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On Mexico Time: When it all goes wrong!
Valle de Bravo: Mexico's SwitzerlandClick thumbnail to view full-size
Four taxi-drivers raped my maid.
On Mexican Time 2: When it all goes wrong.
As a working journalist, I learned one of the first laws of reporting is to keep the author out of the story. All very well, until the journalist himself becomes part of the story, as happened to me a few years ago in Valle de Bravo, State of Mexico.
At the time, I had rented a ranch in the hills above Valle de Bravo, on past the luxury spa at Avandaro, a particularly lovely part of Mexico, some one hour’s drive from Toluca, itself another hour from Mexico City. Part of the rental agreement was I continue the employment of a young maid, Loli, and also act as a parental figure - if possible - in her 18-year-old life. Loli Hernandez was young, very pretty - and an accident waiting to happen. Perhaps I should have exercised more discipline; easy to be wise after the event.
This saga began as Loli and I were returning from shopping in the native market in Valle de Bravo (Valle for short). As my car was in a workshop having a new engine installed in Toluca, we went to and fro in taxis, which are plentiful and cheap all over the country. Loli and the young, rather handsome, “taxista” were chatting animatedly and I had tuned-out, as my Spanish, although good, was not up to the regional accents when they were at it like monkeys. But I did catch her saying, “Oh, I have always wanted to be a cop and wear a gun!” And his reply, “I am a good friend of the local Federal police commandante, if you like I can introduce you and he will help you get enlisted.” What is it with some girls and guns? The power is attractive and sexy, I suppose. While I sat there fumbling for the cab fare and glowering to myself, I heard the two of them arranging to meet that night: he would return and pick her up at 7:00 PM.
I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to convince Loli she was taking a risk and doing the wrong thing in going out at night with someone she did not know, and to meet other, somewhat nebulous, characters. She would have none of it, and calls to her family proved fruitless as they were away from Guanajuato, in the Capital.
Well, I thought eventually, I have done all I can to change her mind. If I had had an inkling of what would happen that fateful night, I would have chained her up in the woodshed.
By 7, Loli was all done up in her Sunday best and looked a real little cracker. I shook me head as I saw her, full of life and excitement at what the night might bring. The taxi arrived closer to 8 than 7, which again gave me fears that respect wasn’t high on the agenda here…but Mexicans are always late, so I kept my reservations to myself and told her she had a midnight curfew and I would be up waiting for her. Efforts to get an address from the taxi driver met failure due to some pretext or other.
I had tried to stay awake, but woke in alarm on the sofa to the sound of flashing lights and a racing motor as a vehicle pulled hurriedly up my driveway. I glanced at my watch: 3:30 am, Loli must be back! I opened the heavy front door just as a young chap with a bundle over his shoulder was mounting the front steps. Yes, it was my maid, Loli, nude, rolled in a blanket and covered in scratches and bruises - and catatonic, or at least comatose.
The Good Samaritan - as he turned out to be - was a fisherman about to head off round the huge lake in Valle to do something with the finny fraternity, I never discovered what. I made him a coffee and he explained he had found Loli stumbling along by the water. “All she could do was point,” he said, “So I eventually managed to follow her directions back here; it looks as if she has been attacked and robbed, perhaps even worse!” We both knew what he meant and with my knowledge of with whom she had set off, I can’t say I was too surprised. The worst was, she remained unconscious, breathing shallowly and moaning. Efforts to revive her were futile and I became very concerned as dawn began to break over the hills to the east.
So much so, that we managed to dress her, bundle her into the pickup again and head the 15 miles down the winding highway, back to Valle de Bravo. It took another hour to find some sort of clinic open, but we eventually ended up at the Mexican Department of Social Security facility (Like the NHS). There, a sleepy doctor and a yawning nurse worked for long minutes trying to revive Loli and she came round just as the police arrived, who had been summoned by the staff thinking perhaps we had assaulted her.
By the time we had sorted all this out, and Loli had managed to tell her side of events, it was late morning. It had all played out as I had feared. She had been invited into this house with several men who had said they were Federal Police. During the evening, she had been “fed” a lot of tequila and cocaine. When they had primed her to their satisfaction, one of the men took her to a bedroom, had sex with her (by force or not I don’t know…she was no blushing virgin), but the crime was committed when he was joined by the three others who “gang raped her,” biting, gouging and even hitting her on the head with a table lamp when she tried to escape, which she finally managed, through a bathroom window without her clothes, ending up, lost, drunk, drugged and confused, by the lake.
Off we all went to the police station to make statements and try to find these bloody bastards. I volunteered to climb into the back of the real Federal Police pickup, as I knew the taxi driver, and drive around the town looking for him, Would you believe it, lo and behold, there the swine was, polishing his taxi outside the bus depot without a care in the world! I saw red, jumped from the truck, tore over and grabbed him by the throat, followed by the Feds, who quickly cuffed him and shoved him into the truck. All the while he was protesting, “No hago nada!” I didn’t do anything! That was before he was accused of anything, so it was more than a mite suspicious.
The cop shop again as the driver was “persuaded” to give up his accomplices after Loli had identified him as also having raped her. Soon, three other sheepish-looking taxi drivers arrived, the “Federal Police,” also in shackles.
Then, the really terrifying part of the story began for me as a line of taxis began to form outside the police station. The cavalry had arrived to show solidarity to their work mates and defiance to the female who “lived with a Gringo.” They were soon joined by about 20 family members who arrived to add their voices to the car horns of the drivers in support of their darling little violators.
Loli was surrounded by a frantic, gesticulating throng, begging her, importuning her and thrusting handfuls of money at her. We were witnessing a form of justice, Mexican style, and it would have taken a person much stronger (and perhaps more moral) that my little Indian maid to have withstood their advances. As I watched, incredulous, and well to one side, Loli began pocketing bundles of large denomination peso notes!
While I had been out playing Clint Eastwood, Loli had been subject to a medical examination by the police doctor, who concluded she had been violently raped and physically assaulted, but, “There had been a degree of complicity on her part!” Complicity? She helped them smash her over the head with a table lamp, then? And screamed out, “Please bite me, scratch me, oh, this is fun!” Well there may be women of the world that like their trade that rough, but Loli wasn’t one of them, she may have gone with one chap more or less willingly, but not all of them, she was just gullible, and, to be honest, thick as two planks.
The atmosphere in the station was verging on dangerous for Loli and me. She was being branded “a tart” a “prostitute” who was no doubt servicing an old Gringo (she wasn’t) and had “encouraged” four devout Catholic, hard-working drivers, to leave the straight and narrow while she violated them!
Using my journalist’s credentials with a powerful Mexico City newspaper (Novedades), two of the hung-over scumbags were thrust into a cell to be transported later to the local state lockup to face trial, (The others got out somehow…bribes, I expect). And we returned, exhausted and in silence to the ranch.
I never saw Loli again. When I awoke the next day, she had absconded, taking one of my suitcases, and without even a note to say “Adios.” I hope she realized her dream to make something of her life. But I am afraid the most likely scenario is she will be found with the other hundreds who ply their trade along Calle Sullivan, in Mexico City, at night. Shame. She was cute, well turned-out and pretty; she deserved better: but don’t they all?
Postscript. I was walking past the bus depot in Valle de Bravo a couple of weeks later when I did a surprised double take. Yep, there he was again, polishing his taxi! He even sneered at me when I walked by. I knew then it was time to leave Valle, which I did the next week and have never returned either.