Dad, now 93, has been living next door to me in Todos Santos, Baja Sur, for over three years now. Bringing his lovely new Prius down from LA was not an option, since 1) it was unrealistic to maintain a California registered vehicle in Mexico. 2) you can’t import an American car less than 10 years old. 3) It would not have been an appropriate auto on the dirt roads we have here.
So it was going to be necessary to buy him an appropriate Mexican plated car. And since you must have a Mexican drivers license to drive a Mexican plated car, that was going to be our next excursion.
We relied on a dear Mexican friend to find Dad a great deal on a car – but it was located up at the border town of Mexicali, 1000 miles away, where apparently all the best deals can be had. We sent him up there to drive the best bargain and car back down here for us. Dad was thrilled with his Mazda, and as required, we registered it with the local police.
Now we needed to get him his Mexican license. I told him not to worry since he had a valid California license, and would not be subjected to having to take a written test (I had an expired California license when I applied for my first Mexican drivers license and was still not required to take a test). I also told him there wasn’t going to be a driving test either!
In fact, when young Mexicans go for their first drivers license (also not required of us with prior licenses), all they have to do is walk along a meandering Disneyland-style paved pathway and show the official person escorting you that you know what all the street signs mean. That’s it! This completely explains why Mexicans are terrible drivers. They might know what STOP means, but they don’t bother, and basically ignore all the rules we were taught to follow. It’s every man for himself down here.
What IS required, though, before applying in person, is to get a blood test.
Everybody’s license must have their blood type on it in case of an accident, which for obvious reasons, happens quite often. So after a trip to the local lab for his official blood test, we were off to the Mexican version of the DMV in La Paz, the capital of our state, 50 miles away.
Dad was given a form to fill out, which of course was all in Spanish so he needed help. When he was called up to the window, he was told he’d first have to be examined by a medical doctor because he was over 90 (I was surprised they would even consider giving a license to someone that age in the first place).
My secret biggest concern was that he might not be allowed to drive here. But that was not the case. They even provided us with a lovely man to take us in his own car to a local doctor for the exam. What service! Unheard of in the U.S.
The doctor was so impressed with Dad’s strong heart and overall shape, that all he did was take his blood pressure and sign off on him. After paying next to nothing (180 pesos, equivalent of $15), we were driven back to the “DMV.”
After a short wait, he was directed to another office for photos and processing. Within minutes, Dad had a colorful Mexican drivers license in his hands, which was good for three years.
Well, the three years are up this September, so it’s time for him to renew. Not sure I should worry about that or not. Will keep you posted!
Wendy Rains enjoys multiple careers as an International Architectural Designer, Fashion Designer, Artist, Author, Poet, Columnist, Travel Journalist, Ghost Writer, Magazine Publisher, Editor, and Radio Show Host. For the past 12 years Wendy has been living in Todos Santos, Mexico, where she shares 2 ½ acres at the beach with her 94-year young dad. She currently hosts one of only two English radio programs in Southern Baja on Cabo San Lucas’s only radio station.