How things work (officially) in Uruguay

confiscated motorbikes, Atlántida, Uruguay
Confiscated motorbikes behind the Intendencia.
Judging by the tree growing, they’ve been there a while.

How things work (officially) in Uruguay is seldom the same as how they work in reality.

When I realized, in 2012, that I’d forgotten to renew my driver’s license (doing the homologación from a foreign license is easy, but they only gave me two years), I researched and discovered that 1) if you miss renewal by under two weeks, no problem, 2) between two weeks and two years, you have to take the written and driving test, and 3) after two years you have to take driving school.

In my case, the two weeks had passed, and the two years would come next October, but my foreign license—from Mexico—expires two days from now.

Today was my appointment. I was a little nervous about taking a test in Spanish, though I had studied the Manual de Aspirantes and found nothing daunting. I figured the driving part was no problem. I’ve gone 40 years without an accident (other than bozos running into me).

The whole process took over and hour and a half: present required paperwork. Wait. Name called. Take paperwork to cashier, pay $1,000 (USD 45). Get in line. Give receipt. Wait. Name called. Photo taken. Wait. Name called. Sign here; here’s your license.

But officially ….

4 Replies to “How things work (officially) in Uruguay”

  1. How about giving a confiscated motor bike to a randomly chosen individual waiting to register/renew on one randomly chosen day each month. Is that too many randoms? How else will they move those bikes? Or is it an arproject?t

  2. I find your observations quite acute.

    The stasis of the fixed objects—the inevitably decaying mechanical vehicles—creates the vibrant contrast of the tree growing amongst them. Notice how, despite the variety of colors in the mechanical artifacts, none contains green, thus imparting a subtle message of meaning and growth amidst apparent randomness.

    An installation of this magnitude (that's a lot of mechanical junk) appears all the more impressive for its underplayed location, obvious but probably ignored by preoccupied driver's license applicants, a sort of ironic pearls-before-swine statement.

    Your random gifting idea would transform this installation into a marvelous interactive piece,with further narrative involvement when the new “owners” have to pay the fines attached to the vehicle. A new reality show?

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