Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What happened to Roark in Mexico?

Well, first off, I went scuba diving with friends in Cozumel, relaxed at the beach with Lia and Reia, and ate some good Mexican food.  It turned out to be a fun trip.  
But it didn't start out that way.  The first two days were pretty terrible, as I spent most of it in the Cancun jail.  The only bag I did not pack especially for this trip was a bag of first aid items and basic tools for emergencies.  I usually keep it in my truck and I decided to throw it in my scuba diving bag so I would have it on the boat.  It turns out that also inside was some cheap, steel 9mm practice ammo that I had forgotten about.  
I was foolish, careless, and know better than to do this, but it is also something that could happen to almost anyone, and it turns out that the city of Cancun alone has 3 of these cases per week.  They might even fund their government on Americans running around with bullets in their luggage.
Had I sifted through the contents of that bag, I would have seen them and taken them out.  But I didn't. This is a huge problem for the Mexican customs inspection.  They told me three things: not only is having them in the country a bad thing, but importing them from outside is especially bad, and since this is a caliber reserved exclusively for the military, it makes it worse.  
I actually think this last one was bluster on their part since anyone whose been caught with ammo of any caliber goes through more or less the same thing I did.  
What did I go through?  The first several hours were waiting and answering questions.  Everyone was pretty respectful and I got no bad treatment and only one customs guy gave me dirty looks.  I never even saw a pair of handcuffs the whole time I was there.  But then it was 11pm, and time to go to my "special room." When they called it this, and by judging by the clean, well built nature of the government building I was eventually transferred to, I had probably fooled myself into thinking the place where I would sleep that night would be more like a cheap hotel than a jail cell.  But I was wrong.
The holding area had one row of six cells, each with bunk beds, a sink, and toilet.  There was no window; only an opening 15 feet up to vent the hot air, which there was a lot of.  The whole room smelled like what you would expect from a place where hundreds of men come every month to sit and sweat in the Cancun heat.  Thankfully it didn't smell like a toilet, but it did smell, and it was dirty. 
There was no mistreatment in the jail, no shivs, no shower scenes (there were no showers), so no, I didn't get raped (I was King of the Yard baby). Just a lot of waiting and sweating.  Luckily I never had a cell mate which was a plus. It was a test of mental toughness, but thanks to my skills of manipulation and a little pretending to be the naive Guero, I did a few things outside the normal procedure to make it easier, like using the nice administrative bathrooms when I could, taking hippie showers in there, and I managed to get my phone into the cell, if for nothing else than to keep track of the passing hours.
Eventually, thanks to the tireless effort of my fantastic wife, sister, brother, mother and aunts, and after two days and nights of working with the authorities, and after paying a few hundred dollars in bail and fines, and a few thousand for a lawyer (who almost certainly used that to buy the DA, a judge, the Customs guys, etc) I got out, gave Lia and Reia some big sweaty hugs and kisses, had a shower, shaved, and met everybody at our bungalow on the island.  I managed to get 5 dives in before we left and they were beautiful.  
Another thing worth mentioning is that in this whole debacle I kept Gore out of the picture as much as possible.  Some of our group I was traveling with contacted Associates in the Legal group and some of the technical leadership.  That is to be expected but I did try to keep Gore’s involvement to a minimum.  Whenever the authorities asked me who I work for, I didn’t answer, or just told them I am an engineer.  When they asked what “GMU” stood for on the backpack I was carrying, I declined to answer (It's a Gore acronym).  This was very much on purpose.  
I have a lot of thoughts on what transpired, what it all means, and what the implications are.  The biggest personal change I will make is certainly to be more careful when packing for a trip (duh).   Mostly this experience served to solidify much of what I already believe.  Any country whose justice system works on a principle of guilty until proven innocent needs, to say the very least, a little adjustment, but I would also consider gathering up all the people who work for their extremely corrupt government and launching them straight towards the Sun.  


JamesW said...

I think this story is a complete fabrication!

Ricky Ricardo said...

Wow nice story man !!
diving bag