Renewing the Drivers Licenses

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December seems to be a busy month, with a lot of things coming due for renewal, maintenance, or some sort of attention. One thing we needed was our drivers licenses. I’ve seen more and more technology being used to get things done, and now it is possible to do the drivers license renewals on line.

First, they sent both of us email reminders with the link to the website where we could do the renewal. Then, the next step was to go to the doctor. We are both over 70 now which means our licenses are only good for two years, not four, and you have to present a certification from a doctor that says you are in good physical and mental health. We went to Dr Euripedes Espino G, who had done this for us before. He took our ID’s, made the necessary document, and for $60 we were both good to go. He’s at Chiriqui Hospital and doesn’t speak English, but he’s a good doctor and a very kind man. (something about a previous experience with him –

So, now, onward to tackle the website. There were a lot of instructions and explanations to read, so I was thankful for Google translate to ease some of the strain on my brain. You need to put in all your personal info, name, ID, location, phone number, etc.etc. I also needed to upload a picture of the document from the doctor, our licenses, residency cards and cedulas (IDs). It took me a couple starts to get them in the right order so they would land in the right places on the website. I’ll do my best here to remember the various steps and order, but it’s been a little while ago now so I could be off.

Then, you need your picture taken. You face the screen and try to get your face properly positioned in the oval outline until it turns green. For the first one I was instructed to smile, and when the system was happy the whole screen turned green for a moment. Then I was instructed to open my mouth, which took me a while to figure out. I finally got frustrated and just faced the screen and opened my mouth very wide, and on the way to wide the thing got happy and turned green. That was a weird one. Then, the last picture, look serious, that was easier.

Next, the vision test. They had a square on the screen with arrows top, bottom, sides, and corners. In the center was a very small red C. Your job was to figure out where the opening of the C was facing, and click on the corresponding arrow. I don’t know how many you were allowed to get wrong, but it kept going until I got eight right.

Then, it was back to the pictures, the same drill as before.

Next was the hearing test. I put in my earbuds and listened for various tones. My job was to click on right or left, depending on which ear heard the tone. I know I missed one when I heard nothing and just guessed, but again, once I reached eight correct answers, I was done.

I think that was all! At least the website didn’t ask for anything else and said I was at the end. It felt a bit uncomfortable that they didn’t email anything, no confirmation or any reassurance that you completed the process. But, a couple days later we got emails with instructions on how to pay for our licenses ($16/each). The instructions said it could be done at any ATM. I think you need a Panamanian CLAVE card though. We got nowhere with our USA credit card so we went to the office a couple days later (If you are retired, you can just walk in without an appointment!)

The office was very quiet, with only a few people getting things done. They found our info, asked for our ID’s and doctor documents, took our old licenses, and sent us to the cashier to pay. We waited a short while for our new licenses to be made, and the really nice, English speaking gal at the back had us check that our info was all correct, gave us something to sign, as we were done! 

We’ve gone through this process at the office before and it was fine. But I liked doing it on line better, especially the vision and hearing tests. We could take our time, and didn’t have the distractions that come with doing things in an office.

So, we are legal to drive for another two years. And I made it through the whole list of other chores! We just have a couple more appointments this week to get it all wrapped up. And, we’re on a staycation at home. Our band gig was cancelled on Sunday because Boquete was essentially shut down for a Christmas parade. The venue owner didn’t think we could even get to the place, let alone have an audience to play for. So, now we’re doing our own thing until our next gig on January 28th.

Meanwhile, summer has returned and we’re having some fabulous weather, sunny, beautiful puffy clouds, light breeze, not too hot, and it’s a pleasure to be out. I’m trying to recover my biking muscles after being away for a while, and it’s getting a bit better every day. And, the dog is very excited that she gets to go walking with us every afternoon. Life is good, and especially at my age, I appreciate it every single day.

I hope you all have a good holiday time. It’s a hard time for some though, and I loved this video. This guy invited 50 strangers who were spending the holiday alone, and arranged a Christmas dinner and party for them. They had a total blast!

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