Monday, July 14, 2008

A Shake Down, Almost

Several of us, including a new club member Linda, birded Ojo de Agua on the north edge of Tzintzuntzan. Most of the usual suspects were seen.

For me, two bird experiences were particularly special: watching a juvenile Golden-fronted woodpecker do those wing flappings that newly-fledged birds do and having a clear view of a Social flycatcher nest with two busy adults. The other special experience came when a van load of international conference attendees happened to stop by and were awarded with a peak through my spotting scope. A good look at a bird in a spotting scope is - well a life changing experience for many individuals, and I'm pretty sure several of them will never look at a bird in the same way they did previously.

As I made my way back to Patzcuaro, I was stopped in Tzurumutaro by a supposed policeman who claimed I'd made an "infraction" and asked me to pay a 500 peso ($50 USD) fine on the spot. I pretended to not speak/understand Spanish, and he finally waved me on. He went another direction. That's when I noticed something funny about the car. He didn't get into a police car - he got into a taxi. So, I followed him into Patzcuaro. I scribbled his taxi number down and promptly visited the Policia Federal and Ministerio Publico to report his misconduct and attempted thievery.

The police called the taxi company (yes, he was a taxi driver impersonating a police officer - he'd even pinned a fake badge to his shirt) to ask the driver to come to the station. You should have seen this guy's eyes when he arrived and saw me sitting there! A few minutes later, he was also chagrined, or even worse, to see the owner of the taxi company arrive.

In the end, my request for resolution was a 500 peso payment to the local public health clinic and a warning that I never wanted to hear/see that he was bribing others. I left with the police still talking to him about the fake badge....

Hopefully, he will have learned a lesson and won't try to fleece others. I also hope his three children become ornithologists.

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