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Monday, November 21, 2011

Willie Fantastic Adventure

Monday evening
We are now sitting in the parking lot of the immigration area – it is almost 5 o’clock. Today has been a day of many emotions. From the lowest to the highest. Right now we are both kind of amazed, numb, happy and grateful to the Mexican police. Especially the Policia Municipal of Nogales – the city police. Sorry it's so long but there was a lot to tell.
We left Amado around 8 o’clock. There were storm clouds on the horizon but never got any rain.
Getting near the border crossing on Mariposa Rd.
The truck crossing just west of the city of Nogales. We cross here every year and it is usually pretty uneventful. No problems leaving the US just the usual questions: more than $10,000?  [I wish], guns? Where are you going? etc. And this time we didn’t have to pull over to have the x-ray check us. On our way. To the first toll booth. They get you quick.
For the last few years we’ve been watching the Mexicans build this new entry point.
This year it is finished. But it not really clear where a big RV is to go. The RV in front of us was in the wrong lane and the official wanted him to back up. Don’t think so. Bill managed to get us in the far right lane the right one. But it was very narrow too – our mirrors just barely cleared the posts. They just waved us through.
So south to Kilometer 21 where we would get our vehicle permits and tourist cards.
Gathered everything up and went first to fill out paper work for tourist cards – this year they filled them out for us. Then on to the bank with a receipt to pay for the tourists cards. Then back to first place to get the actual cards then copies of them. The tourist cards were about US$20 apiece. The copies about $2 for five copies. Then back to the bank to do the paper work for the Jeep. Alfie has his ten year permit that is still good. By now about an hour had passed just standing in lines. And the wind picked up and was starting to get colder. Wish I’d gone back to Alfie to get a jacket. Our turn up front. About US$50 for the temporary permit for the Jeep AND this year a deposit of US$300 to be returned when leaving and turning in the vehicle permit. Deposit can go on a credit card. A little after 10 o’clock and back to the Alfa. I went inside to use the facilities – when I came out Bill was standing at the door. He said, “We have a problem.”
“The Jeep is gone.”
“What do you mean gone?”
“Gone. Some one has stolen it.”  Of  course I had to jump out and run to the back to make sure he wasn’t joking. He wasn’t. The hitch was sitting on the ground with nothing attached to it. Talk about a sinking feeling. And we had bought locking pins in Vegas and returned them because they just barely didn’t fit through the holes and we didn’t have a strong enough drill to enlarge the holes. SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! Talk about a sinking feeling.
So back to the immigration offices to see if there were police there. Nope but they got right on the phone and called them. In just a couple of minutes a Policia Municipal truck with its lights flashing pulled up to us. (And we’d just paid a US$300 deposit on it – that we couldn’t get back until we took the Jeep out of the country!!!!!)
We walked with the police back to the Alfa and showed them the empty space and hitch. Showed them the paper work and registration. Gave them a description and a picture of Willie. OH WILLIE!
We had three policemen helping us. Then they said we needed to go to Nogales to fill out reports etc. So we got in their truck for the ride. In the mean time they called for more policemen to come and stay in the lot and make sure the Alfa wasn’t disturbed. All the way into the station they were getting more information from us and talking on their radios. Bill told them that there was only about 15 miles worth of gas in the tank as we had planned on filling up here in Mexico.
We got to the station and sat down and gave all the information again. Papers were filled out. Everyone was very very concerned and helpful. While one policewoman was filling out the paper work Bill called the insurance company. Sanborns Mexican Insurance – the insurance just went into effect at 6 o’clock this morning.  All this time we both thought we’d never see Willie again and wondered if the police really could do anything. We’ve had cars stolen in the US [California] and never seen them again – and they really aren’t a high priority for the police there.
The police woman just filled out the first set of paperwork. From her we went to the Stolen Vehicle police detective. Again more information asked and given. More paper work on a computer was filled out. While we were sitting there the adjuster from Sanborns tracked us down at the station. WOW. He started taking information too. By now a ream of paper must have been used. Just as we were finally finishing up and Bill was signing the final paperwork the policewoman who took the first report came into the room. She was all smiles. “They found it,” she said as she gave us both a big hug.
“Where is it?” Bill asked. Just then through the window I saw Willie drive into the police department lot. “Oh My God! There he is.”
Every one was back into the small office talking at once. The Sanborns guy the police who had brought us to the department, and police who had just overheard our reports.
So out we went to take a look at Willie. He looked perfect – they had even put gas in him.
BUT – he had been emptied out. Bill’s hats, both our jackets and a blanket were gone. The glove compartment and center consol were empty. All the lettering off the windows was gone as was the cover off the spare wheel. And of course all the containers in the back with Bill’s extra tools and air compressor were gone. And the exterior turn signals.
But Willie was back. Everything else can be replaced. It will give Bill something to do when we get home.
We asked how they found him. One officer said he was driving around and saw him parked in front of a house. Because Willie is so distinctive looking he was hard to miss. The people from the house managed to get away but the police say they know who they are. So now I felt bad that I was thinking the police could care less. We are so impressed with the professionalism and helpfulness of the whole Policia Municipal of Nogales. Willie and the wonderful Policia Municipal policemen.
However – by now the people working the desks had gone home for the day and no amount of begging could change that. We would have to return to police station in the morning to finish all the FOUND paper work. So back into a police truck and a ride back to Alfie. Sure enough there was a police guard in the lot and will remain most of the night. When he leaves all the cameras in the lot will come on with a direct link to the Federales right next door. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 some one will come pick us up to take us back to finish paper work and pick up Willie.
We also found out that the minute the police were told Willie was gone the tourist permit was revoked and the deposit returned to us. So the police told Bill he needed to go to the vehicle permit window again and get a new permit. As he walked up to the window the girl that had helped us the first time – many hours ago – was so happy that Willie was back. It seems that everyone - the tourist card issuer man, the copy man and every one in the permit department knew Willie had been taken on an unauthorized adventure and had come back to us safe and sound.
So here we sit tonight in the parking lot with the generator running so I can go on line and let everyone know what happened.
So are we still going south into Mexico – YES. If anything this has reinforced our delight in this country. Everyone we interacted with today was caring, helpful and professional.
And the outcome was amazing. The jerk who stole the car could live in any country.
Tomorrow we will go as far as Hermosillo and then on to Huatabampito to spend a few days on the beach.
Thought we were going to have to go home there for a while.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an experience ! So glad the outcome was in your favor---hope the rest of your travels are fun and no more problems. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Bill !!