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108# Habanero corruption

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

- There is a car coming

- Shit! Stay still...

The Mexican Police is corrupt to the bone. In the North, most policemen get their bread buttered by the cartels. In the rest of the country they feed off innocent and guilty tourists alike. In Puerto Escondido, the Police is malevolent and cunning. Marco had to pay a huge bribe to avoid jail… for a joint butt. They use any excuse they could find or create, to intimidate and extort tourists. Locals agree that one should stay away from the Police. Wise travelers listen to locals.

Mazunte was so remote it had no police or cartels; complete freedom. Beside mosquitoes and Dengue, there was nothing to worry about. Now that James, Sally, Penelope had left, I spent most of my time with Karleen. The year before, Marco and I stumbled on a secluded beach. It was wild and beautiful, so isolated you could only stay if you were self-sufficient. I invited Karleen to join me and la Chichona on a surf trip. Three days camping in the wilderness. What could be better to make or break a shaky relationship?

My little paradise was three hours South of Mazunte. A gorgeous cliff overlooked the bay. From the top you could see parallel lines hitting and wrapping around the rock, unfolding a smooth long point-break. Locals had built a large Palapa on the hill and a cute little church on the edge of the cliff. There was nothing but wildlife, sand and sea. It was my favorite spot in all of Mexico.

We followed the long and winding dirt road and picked up ripen mangos from the ground. I parked la Chichona in front of the Palapa and opened the back doors on the sea. The wave, the beach, the bay were solely for us. Karleen tanned naked - a German thing - and we spent the afternoon on the beach. We had supplies for three days. Good food, condoms, alcohol and weed, ready to have the time of our lives. Three days in paradise.

We built a fire to make diner and watch the sunset. I always cook too much while camping, to have leftovers. By the time we finished eating, the stars shone bright in the moonless night. The crackling of the fire and the loud washing of waves kept us company. We cooked the infamous vegetarian tacos and hung out by the fire. I started rolling a joint in my hat when a pickup truck appeared from behind, blinding us with its lights. I slowly moved the hat to the side of the chair, away from the light. Three policemen walked up to us.

- Good evening!

- Good evening gentlemen! Are you three from here?

- Yes, we are the municipality Police.

- Great! So you are locals, true Oaxacan from this region, right?

- Yes, we're from the village

- Glad to meet you. Are you gentlemen hungry?

- …

- You GOTTA try this! It’s a new taco recipe. I’m a chef experimenting with Mexican cuisine. I’d love your opinion, as true Oaxacans. Be honest please.

I stood up and reached for the pan. The weight helped steady my shaky hand. I grabbed a plate and prepared a taco for the cop, with mango and habanero oil. I handed the plate to the fattest of the three and stared at him with insistence.

- The moment of truth. Tell me what you think

- What kind of taco is it?

- It’s a surprise. Guess!

He didn’t think twice. The other two were watching Karleen, calm as still water.

- "Muy rico!" The fat cop exclaimed.

- See! I told you it was good. It's a vegetarian meal!!!

- We don’t have much left unfortunately. If I knew we had a special visit I would have made more, sorry.

- It’s all good, thank you.

The oldest stepped in.

- Did you see or hear anything strange since you were here? Any light from the sea, any boat?

- No, we just arrived today. This is our first night. Why, is it unsafe?

- No, we patrol here everyday.

- Thank you. It is such a paradise. Mexico is the most beautiful country.

- It’s nice to hear that. We’re resuming our patrol. Have a nice evening!

- Thank you, and thank you again for protecting us!

And just like that, they faded in the night, silent as a shadow. I fell back on my chair, my heart still bouncing against my chest. I took a deep breath and exhaled all the fear from my body. It could have gone terribly wrong if not for the good food.

Good food can corrupt anyone.

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