Or should that be car mis-adventures?!?
The other day, David was driving our friends’ car, and managed to inadvertently and unknowingly (are those two different?) park in a loading zone somewhere in downtown San Ramon while doing errands. As a result, he got a parking ticket.
Okay, sounds like no big deal, right?
Well, this is Costa Rica, where they seem to specialize in complicating otherwise simple things. So, instead of writing out a nice little paper ticket and sticking it on his windshield, the cops took the license plates. Yes. Took them.
David discovered just a little while later that they were gone and assumed they’d been stolen. (We do, after all, live in a country rife with petty crime and it wouldn’t be the first time among our crowd that plates have been stolen.)
We were figuring out how to deal with that when somehow he finally found the “note” that the police had left for him. We initially took that as really good news — seemed simpler to get them back from the local transito office than to have to cancel and replace stolen plates at the registro which we’ve heard can be a huge ordeal.
Ooops, ordeal time just starting. We went back in to town together that same afternoon, after dropping our own car at Javier, the mechanic’s — which is why he was driving our friends’ car in the first place! — and then went to the transito office.
Stood around in this haphazard line (haphazard enough that some ticos cut right in front of us, apparently “not realizing” we were in line) for a while. A little more standing around when I happened to notice the hours and see that they closed not at 5, or even 4, but at 3 o’clock! It was quarter till at that point, so was clearly impossible that they were going to get to us before they closed up shop for the day. We gave up and came home, noting that they did open at 7 in the morning.
So, the next morning at 7 on the dot David was there at the office, only to find that we seemingly needed a power of attorney since it’s not OUR car in order to reclaim the plates. We had the registration and everything, but still.
So, David came back home in time for a meeting we had here at 9 and then caught a ride into town with those folks who kindly took him to Roger (our attorney)’s office for the 11 am meeting that had now been set, in hopes of getting said POA.
Not so simple.
Roger went with David to the transitos this time, in hopes of clarifying the situation that we were all “partners” (to see if he couldn’t make a strong enough “connection” for them that we could act in this simple manner for our friends who are, indeed, co-owners with us in land here) and see what could be worked out. They were not able to get off the idea that they would only relinquish the plates to our friends, physically, or if they were in possession of a POA document that they could acquire in Boston (our friends live in Maine!) at the consular office there. (Yeah, right.)
Luckily, Roger did get them to agree to hold the plates here in San Ramon instead of sending them to San Jose after 8 days as they usually would. This will HUGELY simplify our collecting the plates once our friends arrive in January.
Roger also came up with the idea to go with David this next week and “contest” the ticket — or, more accurately, the fine. Now that fines are so crazy — THIS fine is $250, for a PARKING TICKET!!! — contesting them has become a national pastime.
The government really is due to reduce the fines in January (we’ll see), so as long as there’s an official complaint on the books, then seemingly we won’t actually have to pay it when we pay the marchamo (the annual tax) on our friends’ car later this month. (This is their wonderful, very practical solution to getting folks to pay their parking tickets — they’re added on to your annual tax so there’s no choice except to pay the if you want to keep a currently-registered and legal car! And they are, indeed, VERY aggressive about stopping and impounding cars without their current sticker!)
In any case, we’ll pay the fine whenever and whatever it is, so that’s not a huge thing (if for some reason the contesting it doesn’t work) but sure would be nice if we ended up paying a lower amount next year.
Now, all of that means, of course, that our friends’ car’s plates will be patiently waiting for them whenever they arrive in January. We’ll then get Roger to help us (if we need) to take them in to retrieve them! In the meantime, our incredibly helpful “spare car” is no longer incredibly helpful.
Javier, our trusty mechanic, is aware of our plight now and is doing what he can to make the needed repairs to our car as quickly as possible, and we’ll just muddle along car-less until then. We are blessed with dear friends who have already made multiple offers (several already utilized!) to take us into town as needed.
So, car adventures — surely a sub-set of LIFE adventures! — continue.
And, yes, probably definitely on the “we won’t miss” list…..