Riding Dirty

It’s been a year since I had my FJ shipped to Costa Rica. The initial inspection was done by the export shipping company I used, ShiptoCostaRica. The folks there took care of everything. All I had to do was pick it up.

Now the time had come for me to do this myself. I must admit I was terrified between not knowing the language and hearing horror stories of how people fail the inspection.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t do like I used to do in the States, ride dirty. I would go for years on an expired inspection sticker. In fact, the longest I went was 3 1/2 years. The only reason I got it inspected then was the laws were changed in Texas where you couldn’t get it registered until after passing your inspection.

I decided to find a mechanic to give my FJ a thorough inspection before I took it in. OMG! This inspection took 4 hours! Not only did he check the brakes, suspension, alignment, and emissions, but get this, he even checked the windows and doors. He wiped cleaner on the window seals to ensure the windows slid open and closed smoothly. He said this is something they can fail you on. Who knew?

It was time for me to take it to the RTV. (Aside, in Costa Rica I’ve noticed they don’t say abbreviations, instead they make a word out of it). RTV, which stands for Revision Technica Vehicle, is pronounced  Riteve. I went online, created my profile, and setup the appointment, all in Spanish. I only got tripped up when the system kept returning the result of Amarillo when I put my plate number in. What is going on? I don’t live in Amarillo. Plus, my FJ came from Austin. DUH!!! Amarillo is the color yellow in Spanish.

Now the moment of truth. I show up bright and early to my 6:30am appointment. I get to the window to check in and say my salutations in Spanish. The lady checks my paperwork then collects my money. I’m thinking “Cool, I got this”… I get back into the FJ and drive around the building to the inspection lanes. Mind you, the night before I created a cheat sheet of phrases in Spanish I thought I may hear during the inspection like turn on signals, blow your horn, etc.

I pull into the lane. OMG! This lady starts barking commands at me in Spanish real fast… I’m looking on my cards to see if anything matches the words she is saying. She is getting impatient and I’m starting to freak out. Now it sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher speaking, but in Spanish – aye, aye, aye…

I went through 4 inspection checkpoints with different people telling me things to do. They would tell me to turn my signals on and I would blow the horn. Or they would tell me to race the engine and I would apply the brakes. By the final checkpoint I was literally in tears. I knew I had failed the inspection, not because my FJ wasn’t in top condition, but because I couldn’t follow what they were saying.

As tears are rolling down my cheeks I am telling the guy that I failed because my Spanish is so bad. “Mi auto fallo.. hablo Espanol muy mal… lo siento. “ This guy turns around, looks at me and in perfect English says, “don’t worry about it, you passed”. Then hands me my sticker.

Pura Vida!


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