Friday, May 22, 2015

I'm Built For Speed

I am never one to complain about Spain. I love living here in my adopted home. I have felt welcome wherever I go and I've been  treated warmly and kindly. If I can generalise, the people I've met in my nearly four years here are some of the most wonderful people I've ever met. I love the culture, the history, the beauty, the food. I could go on and on.

"BON-BONS FOR THE BEST!"
I won't even really complain much about the bureaucracy. As far as I'm concerned, bureaucracy is no different here than anywhere I've lived in the States. In most cases, I've actually found it much easier to navigate.

Until, that is, we looked into obtaining Spanish driver's licenses.

After six months of legal residency, we were required to obtain Spanish driver's licenses. Since we don't have a car and have no intention of buying one, it hasn't been a major pressure. But whenever we rent a car, we're breaking the law if we drive with our US licenses. And San Geraldo is not one to ever break the law. (I, on the other hand, am a rehabilitated former New Yorker.) 

I won't theorise here about why this process has gone so wrong — although San Geraldo and I have privately theorised plenty. Instead, I'll just share a little bit of what San Geraldo has gone through.

Some Highlights
  • Spain's Driving Code is 302 pages (just the code). Only officials are privy to the contents.
  • Spain has 16 classes/types of driver's licenses. By comparison, California has five.
  • There are two English versions of standard driving manuals to prepare one for the teórico (written exam). They are badly written, badly translated, badly edited, and inconsistent. 
  • You are required to use an official driving school (Auto Escuela).
  • If you would like to take practice teóricos, you must purchase 3-months' access online from a private service or you can use the practice tests assembled by your driving school, which are compiled from conversations with students after they take their tests and, therefore, based on the memories of student drivers.
  • If you fail the written test, you are not told what you got wrong.
  • The cost of the Auto Escuela and other fees run to more than 1,000 euros.
  • There is no "learner's permit"; you can only drive with your Auto Escuela instructor on one of the school's dual-control cars (and pay per lesson). 
  • If you take the test on a car with an automatic transmission (most Auto Escuelas don't even have these), you are only licensed to drive a car with automatic transmission. You must be tested on a manual transmission to have a license that allows you to drive both.


The Nutshell
About 9 months ago, San Geraldo took a required medical exam; he then enrolled in an American-speaking driving school in Fuengirola; "fired" that driving school; joined an English-speaking driving school in Fuengirola; passed the written exam; took one driving "lesson"; fired that driving school; joined a Spanish-speaking driving school in Fuengirola— a very pleasant driving school this time but he needed a bi-lingual instructor; so he took a breather.

Less than two weeks ago, he joined a driving school in Marbella; he loved the instructor; he took about six practice drives; and Tuesday he took the test.

He passed!!!

To celebrate San Geraldo's success, Kristina gave him a driving-themed tin of chocolate bombones (bon-bons). She also gave him a bottle of chocolate sauce in which to dip the bombones. He said he would simply dump everything into a bowl and eat it with a spoon. (Click either image to increase the sweetness.)

I couldn't stomach the idea of going through any of this (including eating bombones and chocolate sauce with a spoon), so I'll just hitch rides with San Geraldo.

Simply Speed Limits
THERE'LL BE A QUIZ MONDAY.
(SO CLICK TO ENLARGE.)

Built For Comfort

22 comments:

  1. I am afraid I'm with you - I would walk, bike and take public transportation instead. Sounds a bit like having your fingernails pulled out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheapchick:
      I'd probably be more successful going through with having my nails pulled out. I can't believe San Geraldo's stamina and durability!

      Delete
  2. Geez, they don't make it easy! Maybe that is a good thing considering safety for all, I guess.
    Congrats to SG for passing the exam! I hope he shared his chocolate gift with you too.
    I can see you two cruising down the highway to that tune!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim:
      I didn't say they produce the best drivers. They just make it the most difficult and expensive to get a license. San Geraldo has been well-behaved. I've eaten most of the tin of chocolate. Of course, the bottle of chocolate sauce is unopened and may end up mixed with his cottage cheese one morning!

      Delete
  3. Nice that you'll no longer be law-breaking ex-pats, eh?
    Though jumping through all those hoops would have made me insane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob:
      Since we learned for certain we were breaking the law, we have not once rented a car. That's San Geraldo for you! I can't believe Jerry had the patience to see this through. I couldn't have and I certainly don't have the confidence to go through that. My hero!

      Delete
  4. On the upside all the palaver involved in passing the driving test over here tends to make the Spanish considerate, steady headed and safe drivers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tynan:
      Exactly. The best drivers in the world. Um...

      Delete
  5. Congratulations San G! When in Spain I'd.... call a cab, lol.

    Love the video, it's absolute perfection! It sure bounces. =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jacqueline:
      The roads are still safe here. San Geraldo can't drive until he receives a temporary certificate (maybe 2 weeks). Then, about 2 weeks later, his license will come in the mail. Then, pedestrian beware.

      Delete
  6. Persistence paid off! Good for SG!

    Here in Belize, you can't even apply for a Belize driver's license until you are a Belize resident; all you need is a valid license from another country and your passport. We have been here for nearly 2.5 years and Dennis is still waiting to hear if his residency will be approved; he submitted all the paperwork and had his interviews back in October. I, on the other hand, have traveled out Belize for too many days to meet the criteria to even apply. I will apply in July. You are right that every country has its own bureaucratic hurdles, and like you, we love living in our adopted country. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wilma:
      And then I'm told of countries where you don't even have to know how to drive. You just show identification and you're given a license!

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. John:
      I'll send them to you when San Geraldo is finished with them.

      Delete
  8. Mitchell interesting post. Speed limits in Poland are very strict.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosia:
      Speed limites here are very confusing.

      Delete
  9. Holy cow. I think things are similar in France, in terms of having to pay (a hefty fee) for auto-école, and having a confusing written test. HUGE congratulations to Monsieur Saint Gérald!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judy:
      I didn't know that about France. I know a lot of the confusion came with the EU. But Spain, I've read, has the most complicated and difficult process in all Europe. I still don't think I could survive the process.

      Delete
  10. I would not have the stamina for this so I would break the law ~~~ there I said it ~~~ now handcuff me and take me away!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ron:
      Don't think I didn't suggest that to San Geraldo. I told him we'd have to get stopped and ticketed at least five times to spend as much as he did for the license.

      Delete
  11. Congratulations San Geraldo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Knatolee:
      Thanks! He looks kind of cute in his helmet and goggles.

      Delete

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