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Courtesy Costa Rica Living
By Jim Booth

75th birthday - time to renew my drivers license.

Flora and I Drive to Heredia - park in the Doral commercial parking lot - cost ¢370 per hour - take red and yellow mini bus to end of line in San Josè - Ave 2 - calle 8 - cost ¢550 PP. I NEVER drive to San Josè unless absolutely necessary. The mini busses run as fast as they can load up - get there as fast as I can when driving and without the need to find a parking place and the hastle to fight the traffic. There is no standing on a mini bus - they cost a wee bit more than the biggies - everyone MUST be seated and I have never heard of any pickpockets operating on mini buses. For you Furriners aboard - the exchange rate is about 515 colones to a dollar.

Take taxi to the MOPT building* (still cheap) Upon approaching area - driver cautions us to be careful with the multitude of persons hanging around the front entrance offering their services - who we have no need for in the first place. They are there mostly to steer you to a medical office. There are a whole bunch of them! Lotsa competition.

We go into the closest medical office - directly across the street from the MOPT building - on the corner. Good choice - Got INSTANT service ** - filled out a short form and was attended by a young Doctora - got the most thorough pre license exam received to date - Cost C5000. On a previous pre license exam - about 14 years ago - I discovered that I was almost blind in my right eye - was able to fake it though and passed the exam . Had a cataract operation shortly afterwards.

With Doctors certificate in hand we cross the street and enter the building - which looks about the same on the outside as it did 24 years ago. Not much difference inside - same LONG lines - now with computers and more modern equipment and procedures.

I go to the first uniformed security guard - there are a lot of them - about as many as there are other employees. I politely request him to assist me to renew my license as a persona de la tercer edad. He happily does so and immediately escorts me to the head of the first station, where a lady has just completed her transaction - they immediately began processing me.

From there it was the same - another security guard immediately escorted me to the next station - the cashier - where I was given instant attention. I paid the ¢10,000 and was escorted to the final station where I was photographed and fingerprinted and then asked to sit in a nearby chair until my name was called about 10 minutes later. Total time between medical and processing for license: about 1 hour.

* MOPT does not stand for Minister Of Public Transportation - - - - it stands for Ministerio de Obras Pùblicas y Transporte.

** Before being able to receive a drivers license it has always been necessary to present a recent Certificado Mèdico para Licencias de Conducir. Prior to approximately 1990 this could only be obtained through a Caja doctor as private doctors were not authorized to perform the exam. In Heredia the procedure was that a limited number of exams - i.e. 15 or 20 would be performed each morning at the Caja office at 7:AM. This meant that on different occasions I had to arrive prior to 6:AM or earlier to (hopefully) be examined. Once I was turned away as I was patient number 22 and I had to return the following day at around 5:AM (I was not the first in line - some had arrived at 4:AM).

This was later changed to permit certain private doctors to perform the procedure. Now, I believe that all medical doctors are eligible to perform the required exam. In San Josè and other cities in Costa Rica where drivers licenses are obtained, one will encounter MANY doctor´s/medical offices.

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