In Mexico you need a permit to be able to drive as a foreigner. Now that we are driving, it seemed a good idea to get one. The first time I went to the office, I forgot to bring an official bill. The second time I forgot my passport. By then I started to hate the police lady; she could have told me in advance that my official Mexican ID just isn’t good enough. She never did and just ignored me. Back home I went.The third time I made it past the barking lady. She sent me to a desk at the end of the room. While walking there I saw stacks and stacks of papers that needed filing; thousands of filled in applications just lying around. Makes you wonder. Anyway, at the desk I got the bill. But I have not seen the permit yet? Instead of trying to answer she pointed me to the medical examiner (according to the bill I was going to pay 118 pesos for that). The medical consisted of signing a document in Spanish. I could not understand what I was signing for, except the statement on the bottom: ‘este formato es gratuito’. I was a little puzzled. The medical examiner gave me the next instructions: go to a bank, present them with this bill, pay it and then come back with the proof of payment. My Spanish is not good enough to ask awkward questions; so far I can only ask questions awkwardly. I decided to refrain from that and did as I was told.
In my car I drove to the bank, paid and then drove back to the permit office. I had to pass the barking police women again; she pointed me towards clerk #3. I didn’t want to upset her, so I just went. Bypassing the medical is not bad, is it? I concluded that they must think I look healthy enough to drive and as long as I could write my own name (with reading glasses on) it should be ok.
Anyway, clerk # 3 looked like a nice lady. She asked for all my papers (by now I am carrying a whole lot of forms, passport, bill, and Mexican Id). She started punching away on her keyboard and then the questions came: my name, my address, my blood type, my birth date, my fingerprints and my telephone number… Awkward! I don’t know my phone number by heart. I do not own a mobile phone (actually, that I love!), so I have no numbers of friends or family with me. Where would I call them from? I don’t know my husband’s number by heart, because I can only call him from my home phone and I have the number right there.I tried to explain this to the nice lady. All she heard was: ‘I don’t know’. She sought advice from a colleague on how to deal with me. But no, they needed a number. I desperately tried to improve my Spanish on the spot; I didn’t want to be sent home again after 1.5 hour in the process! Then I heard someone say in perfect English: ‘Need help?’ Relieved I turned around and told the man my problem. He said: ‘Just use my number!’ and he gave it to the nice lady. She didn’t comment, just typed in the number. He turned around and walked to the barking police lady who was now smiling flirtatious at him while he sat down on the chair next to her. I think I may have friends in high places now.
Anyway, clerk #3 printed out another form and gave it to me. I was to go back to the (formerly) barking police woman and then wait. I did. Half an hour later I heard someone call my name. I had to stand in front of a white wall and they took my picture. I was fingerprinted again and then I had to wait again. 10 minutes later I was the proud owner of a driving permit. And to keep it I have to go through the same routine every six months.
Weirdest thing though, nobody ever asked to see my Dutch driver’s license…