocopy at first or tell them your license is at the hotel “you think,” and if they start getting crazy about you not having it on you, only then brandish the real thing. Better yet… AVOID MEXICO! I’m not sorry to say the following, which has been my experience… There is a culture of corruption and dishonesty there.