I love this place.

And as my friend, Pancho is fond of saying, ‘In Mexico you are free.”

Example. A year ago I was given a Michoacán state driver’s license. The people at the local DMV weren’t completely swayed by Manolo’s highly innovative argument that I needed the license so that I could rent cars so that I could get to the beach.

Still they dutifully examined my documents. My house rental agreement. The local electric bill which was in my name. They looked at my passport and the discussion went on for a few minutes before the manager finally got called in.

‘But Manolo,’ he said, ‘He’s not a Mexican. He’s a tourist.’

Manolo repeated his argument, ‘But how else is he going to be able to get back and forth to Manzanillo? He needs to be able to drive.’

Fast forward to the present. This driver’s license expires in 2 weeks so Manolo and I made another trip down to the DMV this morning to see about getting it renewed.

Again, they reviewed all my documentation. There wasn’t much of a discussion because they remembered the conversation from a year ago. And this visit wasn’t about getting a license but about renewing an existing license.

Still, the manager – a new guy – was called forth. He hadn’t heard Manolo’s beach argument so after listening he concluded that they could renew it for one year more. The manager looked through my documentation one last time and not seeing my visa, he asked me when it expired. I said February 15th; which is 4 1/2 months from now.

He asked me if I wouldn’t mind running home to fetch the visa so they could photocopy it along with the rest of my documents. He then told me that that they would issue me a new driver’s license which would be good for two years. Two years!

How cool are these people anyway? Many thanks goes to my very well liked friend, Manolo. And my hats off to these sometimes much misunderstood government officials who actually have their hearts and priorities in the right place (esp. if you just fashion your appeal politely and appropriately).

And yes, yes, yes. I recognize that the beach discussion is at the same time both elemental and completely tangential to the subject at hand. But it still bares noting that nobody loves their beaches more than the Mexican people.