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March 27, 2011
We still had a lot to do at our construction site but despite that things kept getting busier. Our medical services plan in B.C. had made and error and so was sending us to collections in our absence from home. We had plenty of proof that they made a mistake but it didn’t seem to matter since they’re a big organization and once the ball starts rolling it’s not an easy stop. We had to start collecting evidence, making phone calls and just generally wasting a lot of time and expense of dealing with these jokers. We discovered that they are in desperate need of some reorganization and some new tools to perform better. It ended with us having to pay a full month of our travel budget to MSP for their mistake, we may get it back in the future but it’ll take some time.
A sad and interesting thing happened to a friend of the family; he was/is 60 years old and was/is kidnapped. The ransom amount was staggering and he was likely targeted because of his affluence. The problem is most kidnappers here, in my opinion, are stupid and think that if you have wealth then you have cash. Any wealthy person worth their salt doesn’t have cash, relatively speaking, they have assets and liquidating those assets can be a difficult thing. Regardless, we looked for some options for the family if they would choose them and we turned to our friend John G., “A part of a worldwide network of FBI agents”, John has an investigations company on the east Coast of the USA and if you ever need his services then we recommend him, just let us know. Thanks John for your help in this situation and for the moral support, it is things like that which make a huge difference to the moral of travellers like us. Unfortunately the family did not take any of the advice or contacts we offered and chose to handle it, in my opinion, badly. For us, it’s just good to know that if shit ever hits the fan that we have professionals we can call on and a plan on what to do. It may not work out but hey, life is tough.
Because of our extended trip, my B.C. driver’s licence is expiring this year. That spells trouble should I get to a country where that is a good excuse to take your bike and give you a fine. The solution was to get a Mexican driver’s license to cover the gaps, to which I now have. It was as easy as standing in line, getting my picture and finger print and walking out, no tests, no questions, nothing. Now, I can officially drive like a Mexican! What was surprising was that the entire process took, more or less, two hours. This is incredibly efficient compared to Canadian standards. The disturbing part was that the level of selection or quality was non existent. Literally we just lined up and got a licence, so while the process was surprisingly smooth the explanation why peasants are driving cars is clear. When it comes to the majority of drivers in this country, “Common Knowledge” regarding driving does not exist. People literally don’t know they’re doing anything wrong and in fact if you obey the laws, which the police don’t know either, then you must be doing something wrong. Sad but true.
Check out some more pictures at www.mdholdings.blogspot.com
Finally in between all the mental, moral and physical labour at the construction site we had to deal with the legal and government issues. Corruption terrorists was the term I used to clear the froth from my mouth. In Mexico the corruption is so prevalent that people just accept it. We were told straight up that you’ll have to pay bribes to pretty much everyone otherwise you won’t get anything done. FOR THE RECORD, we have not directly paid a single bribe in this whole venture, to date. We had been morally terrorized about going to pay the medical and building insurance to the government organization known as IMSS. Our first stop, the top boss; we had an audience, explained our situation and the level of uncertainty including the non transparency of the fees owed. It turned out to be a long day with a whole team working on our process. The boss handled it professionally and his staff did very well. I would have to say that doing a pre-emptive strike is the way to go and that the reassurance for us was that this guy was not corrupt. At the lower echelon that may or may not be true but since the Director was watching very closely there was not a single hesitation to get the job done and we appreciated the effort afforded to us.
We are now at the cusp of leaving Mexico as our Visas are running out. That means no Cuba and no Yucatan. Sad for me but we’ll have to go there en route home. Instead we’ll head straight for Guatemala which is fine since I’ve come to believe on this trip that everything happens for a reason and whatever we’re heading into, good or bad, is for the good of our learning and we’re as ready as we will ever be.