Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Baby, I Can Drive Your Car

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Well, I did it. I finally got my Ecuadorian driver's license.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been to driving school here. My US license has expired--we're going back to the States next month--and I needed to be legal.

After waiting several weeks I received notification that my paperwork had come back from Quito so I went to the school to pick up my packet of info. The good folks there wanted to set up an appointment immediately to take my exam (it happens the next day) but I declined because I hadn't even studied yet.

All 103 possible multiple choice questions (in Spanish) are published online, so I went through the whole list once to refresh my memory. Twenty are included on the test--ten verbal and ten road signs. You can also take as many practice tests as you need online. Each time a different set of questions appears, but I quickly noticed that there was a lot of duplication. You are always asked about driving on the right, passing on the left, the colors of a traffic light, and several others.

The signs are a breeze. You don't even need to know Spanish to understand what a person on a bicycle with a diagonal line through it means. After several run-through's of the practice test convinced me I couldn't miss more than the four wrong answers allowed, I set up my appointment on the website and showed up the following morning.

When you live in Ecuador awhile you come to understand that anything involving paperwork rarely goes smoothly the first time. This time proved to be no exception. I waited in line for my turn, took a quick vision test, then sat down with one of the processors when my number came up. She went through all of my documents and discovered that the administrator of the driving school had failed to sign my diploma.

Sigh--no test for me today.

Four years ago I would have been highly upset about this. I'd gotten all geared up mentally and ridden clear across town to take the test. Now I just got up and said, "OK, see you tomorrow."

The following morning I walked to the school, got the document signed, took a taxi back to the transit building, stood in line again, received a number, got processed, and sat down at a computer. I got the first 19 right and missed the last one on purpose just for the hell of it. Ten minutes later I walked out with license in hand.


To reiterate, we love our pedestrian lifestyle and have zero plans to own a car in Cuenca. I hope to never even drive someone else's vehicle here. But the US suburbs beckon and now I'm ready.


TerryE said...

Just over a year ago, I went through the same process, only difference was, that my 'diploma' was signed. In my 3-1/2 years in Ecuador I've never seen a more efficient and organized process. Get "to do" list, make the correct copies, pay at bank (right next door), take eye test, get papers checked, take drivers test, sit for photo, walk out with license. I challenge any DMV office in the US to be so efficient............

Edd Staton said...

Terry, thanks for confirmation that I'm not making this stuff up!