Saturday, January 14

Speed The Light!

viernes, diciembre 02, 2005 (This post is from December)

We have our STL vehicle now. It is a 5-speed diesel graphite blue 4-door Volkswagen Bora (think "official looking" Jetta). And it was last year's floor model, so we got it for an Excellent price. We'll be able to return about $8,000 back to STL. This car likes me. It is my new friend. But we had many problems getting it. I will try to make the description of the process we encountered very brief, but it lasted about 2 months:

People in Spain want to make money. Sometimes because of various laws, you cannot see a process through to the end like in the States. It is a problem of "navigation" until you find the hole in the fence to crawl through to the next yard of difficulties. We bought the car in one evening. This was easy, because I wanted an excellent, enduring, STL vehicle for the field to perhaps share with other missionaries.

Volkswagen had a STL vehicle that they wanted to sell to me. We signed the papers for it and my name "Darwin K. Godwin" was on the paperwork. Putting my name on the paperwork was a new process for missionaries here, because most STL cars are titled in the name of a previous missionary to avoid legal troubles for newcomers, but that meant that "Joe" missionary was accumulating speeding tickets on his co-worker for Christ's insurance. Bad. So my name was on this STL vehicle to avoid this problem.

We should not have been able to buy the car. This came as a "surprise" to me and to Volkswagen. But they had the money and I had the STL Bora. Did I mention that Springfield transferred an extra few thousand bucks directly into the VW bank in Madrid? The dealership thought we were trying to launder money or they at least respected our attempt at fraud. After trying to get the correct paperwork, the VW bank transferred the difference back to GCCU in Springfield, which bounced it back because they did not know what it was. So the VW Bank here got nervous and cut me a check for the difference, which is taking an interesting route back to Springfield. I do not want STL money hangin over me!!!! Yikes - anyone know a good millstone tailor?

The next day we discovered that I could not get it insured. Because it was in my name, and I did not have a Spanish Driver's License. So, I had to park it deep in a dark garage like it was stolen and it never existed. We had the matriculation (car-tags) on it in my name from Madrid, and to have it changed over to another missionary's name would have been another $1,000 and more legal scrutiny. Best to park it deep in the Batcave and set about getting a Spanish Driver's License.

If you are Moroccan or from the EU or from a South or Central American country (did you know that Mexico is a North American country! I did not...) you can trade you license in for a Spanish license in one day. Or if you do not have one but are from these countries, you can buy one for as much money as you have on you. But, Canadians and us "EstadosUnidenses" but pay the $1,500 for driving school and the exam, which takes about 4 months and involves a possible 40,000 questions. The purpose of the test is to generate money for the government. So it is very common to fail the first three times because of the tangled nature of the questions.

Did I mention that in order for an us to start the process of getting the license we have to have a residency card? We have been trying to get that for about 2 years now. Lots of paperwork in the U.S., and week after next we go to Madrid to get finger-printed as a final step. So, the possibilities of driving the STL car seemed to be pushed back even further. BUT.....
My good friend of my good friend Albert has a "clause" in his insurance contract which allows him to sell me excellent insurance that is fully legal and even covers fire damage by upset young Muslim immigrants. So, this answer to prayer allows me to drive the STL vehicle with folders full of papers with my name on it in the glovebox. So, at random stops I am safe... for three months, until I start the process of getting the license, and then I have a few more months grace period.

The best description I have heard of Spain is that it is run according to the moods of the people behind that certain window in that certain office in that certain department at that certain time of day. If you ask the wrong question you will get the wrong answer and earn yourself more official paperwork. If you ask the "right" question with a smile, you might get some helpful advice, depending on the mood of the room. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would say that the laws are designed to keep people in a "catch-22" so you can be picked up for anything at anytime and deported. But We have overcome this phase and continue to be one step ahead in the game - with the help of God. (There's a fine theological argument involving the law etc...!) Some days I feel comforted that I can drive the car out of the country at the drop of a hat for just a full tank of diesel - should the need arise.

But for now, I have that ominous EU symbol stamped all over my name and attached to a STL vehicle that the youth of Kansas purchased to combat the dark side.