More $$$ More Problems
Captain and I had asked Lady Lingo to assist us with paperwork in Muisne. On the drive, we made small talk and asked her many questions about living in Ecuador. Lingo informed us that we must obtain an Ecuadorian driver’s license. She stated that we must either go to driving school or pass the written test. “Driver’s test?” I shouted. “Yes,” Lingo replied. “You must know the driving laws of Ecuador!” I was dumbfounded. “There are driving laws here?!”
There was one more final step for our paperwork so we found ourselves on our way to Muisne yet again, this time without the assistance of Lingo. It sure has been nice having our own vehicle. Old Yeller is hanging in there. I don’t want to toot his horn but he has been real good to us. As if our rare blonde hair and blue eyes don’t create enough attention, driving around in our golden chariot sure does! It is hard to miss that ole’ beast on the road!
Cruising along with Old Yeller and Captain, I was gazing out the window thinking about our amazing Ecuadorian adventure and how it’s all so surreal.
All of a sudden Captain hit the brakes and Yeller slowed to a roll. I noticed the men in camouflage stopping traffic. Many times on the road the Army men are searching large vehicles for drugs and illegal Colombians. I got out our passports to prove our legal visit to the country. Often we are waved pass but this time was different. The transit police were also present. We have had a run in with these guys before…
The first man took Captain’s passport and then asked for license and registration. We handed all of Old Yeller’s papers over. The transit cop insisted Captain give him his license. Until now, no one had ever asked for it, not even the rental car place. The cop held onto Captain’s passport and told us pull over. Captain did as was ordered and turned Old Yeller off. I begin thinking worse case scenario…
One of the young Army men was peeping his head through our window with a great big smile. Captain was talking with him about us moving to Ecuador and all I could think about was Captain going to jail. I don’t want to even imagine Ecuadorian prison…
Within a few minutes there were four transit cops at Captain’s window. They were all telling him he had to have a license; the cops made it very clear this was the law. Despite our excuse of having left it in our apartment, the cops didn’t care. The law was to have a license. The most angry cop kept crossing his wrists, saying “arresto” and pointing at the cop car. “Oh my god!” I am saying to myself. “Captain is going to jail. Do I go too? Maybe the Lada can outrun the cops! Bad idea…and definitely not! They have his passport anyways. Would they just let us drive back to our place and get Captain’s license? Will I drive the car home? I don’t have my license either! Did we even bring our licenses to Ecuador?!”
My anxiety grew as Angry Cop was more adamant for Captain to get out of the car. “Let’s call someone!” This was my brightest idea. I thought if the cop could talk to a Spanish-speaking person, this situation could all be sorted out with no one going to jail! I grabbed the phone and searched for Lingo’s number. No service?!? Of course not! The cops all stood outside the window pointing to the sky, saying, “no servico.” Was this their plan?
I noticed Captain handing over my passport. Why the hell is he handing over my passport now?! It suddenly occurred to me-he was playing our $10 ‘Get-Outta-Jail’ Card. When the cop opened up my passport and saw Alexander Hamilton staring back at him, he squealed, “Oyyyyeee!” The cop slipped the $10 bill out of my passport and into his pocket. Our passports were handed back and the officers sent us on our way with a heartfelt farewell.
I am always amazed at how calm Captain is in these high stress situations; perhaps it is just my anxiety causing me to think the worst. When I asked Captain how he was so chill through this whole situation he said, “I was seeing how long these cops would hold out before we paid them…I definitely wasn’t getting out of the car!” Situations like this are so very frustrating. I feel paying the cops only contributes to further corruption and bullying of gringos. But Captain reminds me he was in the wrong. “I didn’t have my license. $10 to the cops beats a $100 fine or worse, a few nights in Ecuadorian jail. I bet they don’t filter the water there!”
From what I understand, a foreign driver’s license is good for 90 days. Once you receive your cedula, you can apply for an Ecuadorian license which of course is a pain in the a$$ like most legal processes here in Ecuador. Copies of your driving record from your home country (translated, notarized and apostiled) as well as a copy of your driver’s license as necessary. I am not clear on the current laws but surely what the people below are doing is not legal!
While the cops were hassling Captain, here is what was happening down the road.
This is all you need to know about driving in Ecuador:
1. Be a defensive driver. Double yellow lines mean nothing and being passed on the left and right is common!!!
2. Keep your eyes on the road at all times. It’s hard telling what will be around the bend. Dogs, chickens, children, cattle, monster speed bumps…
3. Always make sure you carry 10 bucks in case you are breaking “the law”.
How about this enforced law. The driver of motorbikes must wear a helmet.
Thank you all for your comments on our picture of the week.
Our favorite comes from Kim in Arizona:
Tired of losing every race, Juan decided to install nitrous. “Hit the NOS, Pedro!”
(Close second from Brandon in Colorado) “I’m a rocket maaannnn!”
Pic of the Week: Please share your best captions!!!
We continued on our way to Muisne and finalized everything with our property. The island of Muisne has so much potential, as with most places along Ecuador’s northern coast. The wide beach stretches for miles and while we were there, there were only a handful of other people on the beach. My thoughts were focused on my vision for our adventure and wellness retreat. My anxious mind often creates doubt, “will we have enough money to build our dream? Will I be a successful entrepreneur? Who will see the benefit of my services?” Recognizing my negative thoughts, I took a deep breathe in and glanced down. “A sand dollar!!!” I yelled to Captain. Taking another step forward, there was another. And another. And another. Every step I took I found another dollar. Was this a sign from the Universe of our great success to come?