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A Tijuana Jail

Charles E. Moritzky

This is another vignette of one of my experiences in Mexico. It is not a complaint or criticism, just an account of brief adventure.

A lot of people would be reluctant to admit that they had spent three days in jail. Who hasn't violated a traffic regulation or fudged on their income tax. The ironic part of this story is that I spent three days in jail for something I didn't do. And I'm still not clear as to what it is that "I didn't do".

Whilst living in my cozy little house in La Gloria, with not a care in the world, a pretty young neighboring señorita asked me if I would teach her English so she would be better qualified for advancement in her job. I should have known better, and probably did, but I agreed. She was an excellent student. One day, after a few weeks of this arrangement, she appeared very nervous. I asked her what was wrong, and she blurted out that she was in love with me. Again, I should have known better, and probably did, but I responded to some controlled degree.

Some time later, in a discussion with her parents, whom I didn't admire, we had a confrontation. Soon after that the police arrived at my door and asked if I would accompany them to their station. I suspected nothing serious and went along with them. Without any formalities they placed me in a crowded cell. Apparently some kind of charges had been filed against me by the parents.

To define crowded, there wasn't enough room on the floor for everyone to lie down to sleep at the same time. The bathroom consisted of a commode, without a seat, placed against the wall. No toilet paper. You can imagine what the place smelled like.

In the wee hours of the morning they threw a well dressed drunk into the cell. He was snoring before he hit the floor. Fascinated, I watched a young man deftly, slowly, quietly, remove his nice pair of shoes. You don't interfere in such cases. Anyway, they both probably had a good laugh about it, later, among their buddies.

The next day I was talking to one of my older cellmates. He said he had just made it across the border when the "migres" had caught him and sent him back. Then the Mexican police picked him up and threw him in jail. (That wasn't right, but they do about anything they could get away with to make an extra peso.) They told him he had to pay $40 or $50 dollars before he could get out, and he had no way of laying his hands on the money. I could picture him dying in that miserable place years later for want of $40 or $50.

I got along with everyone. Shared my cigarettes till they ran out and then borrowed. Swapped stories. Still it wasn't a nice place to be. Unless you had money or someone shared with you, there was no food. If you had money, the guards would bring you about anything.

I think it was 48 hours before they let me make a telephone call. Then I knew it was just a matter of time. I had friends, who had friends, who were well placed.

When they told me I could go, I walked out in the bright sunlight, badly in need of a shave, clothes I had slept in for two nights, with that jail-house stench. And there was Carmen, Luie's daughter. Beautiful, smiling Carmen, as fresh as an early morning rose. She had driven down alone to get me.

At that point I knew I had been redeemed. I no longer feared that my friends would shun me and I would be ostracized by society for the rest of my life. Yes, there would be rumors and gossip of my being thrown in jail because of the love of a young girl, but that would only enhance my image in the eyes of my Mexican acquaintances.

OK, now it's payback time. I don't consider myself as a vengeful person, but I don't believe in letting people get away with such stuff. The Rosarito detectives hauled in the parents and they confessed all. They had filed false charges. That was good enough for me.

Published or Updated on: January 1, 2006 by Charles E. Moritzky © 2008
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