Saturday, August 7, 2010
While I am sitting here anxiously awaiting the arrival of my crate...and it's thugs, sorry, it's uhmm..."protectors", I thought I would write a post about our experience at getting a driver's license.
Before we left to come over here we went to AAA and got International Driver's Licenses which are only good for one year. So basically for the last 3 months we have been driving without a valid license which may be similar to many other people here, but that is besides the point! :) Anyway after being here for about a week a date was set aside for us to go with a national helper to get our driver's license.
Now, I was a little nervous about this but many people had said that the whole process was nothing, they may ask a couple of questions, but it was no big deal. No driving test or written test was required. Whew...that's a relief!! So on a sunny, bright, and particularly hot day we drove to their version of the DMV, and if it is any consolation the lines are just as long here as they are in the States!
Fortunately these were new facilities which had a nice covered outdoor seating area. So we sit for a long time while our friend is handling all of the paperwork when all of the sudden Barry says, "Justine, go, they just called your name." I am pretty sure I didn't hear my name but okay, "Where do I go?" So they nudge me toward the policemen sitting at the table with the microphone. With my paper in hand I somewhat sheepishly walk up to them and say that my name was called, so they point to a door. Feeling very out of place I walk through the door and see a table with four policeman with computers and digital cameras on tripods. Everyone looks up at me but nobody says anything. So I smile and stand there like a dork. People get up and go to another room but nobody says a word to me. Finally an officer asks me to sit down, I tell him my name was called, he asks by who, and I say the officer out front. He asks me to move over to the next chair, so I do. Then they flip through a bunch of papers and ask me to sit in the next chair over, so I do that again while other people are occupying my previous seats and getting their licences. Then I look up and another person is waiting for my seat so they ask me to go back out into the waiting area. Now, I am not normally easily intimidated but this was not a comfortable situation, not because they were mean, but because I really couldn't understand them and they would talk and laugh amongst themselves and whether it was about me or not, of course I felt like it was!!
So I go back outside and tell Barry and our friend that they told me to come back out, so our friend goes in there to see what was going on, apparently my name wasn't called or got called out of order. Lovely! Glad I had that little cultural experience to add to my already overloaded file! :)
Not longer after that, both mine and Barry's names were called so we walk in and there is a man standing there and he looks at our cards and sees that we are numbers 61 and 62 and shows us that he is 63 and lets us get in front of him, niiiice! So I sit down get photographed and fingerprinted and they tell me to go to the next room. By this time Barry was already done so I was anxious to find out what was going to happen in the next room. And can I tell you that my jaw literally dropped and hit the floor as I entered and saw a room full of computer screens and there is Barry with headphones on.....TAKING A TEST!! Panic....try to make my self invisible again, which never works, think quick on my feet, but there is nothing to do but move toward the policeman who is showing me where I can sit to take my test. GULP!!
Now, I have to say that you have to click only one of two things, "salah", wrong or "benar", right. However, in my hazy thoughts I cannot process what it is asking me while it shows me little video pictures of cartoon streets and cars! The first five questions I get wrong!! Wrong people!!
Here is the deal, first of all, as far as I can tell, there are no road rules here. There are no speed limits. I have never seen a cop pull anyone over for anything other than to check license of motorcycle drivers. People never stay in marked lanes and will turn in front of you or on all sides of you for that matter! I figure that as long as you don't hurt anyone then whatever you want to do you can! Everyday I see cars and motorcycles driving the wrong way on a road, what in the world can this test be about? Once, it actually had a picture of a truck loaded like the one that brought our furniture in and asked if this was right or wrong, of course I put "right" because those trucks are everywhere...and I got the question WRONG!! The officer said it was packed too high! Seriously?!
I look over at Barry and can tell he is having trouble understanding it too, it was about that time that the officers started walking around and then one stood beside me and one stood beside Barry, and what did they do? They started giving us the answers!! Yep, you heard me! They would give us about two or three answers then walk away, come back and give us a few more!! What a riot!! By this time I was learning to listen to the color of the car they were wanting me to answer about and I had begun getting them right on my own. But I really couldn't believe they helped us so much....and we didn't have to pay them! LOL And in case you wondered, I never saw them help the nationals who were taking their tests!
So in the end we passed, shocker I know, and were awarded our official Macchiato driver's license. Now, if I can just conquer the stick shift, I'll really be going places!!
Last but not least I have a short video clip of us driving in "Folgers". It will give you a taste of driving in Macchiato. If you turn it up you can hear Barry trying to make funny commentary!! LOL Oops! He just came by and read this...he said he wasn't "trying" to make funny commentary but was "successfully" making funny commentary. I say let's let the people be the judge!