Today was a day of tests!
Wally and I had to go into Montevideo today. It seems that Wally suddenly realized that his Drivers License was not valid for 3 years like he thought but was only good for 2 years! So, it was off to the Capital to get a new one. Our first test of the day happened when we were passing through the toll booth (the Peaje in Spanish). Our discount tag didn't work. The toll normally cost's $50 pesos each way. With our discount it only costs us $10. So rather than shelling out $100 pesos for a roundtrip we pay only $20. That's quite a savings for us. We still had $200 p. left on our account. The problem was the tag had expired. The tags have a small chip in them, allowing them to be read by radio and thus passing the tagged cars through gates faster than a cash transaction would take. The tags have to be renewed every 2 years.
It costs $160 pesos to replace the tag if it becomes damaged or lost. Still even if your tag is okay, the account needs to be renewed every 2 years. That sounds simple enough to do. However, this being Uruguay the land of "red tape" and bureaucracy the answer is, Nooo! If I've never explained how hard it is to get that discount let me say so now. You have to give them a copy of your House Title or rental agreement, notarized!. You need a copy of your property tax bill. A letter of residency stating that you are a "permanent" resident here. That letter has to use the word "permanent" in it! We had to take our letter back to our notary so he could add that word! That letter has to be notarized! You need a copy of your Car Title. Initially you need a current electric bill with your name and address on it. All of this is kept on file.
When Wally went to ask them to sign us up again/renew it, they said we needed a new (current) electric bill which of course we didn't have on us! Also, upon reviewing our file, it seems that they felt, we were missing 1 page from our vehicle title's paper (a car's title has as many or more pages than a house title does) and suddenly, this time around, they didn't feel, they had a proper house title on record from us for our house. They gave Wally a list of things to copy and bring back. They also said they wanted to "see" (again) all of the original titles to verify the copies we would be leaving with them. Many Uruguayans we know have given up on trying to get this discount. Being retired and poor as we tend to be, it is "Vale la pena" (to be worthwhile) to us because of the money saved! Needless to say, that day, we paid the $50 pesos each way. What an annoyance. What a test!
Another test came when our cars's brakes seized up. It was so hot, 93.2 degrees fahrenheit (34C) that the heat combined with the stop and go city traffic caused the (too tight) brakes to expand and bind up. The car wouldn't budge in any gear. We were afraid we would get stuck in the middle of traffic and that we'd have to have the car towed. Fortunately for us when Wally "had" to pull over, we stopped right in front of a parking garage. Wally inched the car into a stall and we parked it with the company.
We then walked to where we were originally going to, a health clinic. At least, we were able to see this lovely tree in bloom. The day was bright, the sky was clear and a deep blue but did I mention it was hot, hot, hot! What a bother. What a test!
To get a driver's License here, you have to get a simple health test in an approved clinic that is set up with the proper paperwork needed by the Driving license board. Not just "any" clinic will do. In the past Wally just walked into the "approved" clinic, waited and then was examined right away. This time he was told that he needed an appointment, Okay, but when he tried to schedule one, even though he was standing "right in front of them" he was told that he had to call in the appointment! We didn't have our cell phone on us. Now this day was really testing Wally's patience! What a challenge. What a test!
We then walked to city hall, and found the drivers licensing department and asked them what Wally might need to get his license besides the health test. They said he would have to make an appointment with them first! However, unlike the health clinic he could schedule one right then,Whew! By now, Wally's feet were beginning to ache. He had made the mistake of trying to look like Don Johnson from "Miami Vice" remember that old TV show? The character wore no socks. Wally had thought he would be driving everywhere instead of walking. Now it was a test of his pain tolerances!
Then, it was time to go home but how were we going get home? What would we do about our car?
After 4 hours of sitting in the garage the car's brakes cooled down enough to get us out of the city. A few times, we had to pull over to let them cool again. On our last pull over and cool down, we stopped at a gas station and there was a mechanic shop next to it. They didn't do brakes but the mechanic agreed to look at them anyway. After a few pokes and some adjusting by him, the brakes worked fine! No more troubles at all! When we asked how much we owed him he said nothing! He saw how, "out of sorts", we had been and he just wanted to help us!
It seems like, just when the red tape, bureaucracy and tests in Uruguay start to overwhelm you, the Uruguayan people come to the rescue! They make it all "Vale la Pena". Uruguay is a great place to live!