This week I have learned how to buy a vehicle, to withdraw funds from my bank account, secure vehicle insurance and how to obtain a Yucatan driver’s license. As it turns out, it was all pretty easy.
Monday morning I walked the approximately 2 kilometers to the Ford dealer on Paseo Montejo and stepped into the open air reception/display area. I was warmly greeted by a young women seated at a desk who promptly contacted one of the sales folks. In short order a fellow named Freddy arrived and escorted me to his office where he explained the standard equipment and options available for the Ford Courier pickup I had indicated I wanted to purchase.
I had already compared small Ford, Chevrolet, VW, Puegot, and Renault trucks through the various manufacturers’ web sites. I had settled on the Ford as it had a greater cargo capacity, larger bed, a 3 year warranty, and was the least expensive. I had also decided to have the truck equipped with a fiberglass camper shell.
After informing Freddy exactly what I wanted he tabulated the total price, including the license and plates. I indicated that I would return the next day with the funds and he indicated he would begin preparing the transaction paperwork.
Tuesday morning I walked to my bank, withdrew the funds from my bank account, something I had not done before, and walked back to the Ford dealer with three large wads of $500 peso bills in my day pack. True to his word Freddy had all the paperwork ready, I stood by while the cashier counted and recounted the money, and Freddy instructed me to return next Monday to pick up the truck. During my two visits to the Ford dealer I had spent less time than spent at the bank withdrawing the funds.
Upon returning to my apartment I sent an email message to my two personal HSBC bankers indicating that I need to arrange insurance. One of the bankers offered to come to my apartment the next day to make arrangements, but I opted to meet them at their office Wednesday at 5:30. Within an hour of my arrival on Wednesday I had secured insurance providing the same coverage as that offered by Ford but at just over half the cost. During the process the fellow writing the policy indicated that for the insurance to be valid I must secure a Yucatan driver’s license and instructed me where I must go to do so.
Thursday morning I caught a bus at the end of the block and road up town. As it turned out the driver’s license office wasn’t where I had been told it was, but in short order a police officer had instructed me on where I needed to go and where to catch a bus to go there. So I bussed on over to the office, waited in line for about 10 minutes, and was informed by a very pleasant licensing officer of what document copies I must provide, a couple of which I needed to obtain from my landlord. On my way back home I stopped at my landlord’s office and picked up the document copies I needed from him.
This morning I again bussed to the driver’s license office, waited in line for another ten minutes, one of the licensing officers examined the document copies, entered the necessary information into the computer system, and directed me down the counter where my vision was checked and my blood type determined and recorded. I then moved on to the exam which consisted of 10 questions, eight of which must be answered correctly. The exam is administered at a computer terminal in both Spanish and English. I passed the computer exam and an examiner asked me to take him to my car for the driving portion of the test. When I informed him that I did not yet have a car, he responded that it was no problem and to return when I did.
The licensing office is quite an efficient operation. Upon entering the office one is directed to a line where one waits for an available agent. The stations one must visit are numbered, with large signs, from 1 to 7 and everyone I dealt with was very pleasant, in fact I would say they were jovial. During my two visits I spent less than a total of one hour. Monday, after picking up my truck, I will return for my driving test and hopefully leave with a license.
I can honestly report that in obtaining my FM 3 visa from the immigration office, opening a bank account and setting up investments through the bank, buying a pickup, securing insurance, and obtaining a driver’s license, everyone I’ve dealt with has been pleasant and efficient.
My approach is to happily wait my turn, break the ice by asking for forgiveness at my often inadequate Spanish, and to comport myself with the recognition that I am the ignorant one here. It seems to work.