Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Years passing

The Mini was first registered nine years ago today. To celebrate part of the badge, that reads Mini, on the tailgate fell off. It just adds to the number of niggling faults on the car including a boot that doesn't open properly, broken down seats and split rubber weatherproofing. As well as a long list of little problems the car has had two major mechanical problems which have stopped it on the road. Replacing the double mass flywheel, one of the problems, cost close to 2,000€. 110,000 miles and the car feels very old. I would not recommend a BMW Mini to anyone.

So I'm well aware of the passing of the years with the car but I was really surprised to find that some of the classes on my driving licence were about to expire. When I passed my car driving test in the UK they threw in the right to drive small lorries and vans, up to 7,500 kg, as a bonus prize.  It isn't normal for car drivers in Spain to have rights to drive small lorries and it was that class, and the various combinations with trailers, that were about to reach their sell by date. This must mean that I've had my Spanish driving licence for five years. Surely not? I would have sworn that it couldn't be more than a couple of years but time, apparently, passes.

When I swapped my British licence for a Spanish one my right to drive a minibus disappeared. The car part of my licence is good for another five years but if I didn't renew it now then I would lose more classes. I haven't actually driven anything bigger than a Transit for over twenty years but who knows when the need may arise again?

The Spanish system includes a health and psychotechnical test. This can be done at any one of a number of approved centres all over the country and we now have a part time one in Pinoso. The psychotechnical test involves two exercises something a bit like that ping pong video game from the 1970s. In the first a dot moves along a track and then disappears into a "tunnel" and you have to anticipate when it will come out of the other side. The second involves trying to keep two white dots within a winding "road" - the road on the left moves differently to the road on the right. I suppose that the first is about anticipation and the second about co-ordination.

There is also supposed to be an eye test, a hearing test, a general check of your health, like blood pressure, and some questions about your general health, both mental and physical. I did one of these tests, voluntarily, years ago when I still had a British licence because I was unsure about the legality of driving without one. That time they did all those tests so this time I was all prepared with a plausible answer for the question about how much alcohol I drank in a week but they didn't ask. In fact, apart from being asked if I was healthy and if my vision and hearing were OK I only had to do the computer games.

In fact the most difficult part of the whole process was getting my address to fit onto the computer database. The person who did the test wasn't from Pinoso and she had the same problem as lots of people in that she couldn't understand why we didn't have a street or why we used a postcode that isn't actually our postcode. I also made a little joke about how my name had too many aiches for Spaniards to spell it correctly - she checked the name on my licence and changed the name on the computer screen!

The check took about fifteen minutes and cost 58€. The driving licence renewal fee was 23.50€. So the total was 81.50€. Not that cheap.

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