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Positive Mexico Stories

The following postings began as a thread in the newsgroup rec.travel.latin-america beginning 6/28/98 under the subject "Positive Mexico stories":

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I was looking for my passport tonight after I posted a message to you and was reminded of an experience in Puerto Angel in February of this year. I drove a friend to Pto. Angel from Mazunte and stopped by a small touristy gift shop for a couple of gifts to take home the following day. As you've mentioned, there is a shortage of change there. I told the clerk to keep the change - which was not a considerable amount. When I got back to Mazunte, I found that I had left my cloth wallet at the store along with my passport, credit card, drivers license and a small amount of cash - about $50.00 US in pesos. I drove back as quickly as I could safely. The clerk was still there, and I asked about the wallet--with little Spanish on my part, little English on hers. We finally communicated, and she handed me the wallet from the cash drawer...intact. I gave her a small tip along with profuse thanks. I crossed the street to the truck and she came running across gesturing wildly. She walked up to the vehicle and handed me a small shell souvenir item with a very large and very sincere smile. What a great feeling.

I don't know the name of the shop, but it is a small single room storefront at the top of a high curb and several steps. They sell clothing, local arts and crafts and other tourist items. They also are purveyors of honesty and friendship - especially when dealing with a rather disorganized gringo preoccupied with the trip home the next day. All of my memories of the Pto. Angel/Mazunte area are good ones, but this is one of the best.

p.s.   A copy of your passport is not a bad idea when travelling. The loss of mine would have been very inconvenient, but I had a copy in my pack at the beach.

Bill Brecheen

September 1998

The following postings appeared in the newsgroup rec.travel.latin-america beginning 6/28/98 under the subject "Positive Mexico stories":

I see a lot of stories about the need for caution in Mexico (and elsewhere in Latin America) because of the crime, etc., etc. No doubt they are true, but I'd like to share a couple of instances on the flip side of the coin, where people's honesty really made my day. I was in Hermosillo, Sonora, and had taken a taxi to my hotel. The driver didn't have change for the smallest bill I had, so I went in to the front desk of the hotel to make change. He followed me in, and I paid him. I turned around to talk to the desk clerk, but soon stopped in mid-sentence, looking around in a panic for the driver. He was
gone, and my bag--the one with everything I had with me for the entire trip--was gone with him. I was sure I would never see it again. The next morning it still hadn't shown up, and I set out to buy some of the essentials. When I returned, my jaw dropped to see the same taxi driver standing there, bag in hand. He hadn't noticed it until just then.

In May, in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, I took a taxi from the airport to my hotel. As I was checking in, I fished for my wallet, but came up with only spare change and some pocket lint. "F***!" I said involuntarily. My wallet was gone. I had left it on the seat of the taxi when I paid him (do you see a trend developing here? ). It wasn't a major crisis, as it was only my spending money--I had a belt with my passport, credit cards, etc.--but it was still around $50 and the miscellaneous things that accumulate in wallets. Besides, I was starving, and now I had to go find a cash machine before I could eat. As I was just about to strike off in search of an ATM, the same taxi pulled up. He waved my wallet, asking with a big grin, "Is this yours?" I checked it, and nothing was missing. I rode with the same driver later, and expressed my gratitude. He replied "Of course I had to return it. My conscience wouldn't let me keep it."

Small events, to be sure, but they did wonders for restoring my good opinions of the people I met.

I know we need to be cautious, but it's nice to hear positive stories as well. Anybody else have any to share?

Curt Rosengren

Travel Photos:   www.accessone.com/~curtr/travelphotos.htm

Similar story in the Ixtapa area. I had just bought a new 35 mm camera and taken it on a trip to Mexico. I went into Zihuatanejo, took some photos, and when back to my hotel. Got to my room and realized I had left my new camera in the taxi. Good-bye camera.

Two days later I was walking across the parking lot when I heard a "Señor, Señor!". Sure enough, there was the taxi driver running across the lot with my camera in hand. With all of the fares he had over those two days, he remembered the gringo who was so careless as to leave his new camera in the taxi.

Ernie Gorrie
The Tropical Dream Maker

Oh, another one I forgot to mention...I had gotten into a taxi outside the second class bus station in Oaxaca city and we were pulling away when I felt something drop in my lap. It was the Spanish-English dictionary that I carried everywhere. It must have fallen out of my bag when I was getting into the taxi. In the space of just a couple seconds somebody had seen it, picked it up, and thrown it in the window as we drove away. I was amazed.

Curt Rosengren

Travel Photos:   www.accessone.com/~curtr/travelphotos.htm

My wife and I were travelling a few years ago in our old VW camper when we broke down in the desert in northern Mexico. A car travelling in the opposite direction stopped to see what the problem was. As we obviously needed a mechanic, he drove us 20 miles to the nearest town (the opposite direction to where he was headed), found a mechanic and drove us all back to our van.

Getting stuck in the sand near a beach (Zipolite) also had half a dozen helpers immediately coming to our aid. This sort of attitude is what makes us keep going back.

Jim N.


I find travelling a lot like teaching. One seems to spend an inordinate amount of time on the few disruptive students, and ignore the vast majority of good students. We need to be aware when we travel of the need for common sense, but we need to focus on the positive. Thanks for posting a positive message.


I have a couple of motor home stories. I was trying to get to Queretaro from Mexico City in my 23 foot motor home. Not the most maneuverable of vehicles and as anyone knows the signage on Mexican highways is awful. I came to a traffic circle (glorietta) and was trying to figure out which road was the one to Queretaro. While my wife hastily studied the map I just kept going around the circle. Suddenly I saw a motorcycle cop in my side mirror. He was right beside me. He motioned for me to role my window down. I'm thinking, "oh no, he's going to want to take my license plate, or try to get me on something so he can get the "mordida" (bribe) out of me. I put my window down and he asks, "Where are you going?" "Queretaro" I say. "Follow me" he says and puts on his lights, pulls in front of me and clears a path through the traffic. I am thinking, "Okay, for this small service he is going to hit me up for big pesos." We continue on a few miles, his lights still flashing. When we get to the turn off for Queretaro he simply motions for me to turn off there. I go right, he goes left and now I'm thinking, "What a nice guy. How could I have thought so badly of him."

Another time I was in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. We had gone into this small town just to look around. As usual we headed for the centro looking for the zócalo. We found it all right. I decided just to drive around it. I made a right turn and looked up on a wall on the right side of the street to see a "one way" arrow pointing in the opposite direction. As I looked to my left I see a sign, "Policía" and 3 or 4 cops sitting on the porch watching me going the wrong way on a one way street. I thought for sure I was in for it, but no. They just got their laugh and waved me on.

One final story from Oaxaca state. We were on our way up the mountain to Monte Albán. The road was extremely narrow and many switchbacks. On one switchback I met a bus coming down from the ruins. He was partially into my lane. All I could do was try to get over far enough without going over the edge to miss him. As I did so, my rear tire struck a piece of jagged concrete beside the road and blew a tire. When we finally got to the top I tried to change the tire in the parking lot. I worked and sweated for about an hour in the parking lot with no success at all. Then, two bus drivers came over and without hesitation took over for me. Within 10 minutes or so they had the blown tire off and the spare on. One of them even tore his pants on a sharp piece of metal sticking out from one of the busses. I tried to pay the men but they wouldn't hear of it. I was extremely grateful for their kindness.

Yes, I got my pocket picked too, but even that ended up happily because the thief took the money and threw the wallet on the sidewalk with my driver's license, credit cards, etc. still in it. A woman picked it up; found a receipt from the trailer park where we were staying, called the manager and told him where I could pick the wallet up at her place of work just a few blocks away.

In spite of it all, there is still much more good goes on in Mexico than bad I think.

Dan Ferguson

A few years ago, I was riding my motorcycle back to San Diego from Enseñada. On the outskirts of Tijuana I took the wrong exit onto a highway. Rather than follow it to the next exit to make a proper U turn I just rode over the grassy median and made the U turn right there. Ten seconds later, a Tijuana motorcycle cop is right behind me with lights flashing (he: Kawasaki 1000; me: 750 Magna). I pulled over and was told the fine was 10 bucks. All I had was a fifty and I knew he would somehow "justify the fine up" to get the entire 50 dollars. Well, he only wanted the 10 and since he didn't have change, he let me follow him to his "precinct" (my heart was racing with fear/adrenaline!) in this little suburb where he then took me and my 50 bill inside and gave me back 40 dollars. This blatant display of human honesty and integrity was 180 degrees from what I'd expected based on the stories of Mexican cops I'd heard. This gave me such a warm fuzzy feeling that I bought a beautifully aromatic concoction of beef, onion, cilantro and corn tortillas - otherwise known as tacos - for my amigo policía, his partner and myself. We sat around outside eating, drinking Tecate and admiring each others bikes. A great day. Sure do miss my Magna.

I have another story where a whole town (Colonia Guerrera) turned out to help me. But I'll save it para un otra día. ¡Viva Mexico!

John Harper   AA5YX/2
YashicaMat 124G Info Page:   http://home.att.net/~j..harper

Upon my arrival in Cancun (on my way to Belize) I became acquainted with my collectivo [taxi shared by passengers with similar destinations] driver. I was uncertain about staying in a hotel a friend had recommended to me - so I asked the driver if he could recommend a nice but low budget hotel near the bus station. I didn't speak Spanish, and I told him of my plans to take the bus the next day to Belize. Not only did he take me to a wonderful and affordable hotel - but a block away from the bus station (so I need not call on a taxi again the next morning) - he first drove me to the bus station and helped me order my ticket!

During the drive down the hotel strip towards downtown Cancun, he told me stories of the city, of Chetumal and other bits of interesting local information. His pride in his country was obvious and his advice never steered me wrong. He taught me a few key Spanish phrases to get me by. I've never had such a helpful and friendly taxi ride here at home in Canada!

R. Bathurst

Ontario, Canada

My brother and I drove into Mexico City on our way back to the USA, and within 5 minutes were pulled over by an extremely surly MC Policeman who noticed our California plates. He demanded US$50 for some trumped-up charge, which we negotiated down to $25. We drove off feeling angry and victimized. We then missed our way in the confusion of Mexico City traffic; I leaned out the window and asked a taxi driver for directions. He said it's too complicated, but just follow him. He took us at least 4 miles through the city, winding this way and that, directly to the highway we wanted. He refused any payment, and by his actions erased the anger we felt at DF.   Cheers


Shopping in the main market in Merida, if a vendor owes me change and doesn't have it just then, I don't even worry - I just go on with my shopping and know that at some point he or she will find me and give me the change - it's never, ever failed.

There are several times, when in other parts of Mexico in small towns, I've asked walking directions and the policeman or citizen has accompanied me to where I was going. We simply do not have this sort of hospitality in the USA.

Once I was driving around northern Yucatan by myself (female). Just me and my camera. I love to follow small roads and see where they go. One afternoon, I was photographing birds in Las Coloradas, Yucatan, about 12k from Rio Lagartos (in other words, the end of the world), when a uniformed policeman came chasing me down the beach at a dead run. "Uh oh," I said to myself. He told me to follow him back to his "office," a small building on the beach. He explained that he was the capitán of the port and just wanted to chat. He offered me a tour of the small freighter tied to the dock. I followed him to the ship, we climbed a ladder and boarded a Panamanian vessel with the toughest, wildest looking crew of men I've seen in a while. One of the scurviest looking of them, a Mexican, introduced himself as the ship's captain and invited me into his navigation room, showed me his radio equipment, asked about the USA, showed me photos of his family, and I sat around chatting and drank a few cokes with the crew (if you down them really fast, before the ice has a chance to melt, you decrease your chances of getting the runs). We had a delightful afternoon. I photographed them (and sent them the pictures later). They were perfect gentlemen. Viva Mexico.


I have read all the postings this message has brought up to today. They show the true nature of the Latin-American, there are just a few that are dishonest, thieves, muggers etc. but the grand majority of good warm people is what a foreigner finds when there.

It is a pleasure to know these good positive happy "non-accidents of behavior". Keep coming up with these histories of good human nature. God bless you all


I've been lurking this list for a long time and this thread really warms my heart.... and I have another positive story to add.

My husband and I were returning to the airport at Tuxtla G. after a great couple of weeks in the San Cristobal/Palenque area and we were worried about the weather. The airport was fogged in and the wind was picking up....

After an hour+ of sitting on the plane waiting to depart, the flight was cancelled. Arrangements were made and everyone was sent back to town to spend the night and try the next day.

Long lines at the airport the next day.... unhappy passengers.... and as we finally approached the ticket counter to check in, I asked my spouse for the tickets and he didn't have them. And, I didn't have them. And, we looked through everything and zip. Finally we are at the ticket counter and I'm struggling to explain in my rudimentary Spanish. The ticket agent reached in his pocket and pulled out our lost tickets. Apparently, in the rush to get in the vans the day before, I had dropped the tickets and some one turned them in. Imagine, tickets probably worth 2 months salary to most folks there, and someone turned them in and the agent was keeping his eye out for us. What a miracle.


Here's another Mexico story. It starts off bad but has a good ending. Or something.

Me and my good buddy Britt had just returned from sea and had a few days off from our Navy duties. We decided to ride our Hondas south and spend a few days in Baja with no specific destination in mind. We'd gotten our back-from-sea "urges" taken care of in San Diego and now we just wanted to relax in a quiet place and converse about post-Navy plans, life and women - not necessarily in that order. We found Colonia Guerrera, a sleepy town that a one-legged turtle could walk across in about 15 minutes. As an added bonus, they turned their electricity off each evening at about 9:00 PM.   Perfect!

Our second day in town, we were enjoying a dinner of ceviche and beer at one of the 3 sit-down restaurants in town. Our bikes were out front and our helmets were hanging from the handlebars. Not too smart of us. After a few minutes, Britt looks out the window, jumps up and causes me to spill ceviche liquid all over my lap and yells something about my helmet being gone. At the same time, the waitress is running to our table and screaming something in Spanish far too fast for me to understand about "ladrones maricones" and "tu casco" and pointing at an old black pick-up that was speeding away. I ran out to my bike and went after them without stopping to realize that there wasn't a damn thing I could do when I caught up to them. Fortunately, it didn't progress to that point as the dust they were kicking up flew right into my eyes (no helmet = no face shield) so I turned around to rejoin Britt at the restaurant.

By now, everyone in the place knew what had happened and were apologizing to me. The waitress was on the verge of tears. Babies were crying. Old ladies were fainting. Dogs were yelping and blind men were able to see. The plastic Jesus salt shaker on my table up-righted itself. A big man grabbed me by the arm, "Vamanos gringo!", dragged me to his truck and we went looking for the ladrones. I yelled at Britt to stay with the bikes but he was tending the fainted ladies and probably didn't hear me. So me and The Man, whose name I never learned, lit out into the Mexican night in search of lost motorcycle accessories and (hopefully) danger, both real and imagined. Well - at least imagined.

To make a long story short, we never found the helmet or the pick-up truck. I never finished my ceviche. The restaurant owner refused to allow me and Britt to pay for our dinner. So we tipped the hell out of them to cover the cost of our meals. The next morning, we had breakfast at a different restaurant and people I'd never seen before came up to our huevos rancheros-laden table to express their sorrow for what had happened the night before. A little girl about 5 years old gave me a pack of Chiclets. Just walked up to me, dropped them in my shirt pocket, smiled and walked away. As we headed back north to San Diego and all things familiar, including our dreaded submarine, we rode past the restaurant from the night before. The waitress was out front. We waved to her, she blew me a kiss. At least I like to think it was for me and not Britt. For a brief second, I entertained the fantasy of romance and a peaceful life in Mexico and....well okay, back to San Diego. And oh yeah - Britt's motorcycle had a small windshield on it so he loaned me his helmet for the long ride north so that I would have some eye protection.

Whenever I'm not in Mexico, I think about my next trip to Mexico. I love it there. I like the food, the music, the language, the pace of life and most of all, the people. I miss having easy access to the country, I miss my bike and I miss the smell of tortillas. I miss being 23 years old. And, 14 years later, Britt's still a damn good guy.

John Harper   AA5YX/2
YashicaMat 124G Info Page:   http://home.att.net/~j..harper

We were on our way to the airport with a rent-a-car, and stopped for breakfast. On our way out, we saw our car on a towtruck. Apparently there was a footrace, and they were clearing the street (we did not see any signs). We rushed up and talked to the tow truck driver, who was not sympathetic. The sergeant came over, explained this situation to us, and asked if we had our keys. The sergeant told the towtruck driver to lower the car, and told us to drive away. We shook his hands with a muchas gracias, and drove to the airport. So don't assume that you will have a problem just because a cop has stopped you. This happened to be in Los Mochis.


Wife and I were in Playacar and I was dying for tamales. We asked around and was told to go to this local restaurant (El Chino, I believe) and so we did. But we didn't see tamales mentioned anywhere on the menu and the waiter explained that tamales were regarded as "common folk's food" and only sold by street vendors. I guess he saw the disappointment in our eyes because he told us to come back the next day. The next night we stopped by the restaurant, the waiter hopped on a bus, went downtown, bought us the tamales, came back and served them to us in the restaurant and charged us what they cost him ($2 for six tamales). We left a huge tip.

It's these little incidents that endear Mexico and its people to our hearts.


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