Ok, that's an exaggeration. I didn't almost go to jail in Ibiza....but I could have.
That afternoon, we headed to San Antoni de Portmany on the western coast of Ibiza in our rented Panda, allegedly the best place on the island to watch the sunset. We figured we could get in some party time/dinner and drinks as well, only to find out that Ibiza, the whole entire island, turns into a ghost town in the winter months (minus a few places). The clubs and lounges close for remodeling....I'm assuming that the interior gets completely trashed during the crazy party months and they have to patch up the holes in the walls and reupholster the furniture....I'm making this up but it's my best guess.
We park and walk to the beach, passing all the shuttered establishments, searching for some signs of life....people, loud music, anything lol. But around every corner there is more of the same....desolation, loud sighs and eye rolls. The beach is gorgeous even with the cloud cover. But still....we haven't even seen any restaurants open...how do the people that live here eat??And just as we were about to throw in the towel.........a ray of hope. Loud bass coming from the very end of the beach. We dern near broke and ran towards the sound.
As it turns out, this was the day The Mint Lounge opened back up for the party season. It also happened to be an Irish owned establishment opening on St. Patrick's Day. We didn't care though, the sat us on the patio, turned on a heater right next to our table, fed us delicious pizza and gave us a litany of beverages....the trip was not a total loss.
The waitress brought us a round a cava on the house......being nice gets you far, remember that. The Mint Lounge saved the day. We left there happier, attitudes readjusted, whistles wet and full. Ready for whatever else the night might bring.
We walked back to the garage to load ourselves into the Panda and head back to our side of the island. As we drive down this one way street, I see blue lights swirling atop cars in the distance. I don't pay this any mind though, these lights appear to be attached to policia vehicles and we haven't done anything wrong so we ain't got no worries. They're serving and protecting and it has nothing to do with us. As we get closer to the end of the street, the light gets brighter and an officer standing on the sidewalk flags us down. We're all very confused but again, we're law abiding visitors so we pull over and roll down the window to see what's going on.
So the officer sticks his head in the window and asks us a few questions then he looks in the back seat. He points out that Natasha and I aren't wearing our seat belts. He asks us to pull our car over to the middle of the plaza. We're still confused.
But wait....let me set the scene for you a little bit more. We pull over to the plaza and there are several policia cars with lights blaring. Chidi is driving b/c she's the only of us that could drive a stick, bless her heart. Erin is riding shotgun b/c her and her data plan are navigating the island for us. Natasha and I are chilling in the back, living life. I look over and see other civilians standing around speaking to policia who have pads in their hands...writing feverishly. Question marks are forming on my forehead. This scene has all the makings of a set up and the suspicion is rising.
Meanwhile, new officers approach the car. The one on my side of the car tells us that it's Spanish law that all passengers in the vehicle must wear seat belts. Since we were breaking the law, we would be assessed a fine of 100 euro each. So that's 100 euro from both Natasha and I. Collectively, our mouths drop open and we get each offer a rebuttal. Mind you, the guy is talking to a car full of attorneys. We all just into defense mode. We explained that we were American, tourists, not familiar with the law, the rental company didn't explain and whatever else we could think of. One of us even asked if he might be willing to issue a warning and let us go on about our night. But nope. He was hearing none of that.
As we're splaining ourselves, he's asking for ID. I pass my passport through the window, protesting the whole time. So basically this man is telling me I'm gonna have to fork over 100 euro and in protest I say, well what if I don't have 100 euro on me. To which he replied by pointing at the ATM machine behind him then added, if we don't receive payment we'll have the car impounded.
Ugh....this basically caused an uproar in the car. How can you impound a car that doesn't belong to us? It's a rental...and so on. He shrugs and walks off. As he's writing, what I can only assume is the citation he's about to give us, I'm weighing the options and calculating my next move.
- Do I release the depths of Third Ward, Texas on this dude and risk being tackled and detained in a Spanish jail cell?
- Do I tell Chidi to put the Panda in drive, plow thru the police barricade and initiate a high (medium) speed chase around the little island of Ibiza and risk this being broadcast on international news where my mama can see?
- Keep rolling my eyes and making smart mouth comments and get tazed?
- Show him some skin?
- Or do I just pay this man because I see him writing down my passport number and I want to be able to leave the country without a scene.
He comes back to the car to return my passport. Then he says to me, "do you want to pay now?" Worst question ever, sir. Of course I do NOT want to pay you 100 euro that I am sure you're going to pocket at the end of this ordeal, this whole situation is shady. If you're asking me what I want, I want to have never met you this evening. I want to do you harm right now....I want some delicious dessert to top off my dinner, I want to continue my awesome night and perhaps dance the night away in one of Ibiza's famous super clubs. I want to do all these things exponentially more than I want to pay you right now.
Again he explains the charge only this time he divulges that the fine is actually 200 euro but he's willing to discount the price 50% if we pay on the spot. Where they do that at? Since when is there a 2 for one special on traffic violations? Man.........UGH. He's standing there with his hand out...waiting for the palm to be greased and I had the blue magic. I had 90 euro in my wallet, Erin spots me the other 10 so I don't have to get out of the car, push past the officer and do the walk of shame over to the ATM. I had him the cash and presents me with a long slip of white paper. I snatch it and manually roll up my window. Through the glass I hear him saying that there is an appeal process. "Oh, I'm certainly going to appeal this...it's absurd". Meanwhile, Natasha has googled the traffic laws and there it is in black and white. Needless to say, I didn't waste my time trying to appeal....I just considered it a hard lesson learned and I wore my seat belt the rest of the trip.
Natasha pays the man too and they release us. It is clear to us that they probably set up check points like this every night to find anything they can claim is a violation of the law but really is a device to get some extra cash. It's easy money too because all of the streets leading away from the beach are one way. So it's like a huge dragnet cast over the only exits off the beach. We weren't drunk driving but it was a slow night and they had a quota.
The ride back to our place was pretty silent. Everyone was pissed and the vibe was sufficiently killed. We hiked into old town, back to our apartment and basically called it a night. Thanks for ruining our lives policia.