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Carole and Don from Atenas bought a cheap car that needed a paint job. Instead of painting it the same color, which was identical to the gardener’s car, they changed it to red. They had no idea what an adventure it would be getting the legal transfer in order until it was too late. Click here to read what happened before.
Papers clutched in hand, Don and I drove into the Riteve Inspection Station in Alajuela. We were quite pleased with ourselves for finding it, determining where the entrance was, and finding the start point. After all, we were for a change-of-color verification. Our RTV sticker was good until April and it was only September. The attorney had clearly marked the places to fill out and sign upon an official statement “Yes, the car is red.” The lady sitting at the window took the packet of paperwork; I stood there smiling pleasantly prepared to point to the now-red car. We had purposely parked within her viewing range so she wouldn’t have to leave her station.
“Do you have an appointment, Señora?”
“Uh, no. We only need somebody to check the box that says the car is not green anymore; it’s red.”
“You need an appointment. Here is the number to call.”
“Oh, but, we are here now. Can’t somebody just look at the car to verify the color?”
“No señora. You need an appointment. Next!”
I stepped aside, pulled out the cell phone, and called the number. I got a recording telling me to make an appointment online. We didn’t have our internet set up yet, so we went to an internet café, ordered coffee that we didn’t want, and I went to the Riteve. It was easy to make the appointment which I did for the following day at 9:00 a.m.
Refreshed after a good night’s sleep, we headed off to Riteve, planning to go into town for a nice breakfast afterward since this should only take a few minutes. The line went quickly and the same lady was at the window. We had, once again, parked where she could see the car without leaving her place. She took the papers, shuffled through the stack, and I pointed to the box to be checked saying the car is now red. She smiled and pointed to the line waiting for inspection.
“No, we don’t need the full inspection. We just need the color verified.”
She nodded: “Yes, I understand. Go to that line. Next!”
Baffled, we shuffled over to the line. We were standing there waiting for somebody to tell us what to do. The people in front of us were standing outside their car, as were the people behind us. Finally, one of the officials told us to go get the car and get in line. “But …” my voice trailed off as Don retrieved the keys from his pocket and walked off.
I kept thinking somebody was going to come over, ask for the papers and check the box. There were three separate lines feeding into the massive inspection station, so the long line moved along; not quickly, but it moved. Forget breakfast.
We waited and watched as each car went through a tunnel that looked like a drive-through carwash. They had people and machines to test seat belts, horn, windshield washers, speedometer, gas cap, brake lights, turn signals, headlights – both low and high beams, tires, check for windshield chips, make sure doors are in working order, front and rear bumpers firmly attached, license plate light, muffler, and emission controls, and license plate number visible. That’s all.
Can somebody just check the box? The car is RED.
Rather than argue, we went through each checkpoint. We got to the third station and the inspector said something about two thousand. My Spanish is pretty good, but sometimes I understand the words but not the concept. I was scrambling in my wallet trying to get two thousand Colones out as fast as I could. He laughed when I shoved the two red ones out the window. He pointed to a free-standing meter. “Oh! Two thousand RPMs! Don, step on the gas. Rev up the engine.”
They shook us up like a milkshake at the next station, with a flash-light guy in a hole under the car. They shook the car so violently waiting for what? Parts to fly off? I guess we passed ‘cause we got through all the stations and were told to park, go to the kiosk and get a sticker.
Our name was called, we rushed up to the window, and the sticker had the same date in April as our present sticker. I asked: Is this good for a year?”
“No. You are due back in April, but now we can check the box. Your car is red!”
Carole Connolly-Shaw is an expat who moved to Atenas from Santa Cruz, California. She was a fervent blogger when she lived in Atenas. Then Carole became famous after publishing “Flying High with Carole Jean“. We invited Carole to write a couple of blogs for us and she happily accepted. Thanks, Carole!
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