For the past few years I have taken a ‘Sue Time Out’ and driven by myself to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. Here is this summer’s experience:
I got to the condo guard house at 3:30 p.m., which was a half-hour too early and the gate guard wouldn’t let me in…no problem. I decided to wait outside and see if I could get my phone to work, which is always a problem here. I went to get my phone out of my purse and …no purse!!! I knew I had it because I had used it – crossing border, showing passport for visa and paying pesos for all the tolls. So I knew it had to be in the car somewhere. Calmly I looked and looked . . . no purse. I then remembered stopping at the bathroom just after paying the toll at Hermosillo. And then I remembered hanging it on a hook in the stall. And then I didn’t recall getting it off. And THEN I panicked. My American money was in there along with some pesos, my driver’s license and passport, visa and two credit cards and my phone.
I knew the only hope I had was going back to Hermosillo (1.5 hrs away) and see if I could somehow track it down, without speaking a lick of Spanish. About 15 mins out of San Carlos there was a cop pulled over to the side of the road and I pulled over.
Thankfully, between him speaking a little bit of English and me doing sign language, he understood the crux of my problem. His best lawful words of wisdom were: “sometimes things happen for a reason.” He had a forlorn look on his face, I was getting freaked…more freaked! He then tried to reassure me that I wouldn’t need my license or visa or password because: “this is Mexico.”
I wasn’t getting anywhere with him and I pointed my finger to Hermosillo and said, “I’m going, thank you.” He then asked my name, preferring to call me Susanna. He put his hand up, like telling me to wait. He pointed to my yellow work legal pad beside me, opened it up and wanted to tear a blank piece out of it; I nodded that it was okay. He then began writing in Spanish and then he got a hand stamp out of his pocket and stamped it.
“Give this to anyone you talk to,” he said, handing it to me. I looked and the only words I could read were my name and his name that was on the stamp. In very broken English, I finally understand what he’s trying to tell me ….he has explained my problem in case I get pulled over, or whatever, on my way back to Hermosillo; it has his cell number on it as well.
I then realized that I didn’t think I had enough gas to get back to Hermosillo so I showed him my gas gauge and he shook his head. He said he had $40 and that I could have it, pointing up the road, “petrol 10 minutes ahead”. I then remembered I had some pesos in the compartment by my arm rest that I used for tolls so that I wouldn’t have to keep getting into my purse out.
All my ‘worldly money’ at the time was in pesos . . . in a baggie. I gave it to him and he said I had enough to get to Hermosillo but not Nogales (I presume he’s thinking if I want to get back into the U.S.). He said to get it filled with the two 200 pesos I had and to also buy a phone for $35 and get to Hermosillo as fast as I could. I gave him a big hug, took his stamped note and drove off. As I put my car into drive, he steps in front of it and yells, “if you have ANY PROBLEM, call me!” I love my cop J
I stopped and got gas but no phone, I wanted to keep every piddly peso I had, and beat it to hell up to Hermosillo, all the while thinking what I would do if my purse was no where to be found.
Of what security and comfort I had, it was in the note the cop wrote because I was haunted by the idea of being stopped on the way to Hermosillo and not having a license, passport…NOTHING. At least I had this note telling the world that I didn’t have any ID because I lost my purse and I was going back to try and find it.
I tried the cops words of wisdom on for size but I wasn’t in the mood for “sometimes things happen for a reason’. I thought of all kinds of things and scenarios, mostly wondering where I would be that evening.
I was so immersed in my solutions that I wound up going thru downtown Hermosillo – buses, bikes, walkers, gazillion stop lights/signs. I finally got thru but in my haste I jigged when I should have jagged and I got lost so I stopped a cop in the middle of traffic lol and he pointed the way.
I came to a jolting halt at the same bathroom and, for me, I ran in and opened up the stall and . . . . no purse…surprise, surprise. Tears started welling in my eyes before I got a hold of myself.
Seeing the toll booths ahead, I walked up to one of them and handed the toll guy the note from the San Carlos cop; it could have said “arrest this lady: for all I knew.. He points over to what looks like an office, I go over and knock on the door and hand a uniformed person my note. He’s speaking but…se habla no English. He gestures for me to stay. He goes out to the line of toll booths and he replaces himself for someone else and that someone else comes walking over to me. “I speak a little English”, demonstrating by putting his thumb and index finger about ½” apart. “What color is it?” Black. “How big is it?” How in the hell do you explain a fanny pack?!? He clearly didn’t understand.
He then went out to each of the toll booths (about 8?) and came back and said something was turned in but he said it was much earlier than when I would have been going through Hermosillo. I wasn’t going to drive all the way from San Carlos to Hermosillo and not turn over every stone so I asked if I could still see it …just in case. So, in Spanish he explained to a stooped, elderly civilian lady with no teeth and she walked off. A few anxious minutes later she came around the corner and there she was. . . holding my fanny pack! They all immediately knew it was mine; I think throwing my hands up in the air and laughing-crying was their hint.
The sorta English-speaking toll booth guy pointed at the purse and laughed, “Fanny pack, fanny pack!” He told the others around and they got a good laugh too.
No welling this time, I’m full-out crying, trying to open it and see if anything was inside. Everything…EVERYTHING was still in there. I looked at them, trying to wipe my tears and asked them who found it, or who was it given to and he pointed to my Toothless Fairy. I was shocked; she could taken it herself…so easily….but she didn’t. I took out $20, gave it to her and gave her one BIG ass hug. She was beaming. When I walked away, I turned around and put my hands together as if praying and said about the only Spanish I know…gracias Senorita.”
I then got in my car, made a U-turn and headed back to San Carlos. I don’t even remember the trip back other than the time went by a lot quicker than when I was driving up.
Even though it was around 8 p.m. and getting dark, all I wanted to do was to get into the ocean and r-e-l-a-x. Floating with my pool noodle, I remembered what My San Carlos Cop said, “Sometimes things happen for a reason”. Hmmmm….
A couple of days later I was still thinking about that and I pulled his note out for reflection. Right then, I decided I just had to call the cop and thank him for the note, the note that gave me the only sense of calm I had driving to Hermosillo and the note that interpreted what my problem was with the cops cell number on it, badge number and an official stamp.
“Bueno?” he says. “Officer, this is the gal who lost her purse in the bathroom in Hermosillo and…” “Oh, Susanna, did you find it, did you find it?” I can understand him, but barely.
“YES! I found it, can you believe it?!” “Oh, Susanna, you’re my Miracle in Mexico, you’re my Miracle in Mexico!” We were both laughing and laughing. “I’m so, how do you say it…happy. I’m so happy!”
“Oh, Officer Gomez, I’m SO HAPPY, too!” There was this pause and then he reminded me, “somethings happen for a reason, Susanna.”
“Yes, they do. And one of them is you.” Very slowly, so he could have a chance to understand me….”I would have been lost without your note. You can’t begin to know how much comfort that gave me on my drive up to Hermosillo. I’m calling to say thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!” I really don’t think he understands what I’m saying other than thank you, which was all that was important to me.
He just kept repeating, “I’m so happy, I’m so happy!”
“Susanna, if you need ANYTHING while you’re in San Carlos you call me. Si?” “Okay, but I hope I don’t have to call you”…we both laughed. I thanked him again and we hung up.
A couple of days after that I just felt compelled to call him and see if I could take our picture. “Susanna, are you okay?” I laughed, he obviously had looked at his caller id. “Yes, Officer Gomez, it’s okay, I’m fine. I was calling to see if we can get together so I can get your picture.” He didn’t comprendo. Singularly, I said, “A picture, camera you and me. Can we meet?” “Si, Susanna. At 3 o’clock, where we met on road.”
So a couple of hours later I get on the highway heading north ….and I keep heading north. I realize that I have no clue where I initially stopped and talked to him. I keep going north and I see a mileage sign to Hermosillo. Nope, not head’n back there again, so I make a U-E, head south and still don’t see him; make another U-E and head further north and I still don’t see him. My phone rings, “where are you, Susanna?” I laughed, “I have no idea where I am, where are you?” He tells me to drive to the next milepost sign and tell him what it says, which I did. “We’re five minutes behind you, stop and pull over.”
I’m calmly reading the email on my cell when I hear a siren wailing, I look and he’s pulling up, “Susanna, my Miracle in Mexico!” comes out over his loudspeaker. LOL.
We immediately embrace. And then we embrace again. His partner gets out of the car and introduces himself but he speaks no English. I handed him my phone and put it up and mimicked taking a picture and pointed at Officer Gomez and me. Picture, together, him and me….he gets it.
Officer Gomez and I are both laughing and I just keep saying to My Officer, “gracias, gracias.”
After the picture is taken Officer Gomez goes to his car, pulls out a napkin and writes on it, “my email address, picture, please.” Playing charades again, I point to the camera icon, point at him and point at the email address…”you want a copy?” “Si, si Susanna.”
I then slipped $50 into his chest pocket and he took it out and gave it back to me, shaking his head. “NO!” I said sternly and put it back in his pocket; we went through that gyration one more time before I looked squarely into his eyes. “You’re going to take it. Please.” He did and we hugged again and then before he got in his car, he said, “in San Carlos, going home, any problems you CALL ME! You have your own policia here…anytime.”
Tears in my eyes, I pointed to him: “sometimes things happen for a reason.”
“Oh, Susanna, you’re my Miracle in Mexico, you’re my Miracle in Mexico! Adios.”
I have attached his note and our photo . . . isn’t he just the cutest? And he’s ALL mine LOL