out by the beach in Guanacaste Province. On a good day, it
takes us four hours to drive into San José. OK… I know what
you are asking yourself, “What does San José have to do with
this story?” Well in Costa Rica, all first time drivers
license applicants must go to the COSEVI, Costa Rica’s
equivalent of our DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).
Unfortunately, their only office is located in the San José
suburb of La Uruca. We set our trusty GPS for the
Headquarters and away we went.
time we arrived, the early afternoon monsoon rains were in
full force. We assumed parking was going to be a problem
and (as suspected) we were not proved wrong. We drove up
and down a very busy boulevard but eventually parked in
front of a nearby business. When we did, an armed security
guard swiftly told us that we were not allowed to park
there. Ok, on to the next spot. Again we found a parking
spot and again another armed guard told us we were not
allowed to park there. But at least this guy directed us
across the street to a location where we would be allowed to
parking no longer an issue, we made our way (in the rain) to
the COSEVI offices. There, a young fellow came over and
gave us a piece of paper and directed us inside to an
official looking guy seated at an official looking desk.
Apparently Scott and I looked like two drenched and confused
gringos. But we know we were going to be in great shape
when the man spoke to us in English!
gentleman began by explaining the entire (and somewhat
convoluted) process to us.
Step 1 - Go to the cashier to pay for our medical
documentation and for our blood to be typed. Holy cow… she
spoke English too! Scott and I were now thinking that this
was going to be a piece of cake.
Step 2 - Take our paid receipt to the Doctor’s office just a
few steps away. Again… the doctor even spoke English. We
did the usual height, weight, blood pressure and vision
Step 3 - Move to the next room we had our blood typed. All
drivers licenses in Costa Rica must contain a person’s blood
type in the event of an accident. We’re batting 1000%...
even he spoke English.
Step 4 - Returned to the original cashier and she made
copies of all our documents that we would need. This
included all the pages of each of our passports (including
the blank pages) , our Cedula (if you have one), our U.S.
Drivers License (both sides) and the medical form the doctor
just filled out.
we got all the medical stuff out of the way we now needed to
get our actual license. But when we asked the nice guy at
the desk where to go, he told us that (unfortunately) that
office is only open from 7:00 - 11:00 AM. Well, that ship
had already sailed! Thank goodness we planned ahead and had
already decided to make this trek to San José an
good night’s rest and visiting with friends who lived
nearby, we were up bright and early and ready for the
challenges this new day would bring.
at COSEVI’s main gate right on time and were directed (in Spanglish), to where we needed to go. We found the line to
stand in and began our wait. Soon we realized that the
doors don’t actually open until 8:00. Oh well… not a
waited patiently on line I was beginning to feel a bit
anxious, worrying about all the things I was told by my
gringo friends back home. I was beginning to think that
maybe we did not have everything we needed. As my anxiety
was growing, I struck up a conversation with a gringa (North
American woman) standing just in front of us. She shared by
fears (in near perfect Spanish) with a nearby COSEVI
employee. She reported back to us that we were fine except
we were standing in the wrong line. Not a problem for the
line we needed to be in was very short.
at 8:00 am the doors opened. We were directed to go over
and wait in line at cubicle #10. There was only one other
person in front of us. Again we lucked out, for the girl
behind the desk who was entering all our information into
the computer, also spoke English. When she was finished,
she handed us a slip of paper with verbal instructions to go
pay for our license at the bank. Now as great as this
process was going (so far), this part seemed ridiculous to
me but then I remembered where I am… I’m is Costa Rica, the
land of the inefficient process!
We now had
to exit the COSEVI, and walk next door to the Banco
Nacional. There we stood in their line, paid for our
licenses, and returned to the COSEVI. Thank goodness the
lines were short and the daily rains had not yet started.
paid receipt in hand, we are now back at Cubicle # 10 where
we had our pictures taken and licenses issued. Only one
problem, Scott’s picture was on my license and my picture
was on his. After sharing a big laugh over the mistake our
pictures were retaken and new (correct) licenses were
undertook this adventure, Scott and I were
extremely apprehensive. Based on what we
had heard from our friends, we were scared that
this was going to turn into some sort of game
changing event. But in the end we were
pleasantly surprised. I think this
experience was great for my confidence.
To accomplish such a process driven task as
this, in a foreign country where we don’t speak the
language, made us feel that if we can do it… anyone can.
Also I strongly believe that even if we did not encounter
any English speaking employees, the Ticos who surrounded us
were very friendly and very willing to help us.
this is all over, I feel we can do damn near anything.
BRING IT ON!
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