For the second time in as many days, Melaney traveled to La Uruca, a small suburb out of San Jose, to get her Costa Rican driver's license. The first time, they arrived just after 11 a.m. and were told that foreigners have to be there between 8 and 11, with no exceptions. Our neighbour Johanna has been acting as interpreter for her. Melaney doesn’t have enough command of the Spanish language to argue with arrogant government officials. They were turned away.
This morning, Valentine’s Day, Mel rose early with the intentions of getting a quick start at trying again to get the license. She photo copied all the documents that she needed, including another copy of her passport. At Johanna’s house, she was informed it would be another 20 minutes. This made it past 9, and she needed to get the truck fueled before the trip. Her intentions were to also stop in Alajuela and buy a pair of sports shoes so they can go walking out here. By the time they got to the license office, it was just barely before 11. The traffic was horrendous. To top it all off, Mel’s vehicle license has a one at the end, and this means that travel in San Jose and environs is forbidden on a Monday, which this happens to be. They do this to try to take the pressure off the roads. Each end number indicates which day that travel in the city is off limits. She didn’t think of it till she was there, and only hoped that she wouldn’t be stopped.
After showing all the documents, they gave her a slip of paper with a sum of 4000 colones, that had to be paid before they would issue the license. Johanna ran to the other end of the building compound, where the pay window was located. It was closed for lunch. She ran around the corner to a bank, stood in a long line, (the armed guards would only allow 3 people in the bank at a time, and there was only one teller open--Mel) paid the fee and rushed back to where Melaney was waiting for her. That makes a total of $46. for a three year license. I hope she doesn’t have to go through all that routine when it is time to renew it.
There was a lot more complication than I have outlined. However, Melaney got her license, and now she is an official Tica driver. By showing this, we can get Tico prices for some things instead of their taking advantage of foreigners.
The one thing I have discussed with people here is they need a few very good efficiency experts. Where she was getting the license, there were two people sitting doing nothing, and one processor was taking care of the licensing. By this method, the line up is difficult to deal with, and requires so much waiting time.