Friday, April 13, 2007

Riteve : Costa Rica Car Inspection

Costa Rica has a national system of annual car inspection called Riteve. Having a current Riteve sticker allows you to drive confidently and legally. It is a common experience which makes me feel like I really live here. Both of our 2 experiences at Riteve were weird and notable.

While many people think moving to Costa Rica is about living in a country with no army, ecotourism, seeing lava at Volcano Arenal, surfing at Malpais/Santa Teresa or doing the canopy tour at Monteverde ..... getting your car inspected is more indicative of day to day Costa Rica life.

The process starts out impressively smooth and logical as you make your Riteve appointment on the internet choosing place, date and time. We did our first inspection in Alajuela. They said our emissions didn't pass the test, but that was the least of our issues. By the time we had worked our way through the inspectors' paces, one of the technicians destroyed our brakes. We had to drive home using the handbrake to stop. Last week, we decided to go to the Puntarenas Riteve for our second inspection. This time an inspector destroyed a line that held the car's power steering fluids. We drove home with the steering wheel barely working. On a better note, a technician allowed us to re-do one of the tests 5 times until we finally passed.

In a different culture I might have complained or written a letter to right the wrong. That seemed like a waste of time here.

Many people pay someone to take their car for inspection. I'm beginning to see the wisdom of not going through this process.

Once again patience and a sense of humor are a virtue in navigating aspects of Tico life.

Cerveza, por favor...Gracias!!!