One two three four five six seven eight. Eight cops…
The beach of Barra de la Cruz is an anomaly in Mexico. The locals manage it like a Swiss bank. It has a security guard, one restaurant, no garbage, and clean facilities. To enter, you pay a daily fee and get a receipt. The forthright system and the wave’s consistency attracted surfers from all around the world. Barra was always crowded.
I fled the herd and drove three hours to my secluded paradise. Under the large palapa were two couples chilling in camping chairs. They were Kiwis, friendly, and spoke enough Spanish to order tacos. I parked next to them and set up my gear. One beach, five hippies, three vans, eight surfboards, two hammocks, and a dog called Rodriguez.
Most nights, we had a visit from the local police. On the third day, the two Kiwi guys went spearfishing while the ladies and I prepared dinner. I was piling up wood when a pickup truck full of cops stopped by. They jumped from the back and assembled in a quick motion, forming a half a circle in front of us. Seven men and one lady. Most cops were my age except an old gentleman and a youngster. The youngster looked fifteen. He approached us alone. His peers were watching.
- Good afternoon
- Good afternoon!
- How are you doing?
- Very well thank you. How are you?
- I’m good thank you. How long have you been staying here?
- Me, two days.
I turned to the Kiwi girls and asked in English.
- Them, four days.
- I see, you did not have any trouble?
- No. We had visits from your colleagues at night but that’s it, why?
- Just checking. How did you pass the gate?
- It was open.
- Well, you need to pay a fee to stay here.
- Absolutely. I’ll get my wallet. Could you prepare me a receipt?
The young cop looked confused.
- A receipt. I’m happy to pay the fee to keep this place safe and clean, but I need a proof of payment.
- We can’t give you a receipt.
- Then how can I prove to your colleagues tonight that I had already paid?
He looked around. No one said a word. I added.
- I had paid the tourist fee to the Federal government when I entered Mexico. I can show you the receipt on my passport. This area belongs to the municipality of Santiago, correct?
- Eeeeeh yes.
- You guys have been doing a great job at keeping it safe, thank you. I hope it would become like Barra de la Cruz. You know Barra de la Cruz?
- Barra has a gate too, with a security guard. You pay 30 pesos to enter and the guard gives you a receipt. Every day, Barra collects over 1000 pesos just from that fee. Isn’t that brilliant?
- They use the funds to clean the beach and maintain the facilities. I saw the improvement here compared to last year. There are garbage bins now but people still throw garbage everywhere. We like this place and we try to keep it clean.
- Thank you. If you stay here, you must pay the fee.
- For sure, I’ll pay for all the days I’ve been here and even more to maintain this paradise. My friends as well I'm sure, but we need a proof that we paid. Otherwise, what’s the difference between you and a gangster with a gun?
The old man laughed out loud, others were giggling. It was my chance.
- Are you reporting to the Police Station of Santiago?
- Great! So, we can pay at the station and get our receipt there!
- If you’re on duty when I come, could you leave a note to your colleagues to prepare the receipt for me?
I stared at the lady and smiled. She smiled back.
- So... Monday morning? I’m planning to go to Chiapas around 8, will the police station be open?
- Great! I’ll come at 8:30 then. This way I’ll pay and be on my way. I’ll give you my name and the days I’ve been here so you can prepare the receipt in advance.
The young cop clutched for support the way a drowning man clutches for a rope. Nobody spoke. Finish him...
- Sir, since you’re here. Would you mind helping me carry water from my van? The can is over 20Kgs and I hurt my back the last time I tried alone.
- Sorry, we have to go.
- Oh… okay. So, Monday morning? Who should I ask for?
- Just come to the station.
- You want my name and ID to prepare the receipt?
- No, just come to the station.
- Okay, but please have it ready. It’s a long and dangerous drive to get to Chiapas, and look at my van.
The old man laughed.
- We really have to get going.
- Okay, well thank you for keeping us safe. See you on Monday!
The half circle dismantled and the cops walked back to their truck. They hopped in the back. The driver turned the engine on, and burdened by the youngster's shame, slowly drove away. I crossed my hands behind my head and waived them goodbye. Victory was tart and vicious. I smiled.
That's how you do it... bitch! Tadadadadaaaaaa ♩ ♪ ♫♬