Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Saga Of B's Stolen Car - CHAPTER 2 Sept 2010

My friend B had her car stolen in Guadalajara,
this is her follow-up.
Excellent information and tips for everyone who drives
a car in Mexico.

In her own words:

Me again.

Even if you don't want to read the rest of this saga, please see the part near the end about NAMES on car documents vs. personal I.D. I'm sure it applies to foreign cars as well as Mexican-plated and could save you a lot of grief.
After waiting for a few days (plus mega-puente), and checking by phone first (as instructed  by the Procuradia de Justicia office on Independencia) to see that my file had arrived, off to the P de J in the zona industriál. The friend who drove me elected to wait in the car (covered parking).

Had been told to get there around 1:00, but on the phone was advised 2:00 is enough. Arrived at 2:03 and was directed to the correct area of the building by receptionist who was handing out "visitor" tags to a lot of people but did not offer me one. Lucky I could read the sign that indicated "if you are not nearby when your name is called from the list, you miss your turn" -- so I knew there was a list! Find list in strangely vacant office dedicated solely to stolen cars. Am number eleven. Many people in the hall, 95% Mexican men who look a little askance at this out-of-place female with no male "protector". Not nearly enough seating, but am offered a chair.

Time drags by, more people arrive and sign in, and crowd gets restless. At 3:15 some staff members straggle along and enter the office. (Turns out we have been waiting for the "afternoon shift" -- 3 - 10 pm.) Around 3:25 a man calls our names in order, a few at a time, and we line up so a staff person can transcribe our name, claim number, and brand of vehicle into a registry log. Go back into the hall and wait. In a while  the first on the list are called. Worried about my friend (now waiting in her car over 1 1/2 hours) and ask if I can leave to advise her of what's happening. Am assured I have time. Exit building from the side into a large parking lot. Walk the entire lot but can't find her car! Ask at the gate (police-type guard with very large gun). No, this is Staff Parking. Public parking is next door. Find her next door and she elects to come in with me.

Start to enter same gate I just left. Guard steps across, gun at the ready. Where are you going? (Like, you can't remember an older foreign lady with bright colored outfit from 3 minutes ago?) Show him my claim sheet and say we're just going back in to wait. Where is your Visitors badge? They didn't give me one at the desk. (very politely, with  big smile)  Big scowl. How can this be?? But evidently he decides a couple of skinny old gringa ladies can't be much threat, so allows us to pass!

No chairs again (by now there are more than 40 names on the list) so we lean on the wall until father and son offer us their seats. Since I have had nothing to eat or drink since 8:00 a.m. (overlong wait for doctor appt. before this one) but have been afraid to seek out anything for fear of losing my place, I gratefully accept. Young man walks by selling greasy-looking donuts. Buy one. It's awful, but better than nothing. Five desks are serving people,  but it seems to take a very long time per person.

4:45 p.m. It's my turn!!  (Remember -- I'm no. 11. At least 30 people are going to be after me.) Am directed to a desk occupied  by a very short young man who turns out to be pleasant, co-operative, and nice. A while into the conversation he asks if I would rather speak English? Yes, at this point, you bet! All seems to be going well, as we once again enter many details into the computer (different report than the last time), verify carefully each number in the serial and engine numbers, and add more personal details than the other day. Then disaster strikes.

Oh, Señora, I think we have a problem. The name on your original factura (title) and the name on your identification do not match. I will have to check with the manager. Manager is not a nice man. He is harried, and has either been passed over for promotion or simply hates his job. He is very unsympathetic, bordering on rude, as he stridently informs me that it is obvious I might not be the person on the title. In fact I could be anyone OTHER than the person on the title. Eyes flash, voice gets louder, and I know when to retreat. I don't let the jefe see I'm on the verge of a little sniffle, but turn to the young man and ask in English OK. How do we fix this?

Apparently it's the law that the factura (and I presume car registration for foreign-plated vehicles) and your ID must match perfectly. In our case, the factura has first names, middle initials, and last name. (Car is owned jointly) ID has first, middle ,and last names complete. So now I'm instructed that I'll have to go to the dealership (near Zapopan cathedral) where we bought the car, taking original factura plus ID for each of us, and get a "Fe de Erratas" -- a stamp of some nature plus a seal on the front body of the factura, with our names as they should be. Then I'll have to return to P de J and we can start the dance over again! (For a while they were going to make me do the same thing with the tenencia certificate -- different gov't office, more red tape -- but finally decided it was not necessary.)

Immediately (but with class) go into my "older woman, no car, have to find friends to bring me back to town, do I have to be here another 3 hours..." mode, and the results are that he sympathetically offers (and does) to complete all the work he needs to do in the computer and put it on hold until I can return next week. After all, I'm probably older than his abuela! Then, if I get there a little after 3:00  and make sure (1) my name is on the list and (2) he sees that I am there, he'll call me in right away, finish up what he needs to do, and give me the copia certificada right then and there so I don't have to come back again. For now I have to trust him, hope he shows up for work that day,and plan to wear exactly the same clothes I wore today as a memory jogger for him.

Next day, just to be sure, call the car dealership. Get a very suspicious young lady in customer service who has hard time understanding the problem. Finally says I will have to FAX  a copy of factura, and both ID.s Then they will decide if and when I can come in! Do cover letter (in Spanish) hoping to explain better and send  fax. Since I'm doing it at 3 p.m. there is nobody manning the fax machine because they are closed for comida break, so call  later and ask for English-speaker to be sure we all understand each other. After some time we establish that all is well, both persons are not required (but both ID's are) and I can go next Wednesday (except for comida break).  Works for me, as I need to be on the "list" again that day (other end of town) by 3:00 at the latest.......

Apart from being exhausted by 5:15 when we finally headed back to my friend's car, it was yet another experience to drop into the Mexican Adventure file. I'm sure hoping next Wednesday goes as planned...........and still have the "baja de placas" to look forward to, but at least that's in Chapala.

Wish me luck!

Good luck B!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Things That Make You Go Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. . . Sept 2010

Well, in the beginning. . .

Photo by Gail Adams - Jocotepec

. . .there were artists. . .

Photo by Gail Adams - Jocotepec

. . .then there were whimsical chairs
and a fountain. . .

Photo by Gail Adams - Jocotepec

. . .and families came. . . 
. . .and kids played.
Photo by Marty Redmond - Jocotepec

Photo by Marty Redmond - Jocotepec

The beloved works of art
on the malecón in Jocotepec.

Then there was this!

Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.
A memory in the minds of those who knew it.

They simply vanished.

Apparently they needed more room for the dancers
in a recent Folklórico Ballet.

So, they were moved, relocated, stored away for later use,

. . .NOT! 

Photos from the wonderful Joco magazine:

Irrevocably DEMOLISHED! 
They say, a member of our governing body
ordered this.
You'd be astonished to know what his title is!

Distinguished gentlemen
of the Jocotepec Administration,
may we have our artwork back?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Saga Of B's Stolen Car Sept 2010

We have a guest blogger today!

My friend B had her car stolen in Guadalajara
last week.
In her own words:
Hi friends

Well, Friday started out pretty well, but when I exited the IMSS hospital in Guad ( doctor appt.) I was totally dumbfounded too see the empty space across the (very busy) street where I had left our car 1 1/2 hours before! At first I could not even react. Then I didn't really know what to do next. All the insurance documents (including phone numbers etc.) were in the car, since I always knew it might be in an accident but never dreamt it would get stolen! (That's why we left the dents it had suffered when parked in three different places -- hoping it would be a deterrent! haha) I didn't even have the phone number of the insurance agent in Riberas.

Some guys at the taxi queue said they would flag down a cop so we could report the licence plates, but of course none were to be seen. Finally one of them convinced me we should go to the Procuraduria de Justicia to file the report (required). We opted for the closer one of two, in the industrial district, and of course when we got there (in the pouring rain) they said "oh no, you can't report stolen cars here .. you have to go downtown to the main office".

Off we went, flagging down a police truck along the way while stopped at a red light near Parque Azul so the taxi driver could show the cops my little registration card and they could post the plates on their radio. Arriving at the P de J, we parked the cab in a parking lot (haha) and were told by someone "official" that before we could file the report we would have to go to a pay phone, call 066, and get a report number from the national cop's hot line. I had a phone card, but reading all the info back and forth along side Calz. Independencia (very major roadway) in mid'day traffic was no easy task.

Back in the P de J, report number in hand, they then asked for "enlarged" copies of my ID and the little car ID car that comes annually from the state. (I must add here that they visibly brightened when they saw my Mexican voter's card, signifying citizenship!) Go across to Farmacia Guadalajara they said. Sure. They don't do enlargements. Neither did the next 4 copy places (all nearby) but finally there was one who could. Now back to the P de J. Get a form to fill out. Do that. Come back, and while waiting for the next move go out (on the street again) and call A. to tell him why I'm not home, and to notify the insurance agent!

Now get sat in front of a woman at a computer who (1) was a worse typist than I am and (2) seemed quite new on the job. In her computer up came a complaint "form" -- which in Mexico means a tremendously long, wordy, document with lots of extraneous text. Does it have places to fill in the requisite info! Don't be silly! This is a complete deposition from SOMEONE ELSE'S CAR THEFT! What she has to do is go line by line, deleting out the wrong info and adding mine at the appropriate places!

Since she can't type she makes a lot of errors (lucky I can see the screen and can show her), and she has a really bad time with long series of numbers/letters like serial number, engine number. etc. Then of course she gets REALLY confused by my name (Mexicans have two last names -- one from father's side, one from mother's) so I have to help her a lot with that one.

Some very long time later we are done, and she prints the complaint for me to proof read. (front and back
of 8 1/2 x 13 page!!) Since it's OK she prints more and I sign my life away. Then I get another form from her with a new official number on it, and instructions that I learn later I didn't fully understand, and we're done. For now.......

Somewhere along the way in this odyssey I cut a deal with the taxi driver to bring me all the way home, as I was not in shape by now to go to the bus depot and take the bus. So the next stop was the Nissan dealer where I was now 2 hours late for my appt. to have the windshield wiper mechanism changed. They were very compassionate, and even agreed to give me back the 600 pesos deposit I had left with them in Wed towards this service (the receipt being in the glove compartment of the car!).

Taxi driver was a really nice guy who, it turned out, had lived and worked in Seattle (cook in two major hotels) 12 years before. He has only been driving a cab 2 years, and remarked that I seemed to know the city better than he did!  haha  Since he learned almost no English in the hotel kitchens, our conversations (as with all the others) were totally in Spanish.

Later at home I talked to a Mexican friend who was aghast that the insurance agent told A. they would get the adjuster out Monday to do his report. She seemed certain you have to do this in the first 24 hours, so I got out my payment receipt, went online, and found an 800 number. They were great, and sent a man out from the city within   90 minutes. During that conversation, I learned that I have to return to the city (how?) with
the car's original invoice as well as the original annual registration etc. payment ONLY from 2 - 4:30, and preferably next Wednesday! I'll learn more about this tomorrow when I go to the agency here.

Now, of course, comes the hard part. Car rentals are very expensive here, but as it happens our old VW is still owned by the mechanic who bought it 6 years ago and he will rent it back to us at a not-bad price! I've spent house on line already shopping possible makes / models, and all we have to do is figure out when and how we can get to the city to shop!

Two things in our favor -- (1) we were within days of buying new tires, and (2) there is a Car Expo in a couple of weeks in Guad with all makes and models represented, so we will be finding a way to go there for sure. Not having had any idea of changing cars, we pay no attention so are really in a fog about this.

You can probably imagine I'm still not functioning on all burners, but thought you might get a kick out of this latest "Mexican experience".              

Next step will be to take original plus four copies of car invoice, this year's tenencia payment, and my I.D. to the FIRST office of the P de J in Guad, in order to get a "copia certificada". That's the easy part. The hard part is I can ONLY go between 2 - 4:30 (but you have to get there early because they give out numbered tickets) and I have to do a really good job of pleading with them to give me this certificate the same day (usually not done) because I live outside of the city and it will be so hard for me to return, or else there will be a return trip (and another "take a number"....). And of course that office is nowhere near anywhere that a person would want to include in their plan for the day.

Then more originals plus the certificate in hand, I go to Hacienda in Chapala where they do a "baja de placas" to remove us from any liability to do with misuse of the plates. What about prior?? Insurance co. says because the theft is in the P de J computer, we will be alright. (Is that like "Trust Me"?)

After that, I suppose (??) after the mandatory 30 days to search for the car has expired, I go to the insurance agent with original factura and five years of original tenencia payments, and all the keys we have to the car. (Good thing I've learned to squirrel stuff away!) Then the insurance company starts to process the claim, and at some distant time in the future we get a small amount of dinero .......

Meanwhile it's really fun car shopping when (1) you are busy out here nearly all day every day,  (2) you have no way to get to the car lots, and (3) you have no idea what you want to buy / can afford! Spending a lot of time on line, plus driving around in places like Walmart checking out car models in the parking lot! haha

¡Suerte, B!
Posted with her permission.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Chink In The Armor Sept 2010

Mexican Trailrunner will be down for the count for a little while.

Seems I have developed an illness that is taking a
little time to get under control,
but I'll be on the road to recovery SOON!

I've got a new doctor - who has a clue -
and he's taking good care of me.

See you again soon with
ALL the gory details.

Meantime, amigos,
stay tuned for more on life south of the border.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm. . . Sept 2010



Apparently, these handmade whimsical chipped-tile chairs 
- and fountain that the kids played in during the hot weather -
were in the way when they recently
held a Folklorio Ballet at the malecón
here in Jocotepec.

So they ripped them out.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Los Angeles Verdes - The Green Angeles Sept 3

Photo courtesy Señor Google

More years ago than I want to divulge,
while hitching a ride from one Mexican Pacific
beach town to another,
we came upon a wreck on the highway.

A VW bus with a middle aged American couple
had rear-ended a pipa (peé pa) that was stopped on the roadway
without warning.
Hardly anything unusual about that.

A pipa is a Mexican water tank truck.
The water is not potable but the truck delivers
it for folks to store at their homes.

This particular one had about 3 feet of pipe and spigot
protruding from the back of it.
That spigot and pipe end was now firmly embedded
in the front seat of the VW bus.
Exactly between the knees of the woman sitting there.
This was the luckiest day of her life.
We stopped to see if we could help.

About 10 minutes later a dark green utility truck
pulled up with 2 very professional and friendly guys,
who turned out to be Los Angeles Verdes.

Photo courtesy Señor Google
First, they stopped a small bleed for
the woman then called Cruz Roja to come and check
them out.

Then they told them where to go in the next town
to get the car fixed and find a place to stay.

I was pretty impressed.

Today, they  continue to roam the highways and toll roads
of Mexico on the lookout for stranded travelers.

If you are in need of the Green Angeles,
pull over and lift your hood.
Then find a seat in the shade
and wait for one to come by.
Or you can call their national 3 digit number

 Each unit is assigned a length of highway or road
to patrol per shift.
The lengths are long and the units have to complete
each direction in a 12 hour period.
They are crack mechanics and can get you back on the road
with a bobby pin.
Of course, they carry gasoline, motor oil, coolant, hoses,
belts, and other essentials to get you mobile.
They're REALLY cool.

Today, as back then, they are funded and operated
by Mexico's Department of Tourism.
Their service is free but tips are
graciously accepted and appreciated.

Some speak English and they are
quick to say they are not medical —
but no doubt they have saved many lives in the course
of their existence.

This is their spiffy new look:

Photo courtesy Señor Google