So, I bet you’ve been wondering about my drivers license, eh? You’re probably thinking: “He failed the exam and was too embarrassed to put the next post”. Well, after I started this process, that thought did go through my mind. But. . .
I can finally say (with much relief) that this is the final step in getting my license.
I have my Ecuadorian Drivers License! The process began just two short months ago. The first week of December I registered for my course – which is required for everyone (even if you have 16 years driving experience). This process of registering for the course took the better part of a day.
The second part was the course itself. It was neither frustrating or difficult. The quality of the course was good and the instructors were excellent. The course ended towards the end of December and I got my certificate from the driving school on December 26th. This is the paper I needed to go write my exam at the Transit Commission.
The final part was the famed and dreaded Comisión de Tránsito here in Cuenca. During the month of December it had been shut down as the bosses tried to cleanse the place of corruption. Apparently a number of the workers were overcharging the fees and pocketing the difference. Nice. (In fact, when they finally reopened, there was a huge sign outside the door advising what to pay – and not to pay any more than listed fees.)
- And so I went the first week of January to write the exam and get my license. The guard at the gate advised that they were understaffed and so they would be closed for the week.
- Second week of January: Camera is going to be broken all week. Come back on Monday
- Third week of January: See above
- Fourth week of January: They are open, and a full month backlog of applicants all arrive the same morning. They are processing about 40 people every 20 minutes – it was very impressive. I arrived just 30 minutes after they opened – so I only had to wait an hour and a half to start.
Once I aced the exam (20/20 – yes, its not hard at all) I had to visit the staff doctor, so he could check my eyesight, eye color, height, etc. Then I had to go to a third office where I stood in line for another hour, then I paid the $38 and got more paperwork that I had to take to the now working camera room. In just a couple of minutes they snapped the picture and printed the license. And I was done. It didn’t seem so hard. . .
I easily made 100 photocopies (probably much more) of my passport, high school certificate, blood type, power bill, driving course certificate, and every other paper I have with me here in Ecuador. I easily made 25 trips for paperwork, tests, and appointments with closed offices. And in the end, the cost was around $300 – counting the course, the license fee and photocopies.
About the photo: While I was in the line to pay – I was also thinking that this was the line that I would receive my license as well. After I paid and gave them all my paperwork they handed me this slip of paper – “THIS is my license?” It looks a little unofficial, doesn’t it? As it turns out, its a receipt that I take to the photo room where they make the licenses. I felt kind of dumb, but at least I didn’t tell anyone, right?
So now, we have a car and a license. More on vehicle registration next week. (PS – its just as crazy as the license process).