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Licensed to Apprehend
This is a story about conquering. This is a true tale about overcoming against all odds. No matter what society may throw against you, you will achieve. As I am writing this now I have not yet captured the trophy I speak of but... I feel it necessary to dispense this account of my endeavors, my adventure in acquiring a Haitian license.
It all started when my three months were up. "Legally" an American license is good for 90 days after entering the country, but then, who knows when you came in? And most of the time an American license will pass inspection, but what if the policeman needs money for the weekend or has had a very bad day? One can only hope, but a Haitian license gives more leverage to a sticky legal situation. So I decided, against all odds, to try and get my Haitian driver license. Again, one needs to be 18 to get one, but I figured that maybe an American license could pass.
So we started asking around. I couldn't get one like my parents, using a mission employee to work me through the system, because I was not a paid missionary. We found a nice lady who had a friend in the DGI who could supposedly get me my license in one day. Sounded like an idea, so during Christmas vacation my mother and I decided to get me a license.
We set it up real fast, a hurried phone call to Jill (the friend with a friend who could help me) to meet us on the road. We picked her up and took her to the post office first. Then after a bit of sitting we headed downtown. On the way we discovered some interesting tidbits we were not informed of before. We found out this was not just a friend friend. It was a lover friend. But there were complications, like that he was married and had kids. When this came out my mom glanced in the mirror at me. I knew what she was saying: I believe we just got very involved. Great.
We went to the DGI and mom let us off. Fortunately it was open. Jill took me through a couple checks and up some stairs. The place was full of very, very busy people. They all had important places to go and important things to do. There is no way I could maneuver my way through this anthill without someone who knew what they were doing. Jill took me to Jack's office, but found he was not there. No problem, she told us, he lives close by, and he can get you a license in a snap. So we headed toward his house. But, she told us on the way, you have to take me to his friend's house. Because if Jack's wife sees Jill she'll be suspicious, so we'll get the friend to go get Jack.
So we pulled up at our friend's friend's house, so Jill could go to her friend's house, all to get me a license :-). Mom and I sat in the car for about an hour, waiting for Jill to find her friend. Well, you cannot just "sit" in a car in Haiti. We rolled the windows down to let out some heat. Some nice little kids talked to us for the full hour. We chatted about lots of things and Mom took some pictures. I showed a little boy my passport. He explained in detail how someone could easily take off the picture and replace it, and use the fake passport. This was why, he reminded me, I should never carry it around.
Finally Jill came around the corner. Her friend was not there. Well, that ended the trip right there. We headed on home, a morning wasted. We bought her lunch in thanks, then dropped her off at home. And so ended Trip #1: OUTCOME: Mission Failed.
Well, with one failure under our belt, we decided to try to get a license with Steven. He had a friend who was a policeman, and we planned to try on Monday. So Monday morning we headed down an hour and ten minutes early, planning on a one hour trip. But roads were completely clear, yielding a half an hour drive. So we had forty minutes until Steven was supposed to be there. Mom suggested I get in line. As soon as I stepped out of the car a friendly guy who spoke perfect English greeted me. I was friendly to him, but quickly headed on to the line. I was immediately swarmed by about 10 con men eager to help. I'm sure maybe half of them could have gotten me something, after $300, and I was very glad to be waiting for someone who knew what was up. The people kept harassing me, until Mom came over and told them to knock it off. They didn't bother me after that. After a while I left the line, it was pointless. Just went to the shade to wait. Waited for a LONG time, like an hour. Steven came twenty minutes late, which totaled for about one hour of waiting.
Well, Steven's friend went in and contacted his friend. We discovered that they were friends together in school- this is good. But the director had to leave then, he said to come back at one. So we left and agreed to meet again at 1. And so ended Trip #2: OUTCOME: Mission Failed.
Went home for about two hours, then headed back out. Mom had to miss a funeral against popular demand to sacrifice another attempt to achieve. We went down and waited only a few minutes this time for Steven. His policemen friend, Ernst, arrived with a girl friend after a while. All four of us went in. Steven, Fara, and I sat and waited for the policeman to talk around. We chatted for about an hour, and eventually the lulls got longer. I felt desperately sorry for Mom, sitting in a hot car, while we were in an air-conditioned room sitting comfortably. I was about to go get her but afraid I couldn't get back in. Finally the guy came and said we probably would not get a license today. The director was in a meeting, and would be there past four, when the bureau closed. So, once again, we walked out empty-handed. We planned another attempt the next week during school. We would go get the director and take him, so we would have him right there with us. And that is where we are right now. We shall see...
And so ended Trip #3: OUTCOME: Mission Failed. Further missions pending...
Steven and I were planning to go down Friday before school, but that didn't work out. We decided on one, right during lunch. That was fine because I can miss most of my afternoon classes. Shnoozed through the day, anticipating lunch and hoping I would return with a kat d'idenite in my wallet. Finally it came and we headed off on Steven's motorcycle. His sister had forgotten an extra helmet for me, so we took a short ride to someone's house to get one. Then we biked to downtown. The roads were pretty clear so we made good time. We pulled up to DGI, a building I am getting very familiar with by now. Ernst was right there waiting for us.
This time we went right in. We passed the waiting room and ascended some stairs. Ernst talked to some lady, who said something about "frez". I didn't recognize the word. We came to the office Jill had taken me to two weeks ago. Then… we sat. Once again we found ourselves exercising our patience skills. We sat next to an obnoxious gaudy Christmas tree that kept chiming out carols. People came and left, and we sat there… waiting for news. The director was here, but we were waiting to see if the computers worked. We sat for about half an hour (a wee interval, considering our previous endeavors). Finally we found out the problem. The computers had "frez". They were down, so no one could get cards today. Of course, since this was Friday, the weekend was beckoning. And since no computers worked, everyone might as well go home, right? All the secretaries and advisors packed their bags and headed out. We took this as our cue and left also.
It wasn't a total loss though. Steven and I stopped at a Jerry's Subs and had a delicious lunch, incomparable to the Snack Shop's meager meals. The whole trip was worth that J . There was a traffic jam heading up, but fortunately the motorcycle was small enough to maneuver through the gridlocked cars, if you kept your knees in far enough J . We got back with half an hour of school left. We headed to class and resolved to attempt yet another skirmish against the license bureau of Haiti sometime.
And so ended Trip #4: OUTCOME: Mission Mostly Failed. Fulfilling lunch consumed, and hey, it was more fun than school! Who knows how many more missions to go?
Well, now I'm driving anyways with an American license, hoping I can get by on that. Steven is graduating and going to the States soon, so he won't need a license. Will I ever conquer the Haitian court system and acquire my ID card or license? Who knows, but it's taking too long anyways and I can't keep this story cooped up forever. So this is where it ends, as a failure. Unless, by God's grace, I get another opportunity and get my Haitian license. Otherwise I'll be like everyone else and make due with my American one.