March 6, 2010
Well, I headed to Trujillo on the Panamericana and I was certainly enjoying the pavement. I went through a small town and saw a loaded bike ahead…I caught up to them, waved hello, No, it’s nobody that I know so I just followed them for a while. Colombian Plates. I followed them for a bit but they are two-up on a small bike and have to slow waaaaaaaaaaaaay down at all the speed bumps. Finally they wave me around, I wave goodbye, and I am off at speed again.
A while later I am on a flat stretch of road and I see Policia Carretera (Highway Police) up ahead…I duck in behind the truck in front of me and hope to go by undetected…but the buggers have seen me and one actually crosses the road so there is a policeman on either side of the road to wave me down. Ugh.
I pull over, they ask for my documents, I give them my (fake) drivers license and my (real) moto papers.
They study them an then the one guy tells me my drivers license is fake (uhoh). He says he works in the official documents division and he knows all the licenses and mine is fake (uhoh).
I am a terrible liar. I don’t know what to say. So I say it’s all I have. I actually keep repeating “it’s all I have” every time they say something.
They tell me there is a big fine for riding with a fake drivers license. I shrug. “it’s all I have”
One walks to the car with my documents, the other starts asking me questions, and I start jabbering away in Spanish. I tell them I have traveled in 12 countries now, and I always use that drivers license and I never have any problems. I use it at all the border crossings, etc.
They tell me again there is a big fine for riding with a fake drivers license. I shrug. “it’s all I have”.
At one point the guy with my license call my name. I think he’s trying to see if I am really the person on the document. Not only do I answer, because of course it is my name, after all, it’s a PHOTOCOPY of my REAL drivers license, I have the audacity to correct his pronunciation of my name.
Now I am not proud of this, but I have to tell you this so you understand how nervous I was inside while pretending NOT to e on the outside: I never bought the “official” insurance for riding in Peru. Yes, I know I am gonna get a lot f flack for this on ADVrider, but whatever. I did not feel like forking over $150++ for a years insurance when I am going to be in Peru 3 weeks. It’s robbery!
Anyway, I am sweating this, hoping whatever angels I have had along with me on this trip are not taking a dinner break at the moment.
And alas, salvation comes in the form of the Colombian motorcyclists.
They spy the situation, and pull over alongside my bike. The both get off, take their helmets off, and start chatting me up. Where are you from? Where are you going? where have you been? etc.
Isabel is really great, she shoves her camera at the policeman and asks him to take pictures of all of us together. I give them my camera for them to take photos. We ask if we can take photos with the policemen.
Oh, we have a great visit.
I know what’s going on.
Hernando and Isabel know what’s going on.
The Policemen know what’s going on.
[For you folks following that don’t know what’s going on, the policemen are waiting for me to say something like “is there anything I can to to avoid the big fine?” or “What can I do to resolve this?” They want a bribe.]
Ahem. So Hernando and Isabel say they are going to the next town and are going to stop for the night, would I like to join them: they can share travel stories and information since they have been traveling for 6 months in south America and went to Ushuaia, etc.
I say yes, and I tell them that I would like to just as soon as I finish up with these gentlemen.
I turn to the policemen and ask them if they need anything else from me. They say no, and return my documents. We are all very polite, say muchas gracias, adios, and I ride off with a grin that barely fits into my helmet.
My stomach is a little queasy, though. I guess I got a bad case of nerves.