Near Coatzacoalcos, a big city near the thinnest part of Mexico on the Gulf side I pull off the toll road for gas. After gassing up I push the motorcycle to park between some cars. Soon a big Mexican dude walks over and starts talking. I rap in Spanish a little and do my normal formal greeting which is to try a shake of his hand. But something is wrong here, it feels like grabbing a thick muscled stub that isn’t making any attempt to shake, even if it could. Whoo! This is Mexico, everyone shakes hands. Then he says something I don’t understand. I smoothly say "perdóneme, hablo español muy mal" (Sorry I speak Spanish very bad). This usually gets a smile but not here. I am feeling a tense, then ‘pow’, he has his hands all over me fingering my chest and sides up and down. Pow! I blow him back with a shove. We stand our ground staring at each other while I maintain a stone face. Soon he starts rattling out some Spanish jive about the small padlocks on my saddle bags. At this moment I know my suspicions are correct, this isn’t a friendly Mexican that is a little slow but a big aggressive dude wanting to shake me down! Now I am ready for anything. (As I’ve aged I have come to realize I am way too aggressive for my own good) My stone face is deepening and I stop speaking Spanish. Next, he reaches inside my helmet, which is clipped to the bikes sissy bar, and takes out my sunglasses. I coil slightly in a relaxed attack stance and am ready to "pull the trigger". Some more jive, I continue my death stare. After a moment, what felt like minutes, the sunglasses slowly get put back into my helmet. The Spanish jive talk and the stare continue for what seems like forever. Then he slowly walks away, but first scanning my gear and me slowly up and down. The whole time this is going on an even bigger Mexican dude is leaning against a car talking on his cell phone watching. I look at him a couple times with a "Hey what's up with this" look. He gave me no comfort at all. He probably is in on the whole thing and talking to his buddy up on the toll road saying "Hey!, here comes a ringer, get ready!"
WT_, I motor out and stop a half a block away in front of some shack homes. I still need to stow my rain suit. My mind is racing “Did I let it get to far?” “Am I over reacting?” No, no one touches me, especially like that. I look for justification why did this happen. I blame it on the fact I didn’t look particularly big and tough with my green rain-suite on, and he must have not seen my flaming skull decals on the gas tank until he looked me over more. “OK” I say “I'm over it” but this is still in my mind. Instantly, another big Mexican, I swear it is the first dudes brother, walks over and stars aggressively talking. I am VERY FIRM but pleasant and just cram my rain gear under a bungee cord and get the hell out of there, a little paranoid, maybe.
- People with a lot of experience dealing with hustlers suggest the situation could have been handled better and not escalated as far as it did. The suggestion is to say "Llamo a la policia" I'm calling the police.
- Be aware and study any person or persons who come up to you. Mexicans and strangers in general are generally polite and slightly reserved. If someone is loud and in your face, it Is a Red Flag, you are being tested for your weaknesses.
- When parking the motorcycle, always have the bike pointing out with everything attached so if shit hits the fan, all I have to do is jump on, stick in the keys and take off. The bike this time was pointing in, between two cars. I had to back it out first.
- Keep my pepper-spray handy, right front hip pocket ready to draw with ease. If I can't get to it, it isn’t going to do any good. In this case my pepper-spray was under my rain suit, I would have had to dink around to get it.