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Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Cheeks, Beaks and Eyeballs?
Friday, July 20, 2018
You got one shot

Adventures in driving
With all the clients we’ve had over the years, we get a lot of comments about drivers here in Mexico. It does take some getting used to driving and owning a car down here.

But, if you ever wonder about Mexican drivers, I can sum it up pretty easily. Basically, to get a driver’s license, you don’t need to know how to drive!

Now, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

That’s right. No driving school or Driver’s Ed required. And the driver was probably taught by his or her dad or brother, who likely also didn’t get any formal instruction.

CRAZY DRIVERS AREN’T uncommon in Mexico.

There’s no actual driving test either.

No need to prove you know where or how to stop. You don’t have to demonstrate the ability to park or how to do that crazy “Y” maneuver from the curb. Nope.

There is a written test.

Yup. But from what I can tell, it’s more like “show and tell” time. Open book.

Everyone helps everyone. Got a problem? Can’t read? Ask the guy next to you. Had a certain roadside experience? Share it with your neighbors! Bring family and friends along to help you too. Need glasses? For what? Not important.

Proof of insurance? What’s that?

You do have to give a blood sample! That’s right. You go across the street from the local Transito Office (DMV) and there are little clinics there. You go give a little blood sample. You bring the results with you driver’s licenses application.

I have no idea why. My employees at our Tailhunter Restaurant are also required to give a blood sample. I guess I understand that. No communicable diseases, right?

But giving blood to get a driver’s license? Maybe to make sure it’s red. To make sure you’re alive? To see if you’re a vampire? It’s just a little pinprick, but it always cracked me up.

Once you have all the forms filled out, you go get in line. Actually, about four different lines. One to submit the forms. Another to pay. You take the receipt and go back to the first line to show proof that you paid.

Then a different line to get your photo taken.

By the way, no smiling allowed. Or hats or glasses. Must look serious. You must look like a guy on the Post Office Most Wanted list.

Actually, it’s like that for all official Mexican documents. That includes passports, work visas, immigration papers…no smiling allowed! Including Sam’s Club and COSTCO membership too!

I’m kind of a naturally smiley guy. We all like to have nice photos on our passports and driver’s licenses and other cards, right? I mean we have to stare at them in our wallets for a couple of years, don’t we? Friends and family ask to see them all the time to make fun of us.

I’ve been told to “cut it out” whenever I try to give ’em a goofy mug shot.

And they are NOT smiling when they scolded me! That usually makes me smile even more when I get scolded like a little school kid. So, I think of sour milk and stepping on dog poo to get myself into the right “frame of mind.”

Like any DMV, this whole process can take hours.

And there’s no chairs. Or air-conditioning. Although there’s cart vendors outside selling hot dogs, Cokes, coffee and snacks.

However, you can expedite all of this if you know a guy who knows a guy. There are “facilitators” hanging around. Or one can be recommended to you.

The last few times I went, they were off-duty cops making some dinero on the side. One was a lieutenant. Another was a detective. Everyone seemed to know them. Lots of high-fives and hand dubs.

Wassup? How’s the family? What did you think of the soccer game? You up for a beer later?

THAT’s the kinda guy to follow around!

You pay them. THEY will stand in line FOR YOU! How cool is that?

Or, even better, the good ones have “inside connections.” They fill out your forms for you. When it’s your time, they walk you right to the front of the line.

It’s a bit awkward because you step right in front of folks who might have been waiting over an hour to get to a window. You can feel them scowling at your back.

But, you’re marched from one line to the next. You don’t ask questions. You just go where your facilitator directs you.

You say “Si” and “Gracias” appropriately to every person along the way. You sign whatever they tell you to sign. You do not smile when they take your photo.

No goofing around. The facilitator is not there to waste time. He’s there to get you in…and out. So he can get another “client.”

You pay them your pre-arranged fee and you’re also expected to tip them at the end for working you through the system!

But you get out fast and easy and you’re on your way to hit the road…

With all the other qualified drivers out there!

* * *

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