Team Mordida

Carol "The Mordida King" I will always remember Mexico fondly as the first place that I bribed a police officer.

Truthfully, it was a team effort involving, Carol, my parents who were visiting, a car borrowed from a friend and myself (hover over photos for team names).

We parked in front of a restaurant in La Paz. Carol left the restaurant early to check on the truck. As we were paying, the person at the front of the restaurant told me there was a problem with where we were parked. I went outside and saw a line of cars with tickets on them and a police officer talking to Carol.

Sneaky Mike It turns out that the officer had ticketed everyone equally but had decided to wait in front of the car with California plates - to encourage us to "pay now". With our limited Spanish comprehension, his limited English and a lot of gesturing, he told us the ticket would cost 1000 pesos if we went to the station (most definitely a lie) but that we could pay $50USD now and he would tear up the ticket.

Carol got into the spirit of things, seeing that the position of power had altered with the officer's introduction of the topic of a bribe, and began bargaining. They agreed upon $25. When presented with the money the officer tried to reopen the bargaining for $40 but we stood firm at the agreed upon $25. This was, we figured, the price of a parking ticket back in Victoria and surely a substantial portion of his income, making it a reasonable deal for everyone.

"Bad Cop" Valerie We got some flack from a local who was upset that tourists pay the bribes because the people living them are trying to eliminate them. What she wanted us to have done was to have followed the officer to the station. I see her point but we were not interested in following the officer around town or in waiting several hours at the station to pay a substantially lesser fine. We also had a bit of gringo fear at getting any further involved with the police or visiting a police station. This, of course, the officer could have guessed as well.

More exciting than most tourist attractions, we paid $25 to ride the "Mordida Coaster". Good job Team Mordida!


  1. Appalling. Paying these bribes does nothing more than encourage further graft and corruption. Whatever credibility you might have thought you gained from your green ways, you've lost with this effort.

  2. I'm not sure I follow your train of thought - credit? with whom? for what green ways?

    I agree that paying bribes encourages corruption.

  3. Not really all that "appalling"

    I "came across" this way back in 1984 in Rosarito Beach (Baja Norte) while I was post doc student (in San Diego). Police officer even corrected me by showing how to "properly" hand over the US$20... (FYI: we deserved to be pulled over...).

    Perhaps, now that I am (much) older and (hopefully) wiser, I would do this differently and go to the police station. But who knows until you are actually faced with the situation.

    Thanks for this informative (and honest) post!

  4. Yes, the correct thing would have been to go to the police station...but this way was a much better story. :)



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