Here is a walkthrough of the process for getting my Sandbox driver’s license. I have now lost track of which signature implies what, but let me present it as best I remember. Each step in the process represents a long line and lots of prayer!
Day 1: Translation of US license needed. I had to submit a photocopy of my US license to the “official translation station”. A translation of it by one of my Sandbox colleagues would not be accepted.
Day 2: Application for license began.
A. This signature certifies that the official translation of the US license was approved. Now I could begin the process.
B. This stamp approves my eye test.
C. This stamp approves my “psychological test”, which ended up consisting of stating my name.
D. This signature is to indicate I have paid the application fee and am ready to proceed.
E. This signature indicates I am ready to submit the application, pending the driving test (which was a surprise to us. We were told before that the reason we were supplying the copy of the US license was to avoid the need to take the driving test).
Day 3: Written driving test. The test could not take place on a Wednesday so we would have to come back on Sunday, as my colleague had work to attend to on Thursday (Friday and Saturday are the “weekend” in the Sandbox).
F. This stamp and signature indicate that I had difficulty with the written part of the driving test. (My colleague translated, but even with a “team effort” we missed 2 out of 10). I would need to come back the next week to re-take it. We then tried to get in contact with a traffic police officer who was a friend of my colleague to question whether or not this test needed to be taken because we had the US license. He was not available so we would meet with him another day.
Day 4: Continuing with driving tests.
G. After discussions with the friend of my colleague, they were very generous and waived the need to re-take the written test due to the explanation given that the problems were with the translation into English, not in my knowledge of driving safety. This was a HUGE answer to prayer! We would have to take the street driving test, however.
H. I had not driven since Kenya (left side of the road not right!) so I was a bit nervous. The test car was in very bad shape and the seatbelt did not work. When I tried to put it into first gear, it seemed to feel like the shifter would not engage the gear. I put the clutch in and out to try to re-align the gears. I tried again, really ramming on the shifter, but still it didn’t feel engaged in gear. I let out on the clutch again, this time totally letting go of the clutch pedal…. and the car lurched and died! This told me two things: 1-I had been in gear the whole time!!! 2-The clutch really needed adjusting and when I thought I was letting off it before I probably wasn’t. The transmission wasn’t engaging until I had almost entirely let off the pedal!! With this knowledge, I said a “Malesh! Malesh! (Sorry! Sorry!)” and restarted the car. The driving instructor was getting a bit frustrated that I couldn’t even get the car to move! I then started to drive, properly trying to signal that I was entering traffic. However! Since I was so flustered and accustomed to driving on the left side of the road (from Kenya), instead of turning on the blinker I turned on the window wipers instead!! The driving instructor let out a frustrated tone and I followed with a “Malesh! Malesh!” again, turning off the wipers and turning on the blinker. I was now in traffic. After getting up to 4th gear, he indicated I should pull over. Uh oh I thought! When we had stopped he took my now VERY valuable application paper below and quickly scribbled the contents of the “H” circle on it and then put on his stamp. I felt like this was probably going to be the end of my application and that I would never be allowed to drive in the Sandbox. However, after I left the car and brought the paper back to my colleague, he read it and told me “Praise the Lord! You passed!!!”
I. I rushed back to the application office and stood in a very very long line to get the last signature and stamp that indicate I have now passed all required pieces and am ready to submit the application. Praise the Lord!
Day 5: Paying the license fee and submitting the application.
The payment was made (another long line), the application was submitted to the keyboarding desk for them to type in the information, my photo was taken, and then I waited for approximately 3 hours while they printed up the license. While we waited another man next to me bought me some tea (hospitality in the Sandbox knows no bounds!). The license came and I headed home on the bus. It is now legal for me to drive in the Sandbox!
– Mr. Rikshaw