Thursday, November 19, 2009
Getting Your Driving Permit
One of the joys of adolescence is looking forward to the day you can drive the family car and be free of your dependence on parents and friends to get you from A to B. In the formerly white city, this phenomenon means a visit to the Modulo de Licencias which is run by the police people. There is the main branch at the ex-penitentiary where you can also do more complicated paperwork such as changing vehicle ownership and license plate renewal, and the branch in north Merida, located in the parking lot of the Siglo XXI convention center.
The process involves presenting a series of papers, including, but no limited to, proof of address, a notarized letter that specifies parental consent and responsibility in the case of a minor, and official ID. Copies of everything are required. Once the reception guy has seen your papers, you are assigned a turno, which is a number and then you wait for that number to get called.
Once your number is called, you proceed inside where your papers are checked again and then you move on to an eye exam, which is just looking through the little machine and reading out loud the letters that are shown to you.
Next step, blood type. This info appears on your permit or license and is handy in the case of an accident, providing you have your license on you when you smash up the car. If you don't know it, a little prick in the finger and your blood is identified right there and then.
Then, fingerprinting. As you can see in the photo above, it is necessary to post a sign advising people NOT to wipe their fingers on the walls; but rather on a tissue given to you for that purpose. It is a great demonstration of the civic values of the fomerly white citys' citizens that such a sign is even necessary.
After that, a test, which used to be written but is now administered in a separate room by way of a computer program. Here, several policemen mill about and joke with the test-taker in an ambiance of frivolity not to be found in similar situations in places like say, Vancouver.
The fun part after that, providing you pass, is the barralell parking test, which involves another officer watching the future Yucatecan road menace attempt over and over to parallel park between two large plastic drums. This is interesting because a) the barrels are not that far apart, b) you can't necessarily see the barrels depending on your vehicle and c) the parallel parking is done on the LEFT SIDE, a highly unusual situation in most countries that feature vehicular traffic. You can bang into those barrels several times and if you finally get it right, you proceed to pay your fee and you are now licensed to kill on the highways and byways of the Yucatan.
Posted by William Lawson at Thursday, November 19, 2009