Well, once in a while the dramatic stories of my life must be told in full. So, for those who would like greater details of my visit to the police station… read on.
On Thursday morning, at approximately 10:30, Fionna and I were dinking around town on my motorcycle trying to find a place to park. Quite a few streets were blocked off which caused me to get a little discombobulated and drive up some streets that I often don’t ride on. Approaching this particular intersection, there was no stop sign for me, so I speed on and to our dismay so did the fellow coming crossways because he also did not have a stop sign. In a flash I saw the terror on the guys face who was driving and the frail older lady that he had on the back seat. Then my own terror gripped me as I desperately tried to slam on the brakes. I t-boned into the side of his motorcycle and heard the smashing of plastic and metal. Then came the cries of the other driver as the bike went down on top of him. My first reaction was a desperate look around for Fionna. I heard other vehicles approaching fast and worried about one of us being run over. Later, she told me that somehow she had fallen off first and got up by the time she saw me flying off backwards. I landed on my back and Fionna heard me screaming all the way down. Thankfully, that was a very comical moment for her, must have something to do with all the Calvin and Hobbes magazines that the kids read.
Somehow, the frail lady riding on the back of the bike managed to jump off like Fionna did, I hobbled over to the sidewalk and sat down, stunned and in shock. Vaguely I listened to the frantic work of people trying to get the other driver into a motocar and taken to a hospital. All of his moaning and groaning was very dramatic and disturbing to listen to. I tried calling on my cell phone and contacting folks back at the institute. I wanted to get a hold of Jesse, who was teaching a class at the time, but was unable to get a hold of anyone. Thankfully, I was able to get in touch with Techy and Delwin Fowler to come help me sort out the mess. (They are local missionary friends) All I could think of was the massive fines and threats the police would throw on me along with this other family and the medical outcome of the other driver. Gringos are great targets for getting money out of. Latinos are great at playing the yelling match, whoever yells the loudest usually wins. I prayed that the Lord would provide a just and loving solution.
In the midst of all that, folks worked very quickly to get the other man’s motorcycle off the street and hidden away in a neighbor’s garage. That was my first red flag (beyond the very dramatic moaning of the man) that something fishy was happening. However, I was still in too much shock to think much about it. The other driver and older lady were out of there within a few minutes without even asking me for my information.
People quietly stood by me, brought me water and tried asking me questions. Later, I realized that the man’s wife had come up beside me and asked what was going on, just as the Police showed up. The Police took all my paperwork, put me in the back of the Police truck, another officer rode my bike down to the station and Fionna was allowed to go with the Fowlers. Once at the Police station, the first officer to see me and hear the story let me know in no uncertain terms that my driver’s license was illegal for Peru and basically I was in deep trouble. Never mind the fact that the other folks had all taken off and hid their motorcycle!! I calmly explained to him (still in too much shock to let any of my Irish out!) that I had an International Driver’s License and that my husband would be bringing it shortly.
Techy and Raquel Fowler were coaching me through the whole process and calming me down while we waited for Jesse to show up. In the meantime, they sent a police officer to the hospital where the man had been taken to and eventually, the wife showed up at the police station to present his paperwork. Jesse showed up to join the hurry up and wait party. After a few hours of sitting there, we were brought before a transit officer and he started questioning what happened. In looking over both of our paperwork, he mentioned to the lady that their motorcycle insurance (SOAT) had just been bought at 11:30 that morning, the accident happened at 10:30! No wonder they were so quick to get out of there. Driving around without SOAT is a big no no. I was indignant (my Irish was coming out) but it didn’t seem to matter too much to the officer. It’s all a big game of who’s going to pay.
Eventually, the wife pulled one of the officers into another office, and what was exchanged at that time we do not know, but the officer came back-in talking quietly, but loudly enough so we could hear that she wanted to reconcile privately. We did not realize this was an option and thought we were just dealing with the police. Throughout this whole time, they were trying to find anything and everything wrong with my paperwork so they could get me on something. Sure enough they found one, my motorcycle license plate was different than what the title document said, which we didn’t realize. Jesse made a few calls around to the previous owners and found out that they had just not updated the license plate, the police checked into that and found that was true. They seemed very sad, gone was the idea of getting us for a stolen vehicle.
The wife wanted us to sign an agreement for a small percentage but indefinite payment of damages for her husband. Threats of him needing surgery or therapy were being made. All a little bit shocking when it had been stated by transit police and agreed by all that it was a no fault accident due to there being no stop signs. We were adamantly against being responsible for indefinite damages in a no fault accident. Thankfully, at this point, the police intervened and suggested we could come to a fixed amount payment and we would have to come to an agreement soon or the paperwork would be started to file a claim against us. She called her husband and found out that he had no broken bones nor torn ligaments, which was a huge relief to me. In the end, we offered a payment and the lady counter offered for a higher one, which we accepted. We then went to town to get the agreement written up and notarized to take back to the police station.
Once back at the police station, we signed and paid the lady and she was freed to go with all of her documents and we were once again at the mercy of the police who were still hesitating, trying to get a bribe out of us. In one of their tries, they sent Jesse out to get un-needed photocopies and I overheard the two officers talking about how they weren’t able to get anything out of this gringo (Jesse) and what they should try next. There were vague comments about how much lawyers cost and how nice the police had been to help us avoid these costs. Jesse reminded them of how nice it is to help neighbors out and since we live two blocks away from the police academy, wasn’t it nice and neighborly of us to pull the police truck out of the ditch the other day. In the end, they gave us my documents slowly and let my motorcycle go. As we were on the way out of the office Jesse gave them a few coins to get a pop and promised to be back with some baked goods in the future. The difference between a gift and a bribe.
We ran into the wife as we were collecting my motorbike and she apologized to me for all that happened. Fionna got away with a couple of scratches and bruises. I am quite sore, but am getting better everyday. Thankfully, the older lady only had a few scratches and bruises and the other driver had a sore leg but nothing broken. Adventures in a Peru.