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Parking Tickets: Here and There
email this pageprint this pageemail usEd Schwartz - PVNN
April 22, 2010



There are two kinds of parking tickets. In the US, parking tickets are placed under the windshield wiper. In Mexico, they take your license plate away.
There are two kinds of parking tickets. The ones that the cops give out in San Francisco, California and the ones they give out in Sayulita, Mexico.

The ones in San Francisco are high priced and high tech. About $60 bucks for overstaying the meter. Lots more for a red zone or bus stop. You get a hand-held computer generated ticket and an envelope for the fine. It is placed under the windshield wiper.

If you don't pay, you get a reminder, then, if you still don't pay, the price goes up and up. They have your number, that is for sure. I assume that after a while, some law enforcers come up to your house, and boff you around until you pay up.

Then there is the parking ticket one gets in Sayulita. A few days ago, parking near Rollie's for breakfast, I parked in supposedly a no parking zone. Only I didn't see the sign because there was a tree in the way. When I came back, my license plate was taken away. That's how the cops do it down here. No ticket - just the plate. To get your plate back, you have to go somewhere and pay the ransom. "Somewhere" is the operative word. Where was this "somewhere?"

First, though, I had to endure Bambi dressing me down for this defection. I heard words like "stupid" and "dumb" a few times, but I tuned most of it out.

The next day I asked a few people what to do. These people included an attorney, a newspaper editor and three or four local merchants. The answers I got were varied I had to go to Guadalajara. I had to go to Puerto Vallarta. I had to go to the traffic office in Sayulita. Or, go to Las Juntas and so on. It was instructive to realize that there were no answers alike. I had to choose.

I wrote off Guadalajara - four hours away. Hell, that's in the state of Jalisco and the offense took place in the state of Nayarit. Ditto Puerto Vallarta. Wrong state.

So, I went to the traffic office in Sayulita. It was in a run-down, ugly building, chained up tightly. One merchant told me that the office was closed. Another told me to come back at 10 am the next day. When I came back at 10 am, no dice. Another merchant told me I was whistling in the dark, no cops had been there for months. I now envisioned myself spending the rest of my life in a Mexican prison.

The next day, I went back to the ugly station with a book to read while I waited it out. Then, I spotted a police SUV. I ran over and stopped him. He didn't speak English, but I did a lot of pointing and shoulder shrugging. He told me I was in luck. There was a nice-looking local cop within 100 feet and he would help me.

So, I went over to him, with the most soulful look I could muster. I explained my plight in sign language, pointing to the empty license-plate holder. He whipped out his cell phone, walked away a few steps and made a call.

A minute later he came back to me with a smile on his face and with good news. The cops hadn't taken my plate - there was no record of my plate at the traffic office, wherever that was, it had merely been stolen. He told me that I only needed one plate; that plates get stolen all the time. Why, he did not tell me. Good. No jail time for me, but I promise to look around the next time I park. As they say down here, "That's Mexico."

Ed Schwartz has been involved in many aspects of fine wine for 30 years and has worked with top wineries in California, Italy and France. His writings on wine, food and travel have appeared in the SF Chronicle, LA Times and Image magazine.

Click HERE for more articles by Ed Schwartz



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