Bribing corrupt cops – La Mordita

Driving around with your own car gives you so much freedom and we highly recommend it for Tulum, if you’re not staying on the beach. We rented a car and drove from Puerto Aventuras to Chiquila (where you catch the ferry to Isla Holbox). All was planned, the route was mapped out, Julian has looked at Google Maps steet view to be sure of the turnings, and we had snacks for the kids for the long drive.

We’re driving out of Playa Del Carmen North on the 305D and there’s a Police Control with a small speed bump and 20km/hr sign at the last minute. Seeing it late, we go over the bump a little too quickly and immediately get pulled over to the side. A cop in mirrored sunglasses talks Spanish to Julian and looks through our papers. Then the theatre starts, talking to his colleague to “check” how fast we were driving and finally tell me we have to come to the station to be cautioned for speeding.


After hearing it was a rental car, and seeing my foreign driver’s license, he finally reveals that if we pay 3000 pesos on the spot, then we could avoid going down to the police station. Seeing we had 3 children in the back, he also revealed it would take several hours to process the ticket since we could only go to the station after their shift. At this point the kids start asking “daddy why are we here?”. This is when it got quite stressful,

Julian has a habit of wearing shorts with several pockets when travelling long distances to put high values notes in one pocket and smaller looser money in the other, and finally could put it to good use! Claiming not have 3000 (we had more than that in the special pocket), without wanting to give a number ourselves, the bargaining began. Eventually he asked how much I did have and I settled on 500 Pesos (about $26) which he kindly accepted and we were on our way.


It’s sad that the cliche of the corrupt Mexican cop became true, we didn’t want to believe it. At the time, we were upset and angry, feeling totally helpless, but looking back, it feels like a funny holiday memory. We have since read in blogs that the bribes are called La Mordita (the little bite) and that if you get stopped by police, always ask for a ticket and they nearly always let you go. You live and learn…

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