Well, at least I take back most of the bad things I said about the MOPT the other day. If you recall, that’s the Costa Rican equivalent of a DMV. And I had to renew my license there last Thursday.
The amazing thing? I got in and out of the office in about 5 minutes. Yes, that’s right, friends, it’s no typo: five (5) minutes!
How in the world could this be, you may ask? I’ll tell you: I knew the secret password. It goes a little something like this: “Buenas, soy el yerno de Honorio” (“Afternoon, I’m Honorio’s son-in-law”). Once again, in Costa Rica, it’s not about what you know, it’s all about who you know, and in this case, my father-in-law happened to be friends with the guy who prints the licenses. So, quick hi, an introduction, presentation of some documents, quick flash, and I’m out the door.
Contrast that with the first time I got a license here, when I had to go all the way to San José, taking a whole day off work. I went to the dilapitated central building in a sketchy part of town and got in line. I was about the 130th person (I counted). I waited over two hours, standing in line and reading my newspaper, and when I was about the 25th person or so, they made the announcement that “the system was down.” We could all get a piece of paper with a stamp on it, and we were welcome to come back the next day.
After inquiring and realizing that the stamp meant nothing, and not wanting to take another day off of work to stand in line again, I just stood there. I asked to talk to a manager and was directed to an enormous woman talking on a cell phone. I walked over to her with another guy who was also pissed off about the situation (turns out he was from Miami), and when the woman saw us coming towards her, she went into her office. We waited outside her office with our arms crossed, talking shit for about a half hour. It was about 3:45, I believe–close to closing time!–when a girl came up to us and told us she’d try to start up the system again.
She flicked some switch, and whatever was wrong before was now right. They took our documents and our picture, and our licenses came out about 3 minutes later. So easy!
In any case, you can hopefully understand how I was quite skeptical about my upcoming MOPT experience last week but, as I said, it went wonderfully quick, and I must admit that I was quite wrong. In fact, the shock on my face in the picture basically says, “Oh my God, is this seriously happening?!”
Good work, MOPT. Now I just need a password like that to use at the Ministerio de Migración.
PS – As you notice, in my picture I’m growing out a rather objectionable “protest beard.” I’m doing this to protest against the junta de agua de Berlín, which is the entity that was shutting off our water every afternoon around 4 or 5, until the following morning, for four months or so. But that’s another story. And for some reason, every time I think of the phrase “protest beard,” I get Bob Marley’s song Redemption Song in my head, but the chorus now goes like: “All I ever wear / protest beard / protest beard / beard of freedom.”
The pig flu seems to have hit my mind first…