For those of you who have waited with baited breath, please brush your teeth (the phrase is actually "bated" breath, a contraction of abated- meaning to hold) and read the following.
Well, thanks to the Midnight Run, this morning I was able to go back downtown, to the Indendencia (City Hall) and with little trouble, presented my documents (cedula, current US driver's license, medical certificate and passport with an arrival stamp less than one year old), paid a fee of about $800 (pesos) and within minutes, received my Uruguay driver's license, good for 2 years. The next one can be for as long as 10 years. Two interesting differences between US and UY licenses. The number of your driver's license is the same number as your cedula and there is no address on your driver's license.
Now, I will tell you why there were so many problems. The facilitator we had hired (Peter Stross) was supposed to help us get our residency and our driver's license, as well. Back in May and June of this year, we started pressing him to finish his job. He had told us all along that we needed to get a translation of the US driver's license into Spanish, which used to be done by the US embassy. Then, according to him, the US embassy stopped doing that. He asked the Intendencia in Canelones (our department) if an exception could be made and have them issue a UY license without the translation. He told us they would not. What seems to have been his problem, is that he didn't know you could easily make the transfer in Montevideo (where he lives). Because of his lack of knowledge, Denise's license expired and was unable to renew by mail out of the country. She is now officially pissed off at Peter. My license would have expired within the week.
So I, at least, am now allowed to operate motor vehicles of no more than 9 passengers legally in Uruguay. Denise, no thanks to Peter Stross, will have to take the test to get hers.
On an interesting side note, while I was on my way home, window shopping a few streets away- I noticed camera crews lining the sidewalk. I stopped, got out my camera and within a few minutes a car pulled up and the new president of UY, Pepe Mujica, stepped out on the sidewalk and entered the building for some kind of meeting. Others followed. But what was interesting was this- here is the president of the country (OK a small country), newly elected, getting out of a car on a crowded street in the middle of the day. There were probably some security people, but I wouldn't bet on it. He seemed to be just some guy getting out of a car at the sidewalk. You got to love a country like that!