This morning we went to the new location to get our first Costa Rican driver licenses. We parked next door at 8:40, and left with our new licenses at 10:25. And that was with some fumbling around. First, as we approched the COSEVI buidling there were guys standing in the street with signs saying "Dictamen médico con parqueo". How fortuitous!
We pulled into one, the last one on the right before COSEVI, and parked. The combination of parking and medical examination for two people was ¢12,000. The guy there also sold us copies of our passports, picture page and most recent entry stamp, and copies of our Texas driver licenses, front and back. That was ¢400 each. The doctor spoke English, asked a bunch of questions, took our blood pressure, asked us to read the bottom row of the eye chart, told me to eat less salt, and approved us both. The doctor also told us to go first to the Banco Nacional next door to COSEVI, pay ¢4,000 for a document which says you have paid for a driver license, and then proceed to the Departamento de Licencias at the far back of the COSEVI compound. It turns out his instructions are correct if you are renewing a Costa Rican driver license, but there is an additional wrinkle if this is your first Costa Rican driver license and you want to get it on the strength of a passport and a foreign driver license.
If you are in this latter category, after you leave the doctor go directly to the Departamento de Licencias and tell them you need to see Marielos (yes, that is a person). You are directed upstairs, and Marielos looks at your passport and foreign driver license. She stamps all of your copies, and sends you back downstairs to Sabarca (also a person). Sabarca looks at Marielos' stamp, and gives you a document which I would call "Permission to get a CR driver license on the strength of a passport and a foreign driver license".
Now go to the bank, show this last document to the bank folk, give them ¢4,000 each, and they give you the piece of paper saying you have paid for a license.
Now go back to the Departamento de Licencias, get your picture taken, and they give you your license. It is this last step which people are saying will be within 15 minutes, and it was very close..