How to get a license (or not) / Cómo obtener un carnet (o no)

La versión en español está después de la verión en inglés.

I HAD COFFEE WITH TYNAN this morning and told my Tráfico story. I think the telling helped me shorten this post from the Michener version it had initially become (although not by much). When San Geraldo’s delightful sister tells us stories, her husband Tom is often heard to say in the background, “Linda, they don’t need the Michener version.” We think it’s hilarious; Linda, not so much.

I didn’t want to drive to Tráfico yesterday; first, because I was afraid I was going to drive home, officially, without a license. San Geraldo wanted to drive me, but I reminded him that our parking lot (first-come, first-serve) would probably fill up with weekenders by Friday afternoon. We try to not use the car on weekends in July and hardly at all in August. So, I took the train.

The walk to Tráfico from the station is about 21 minutes and mostly through the Málaga fairgrounds. With my stop at Café El Duende to enjoy a cup of coffee and see Lolo and Lara, the walk was less than 18 minutes.

I was permitted to enter the building 10 minutes before my 1:40 appointment. I then took a number and waited about 15 minutes. The agent I met was warm and friendly. He looked me up in the database and, after a bit of hunting and pecking, looked perplex and said, “One moment.” He went into someone’s office and one moment became 10 minutes. “Oh crud,” I thought.

When he returned, he said, “Mitchell, you had a license in the United States, correct?” I said yes, and showed him my expired California license. “You shouldn’t have done all this. All you need to do is get the paperwork from the United States to transfer your license.” This isn’t true. Spain does not have a reciprocal agreement with the United States. I politely told him although that was how it worked with many other countries, it didn’t work that way with the USA. Apparently, his boss didn’t agree. I told him the process for Americans in Spain, and that my husband had done more than 5 years ago exactly what I had done recently.

He was a bit insistent and I asked him if the rules had changed (I knew they hadn’t). Meanwhile, I could see him printing and stamping my temporary license and I breathed a sigh of relief, he explained that I should still get the paperwork from the US for my American license or my car insurance would be exhorbitant. Also, not true. There was a bit more to the discussion.

My only guess is that some bureaucrat saw in my file that I had an American license. That bureaucrat didn’t understand the requirements for an American obtaining a Spanish license and decided to put a hold on issuing my license. As San Geraldo might say, “Jeez Louise”!

But all that matters is I’m licensed to drive. Now I’ll see if I can get an international license with only a temporary Spanish license in case I need it when I’m in the States in August. Today’s photos are of yesterday’s travel adventure. The top photo is a longer view of the Traffic Department building — which to me makes it look less like a dog and more like a prison (although I thought the comparison to a dog was brilliant).

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TOMÉ CAFÉ CON TYNAN ESTA mañana y conté mi historia de Tráfico. Creo que el relato me ayudó a acortar esta entrada de la versión de Michener en la que se había convertido inicialmente (aunque no por mucho). Cuando la encantadora hermana de San Geraldo nos cuenta historias, a menudo se escucha a su marido Tom decir de fondo: “Linda, no necesitan la versión de Michener.” Creemos que es muy gracioso; Linda, no tanto. [NOTA: Michener fue un autor estadounidense que escribió novelas épicas].

Ayer no quería conducir hasta Tráfico; primero, porque tenía miedo de conducir a casa, oficialmente, sin licencia. San Geraldo quería llevarme en auto, pero le recordé que nuestro estacionamiento (por orden de llegada) probablemente se llenaría de personas de fin de semana para el viernes por la tarde. Intentamos no utilizar el coche los fines de semana de julio y casi nada en agosto. Entonces, tomé el tren.

El paseo hasta Tráfico desde la estación es de unos 21 minutos y principalmente a través del recinto ferial de Málaga. Con mi parada en Café El Duende para disfrutar de una taza de café y ver a Lolo y Lara, la caminata fue de menos de 18 minutos.

Se me permitió entrar al edificio 10 minutos antes de mi cita de la 13:40. Luego tomé un número y esperé unos 15 minutos. El agente que conocí fue cálido y amable. Me buscó en la base de datos y, después de cazar y picotear un poco, pareció perplejo y dijo: “Un momento.” Entró en la oficina de alguien y un momento se convirtió en 10 minutos. “Oh mierda,” pensé.

Cuando regresó, dijo: “Mitchell, tenías un carnet en los Estados Unidos, ¿correcto?” Le dije que sí y le mostré mi carnet de California vencida. “No deberías haber hecho todo esto. Todo lo que necesita hacer es obtener la documentación de los Estados Unidos para transferir su licencia.” Eso no es verdad. España no tiene un acuerdo recíproco con Estados Unidos. Le dije cortésmente que aunque así era como funcionaba con muchos otros países, no funcionó de esa manera con Estados Unidos. Aparentemente, su jefe no estuvo de acuerdo. Le conté el proceso para los estadounidenses en España y que mi marido había hecho hace más de 5 años exactamente lo que yo había hecho recientemente.

Él fue un poco insistente y le pregunté si las reglas habían cambiado (sabía que no). Mientras tanto, pude verlo imprimiendo y sellando mi carnet temporal y solté un suspiro de alivio, me explicó que aún debería obtener la documentación de los EEUU para mi historia de conducir en EEUU o mi seguro de automóvil sería exorbitante. Además, no es verdad. Hubo un poco más de discusión.

Mi suposición es que algún burócrata vio en mi expediente que yo tenía un carnet estadounidense. Ese burócrata no entendía los requisitos para que un estadounidense obtuviera un carnet de España y decidió suspender la emisión de mi carnet. Como diría San Geraldo, “Jeez Louise”! [una forma de decir Jesús Louisa sin decir Jesús].

Pero lo único que importa es que tengo carnet para conducir. Ahora veré si puedo obtener un carnet internacional con solo un carnet temporal en caso de que la necesite cuando esté en los Estados Unidos en agosto. Las fotos de hoy son de la aventura de viaje de ayer. La foto superior es una vista más larga del edificio del Departamento de Tráfico, lo que para mí hace que parezca menos un perro y más una prisión (aunque me pareció genial la comparación con un perro).

• Waiting for the train.
• Esperando por el tren.
• On my way.
• En camino.
• After coffee at El Duende, the Convention Center, just before I reached the fairgrounds.
• Después del café en El Duende, el Palácio de Congresos y Ferias de Málaga, justo antes de llegar al recinto ferial.
• Entering the expansive fairgrounds.
• Entrar en el extenso recinto ferial.
• Waiting my turn.
• Esperando mi turno.
• Victoria Kent Station. Heading home after lunch at El Duende.
• Estación Victoria Kent. Regreso a casa después del almuerzo en El Duende.
• The uncomfortably crowded train home. It emptied out at Torremolinos, about half-way home.
• El tren a casa incómodamente abarrotado. Se vació en Torremolinos, a mitad de camino de casa.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

29 thoughts on “How to get a license (or not) / Cómo obtener un carnet (o no)”

  1. Love the Michener comparison. I use that line all the time when reading wordy commentary. That man did love description–think he must have used every adjective in the OED. Nevertheless, delighted you have your license and not in the least surprised the bureaucracy doesn’t know its own rules. Sigh.

    Good to see the rest of the building…like a large air conditioning unit. Had a funny thought when looking at the tower of that building. I couldn’t help thinking that it was probably the office of the biatche who administered your first driving test. Could well imagine her looking down like a mad prison guard and deciding who she would zap next with her meanness. Junkyard dog, indeed. 🙂

    1. Mary:
      Your observations are exceptional. It DOES look like a giant air conditioning unit. The biatche isn’t important enough to have a sinister tower for overseeing everything but if she could that would definitely be it.

  2. Oh, brother. What a saga! It’s frustrating when you’re talking to the issuing agency and even THEY don’t know the rules. Bureaucracy! We need to get Dave a license, too — his Michigan license expired and getting one in the UK is apparently a nightmare. I’m not sure what we’ll do about that.

    Those fairgrounds look like a great place to take pictures. I love the lonely flamenco dancers on the doors below the metal roof beams.

    1. Steve:
      Appalling. he idea that they would withhold my license because I did MORE than they thought necessary! It was stressful enough getting my license here; I’ve never been comfortable driving in England and don’t know if I could handle that. You would have had a ball with your camera at the fairgrounds. I could have spent so much more time but I only shot what I passes as I walked (I have about another 100 photos).

  3. When dealing with government bureaucrats, the rules are, whatever they say they are. Enjoy the new found freedom.

    1. David:
      So ridiculous that they would withhold my license because someone decided I did too much (which of course I didn’t). I wonder what would have happened had I gone to them 10 years ago to try to trade in my California license.

    1. Debra:
      Tom can be hilarious (so can Linda for that matter). He rolls his eyes in the background of our FaceTime calls when she tells her Michener versions. She stops and says, ”I can see you.” And that means she has start the Michener version all over again.

    1. That was not anonymous. I was Frank trying to comment using my iPhone. But somehow it won’t let me connect!!!!!!!!

    2. Frank:
      I’m sure this guy was brought up in Italy! No, we’ve got our share. But Italy definitely takes the prize. I once had to buy stamps at the bank because the post office was all out!

  4. So glad that you persevered, Mitchell! It’s like the 12 trials of Hercules – each one harder than the previous.

    My US license (Texas) expired last year. My Belize license is good for 2 more years, but I can’t get an international license based on my Belize license. So it goes . . . .

    1. Wilma:
      How odd that you can’t get an international license with your Belize license. What a world. Then again, in Belize you only drive boats.

  5. You most certainly will need a DL when you come to the states. Remember back in the beginning of the great Spanish Adventure ….the difficulties of dealing with the various bureaucracies with less confident Spanish….

    1. Jssw:
      I DID think about that. I couldn’t possibly have managed this entire process years back. Phone calls. Text messages. Meetings. All in Spanish, with no hesitation except an occassional search in my head THAfor the right word. That alone is confidence building. (Of course, when he asked me where I was from, I thought it over carefully before saying MUY BIEN GRACIAS! (No I didn’t and you can punch me when you see me).

  6. I love the Michener version comment. How apropos! Licenses are filled with bureaucracy even when it is simple a normal situation. My son had a heck of a time getting a NY state driver’s license. His Virginia driver’s license had expired when he was overseas living in Korea, and it wasn’t just a simple renewal. I think he is still going through some hassles. I love the fact that you can just take a train to where you want to go. I wish it was like that here.

    1. mcpersonalspace54:
      The two DMVs we could use when we lived in Irvine, CA, could still be nightmares just a little over 10 years ago. But this experience for me took the cake. These processes shouldn’t be so painful in this day and age. I hope your son’s is soon worked out.

      We chose Fuengirola because it was the last city outside the capital that the train reached and there‘s no train out of Málaga in the other direction. The commuter train is a pleasure and it takes us directly to the airport, to the central station in the city where we can catch trains to other parts of the country, to downtown Málaga. It makes life so easy.

    1. Deedles:
      Sorry I went off the cliff a bit. I was incapable of making it any more concise.

      1. Oh sweetie, I was referring to the unusual brevity of my comment. Your post was fine.

      2. Deedles,
        I should have known it would be all about you! (Only kidding.) And now that I look at it again! It makes perfect sense.

  7. OMG! After all you had gone through and then you hear this?!
    As you said….you have your license and now it is all behind you.
    That train looked crowded alright…….I would have hesitated getting on. So used to NOT being around crowds now.
    I, too, love the flamenco dancers!

    1. Jim:
      Except they had it all wrong and, had I tried to do what they said, someone else would have said NO WAY. The train got even worse than it appeared in that shot. I found it very unpleasant.

  8. Curiously, France has reciprocal license agreements on a state-by-state basis. If a US state accepts a French license in trade, then France accepts that state’s license in trade, no tests. Unfortunately for me, California is not one of those states, so I had to do the tests. Which I did back in 2005.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      How surprising! I wonder how France works out which states to work with. SG had no hesitation getting his Spanish license although it was even more challenging for him (initially) because of his much more limited Spanish plus learning the ropes of manual or automatic (two different licenses and manual requires relearning how to drive). I admire his confidence and yours. It took me until about 4 years ago to build up the nerve. I am SO relieved.

I love your comments.