Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reality is stranger than fiction

I’m sure you have heard that sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. So, this post describes what I have been experiencing. Let me start with a rather long and tedious depiction about the dreaded RTV. Here in Costa Rica each vehicle must pass a rigorous technical revision each year called Riteve (RTV for short). For most people RTV is a dreaded experience where you cross your fingers your vehicle will pass. Sometimes even new cars do not make it. The revision is equivalent to the emissions testing in North America, but tests everything else: windshield wipers, horn, windows, seat belts, shock absorbers, lights, tread on tires, etc. You name it. When the vehicle achieves the stamp of opproval,you receive an official sticker that tells transit police that your car is okay.

Anyway, UNKNOWN to me, the transit laws not only got tighter this year, but all traffic fine violations shot through the roof -- completely off the charts! Quite abruptly, from one day to the other, the fine for not meeting the RTV revision deadline, also rocketed from 25.00 to 365.00. That’s only half the bad news. The worst part is that you can be fined umpteen times depending how many times you happen to get caught by the police (once, twice, three times or more). Imagine? So, people here (me included) began to panic and everyone ran to their nearby mechanic so that the garages were swamped with cars. To make matters even worse, people flooded to RTV with so many appointments that the internal system collapsed from all the demands. It’s as if someone cried, “fire” during a theatre production. Folks were busting down the doors.

What did this mean for me? On a more personal level I felt like a fugitive day by day -- as if I had a leak in my energy system. While Ileana was getting her Suzuki repaired on the one hand, I had to leave my Mitsubishi at the local mechanic so he could work on it while I was at work, but only Mondays since there was this sudden rise of clients. In the meantime (for what seemed like TWO ETERNAL WEEKS) it felt like the government had imposed a martial law and I had to scurry back and forth from work to the apartment each day, restricting myself to driving ONLY when necessary. I could have easily taken a bus to work, but the trick was transporting Nati to her school and back. There were no alternatives to contemplate. It also meant that on weekends the car had to stay in the garage, which meant no church or social life. Talk about feeling isolated!

The good news is that today my car PASSED the revision, so I feel a heavenly sensation of relief – kinda like a prisoner freed from his sentence and guess what? The first place I drove to was to central park… to rollerblade my heart out. It was a great feeling to finally drive through the city without dread and fear.

-- Troubled Reflector

No comments: