By Alex Mehlin
We were driving down the main drag of Juliaca, it looked like every other Peruvian shit hole. Smog filled the bus as we passed decrepid buildings, a square with a large ancient church, a thousand bodegas, a hand full of chifa restaurants and the token pollerias.
We were approaching the end of town when I pulled through a busy intersection, the cabs in front of me zoomed through the intersection and I followed suit. A large dump truck was making some sort of rash moneuver forcing the traffic to get backed up. I waited for the dump truck to move as the sounds of police whistles shrieked over the sounds of a hundred engines.
I thought nothing of it and drove down the 3 lane road to Puno. As I passed through a green light a taxi suddenly emerged in front of me. He began to slow down and put his flashers on. He did so in such a way that there was no way for me to pass him. My first thought was that he ran out of gas.
I realized that this was not the case as a police man exited from the front of the car and approached the bus. He immediately began to yell at me and make crude gestures. I smiled and nodded my head. I had no idea what the fuck he was saying but I knew it was not good.
Alaena quickly jumped up front and began to talk to the irate traffic authority. She apologized profusely for my criminal activity and he just kept on telling her that I broke the law and crossed the intersection without his consent.
Apparently it is illegal to cross a policed intersection if the officers back is turned to you. I had no idea and was only following the flow of traffic. He took out the ever to familiar police hand book and flipped to rule number 432, which explain that if a driver disobeys a signal from a police officer he has committed an infraction against Peruvian law. The police officer kept informing Alaena that he was indeed a police officer as if his ridiculous hat, large pistol and hand book were not evidence enough.
She sat and gave him the typical spiel, ¨please don´t do this to us, we love the police of Peru and want no trouble¨. This was not enough for him, he was out for revenge. He informed Alaena that we were no longer going to Puno and would spend the day at the police station paying the allotted fine.
At one point he entered the bus and told us that the fine would be 432 soles. The equivalent to $140, this was solely the number of the infraction in the book, we looked at him with dumb looks as if we knew zero Spanish, Alaena told him we did not have this sort of money. After more deliberation he finally put his infraction hand book back in his pocket and warned Alaena that this had better be the first and last time we ever disobey a traffic guard.
We were pulled over for the same infraction 2 hours later in Puno. So it goes.