6 attempts to get Driver License in Peru

Only tiny cars fit on the course. Waiting cars

Getting my Peruvian Drivers License has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. Every time I have attempted the test I did ‘new things wrong’, some of which had me thrown out of the test area immediately. You are probably imagining car crashes, terrible parallel parks or hitting cones (common error). People wonder if Parkinson’s affects my driving – it doesn’t. 

Nope, my faults were: touching the white line at a zebra crossing, having my bumper a millimeter over a line, stopping in a curve which wasn’t a curve, forgetting to indicate, stalling when the evaluator criticised me mid turn and others that are harder to explain.

The test course

I started to get flustered easily and do more things ‘wrong’, never completing the test. My parkinson’s tremble got worse when I usually control it well. The perfectionism required was unfathomable considering how many people actually drive here.

As a Christian my faith affects my life and though not everyone agrees we can respect each others experience. I was angry and distressed but God brought me this beautiful Psalm to give me perspective.

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.  Psalms 37: 6-9

Despite everyone’s prayers I wasn’t getting my license. I started to think of my Peruvian friends and how they encouraged me to bribe. One friend had written to me earlier saying to bribe was the only way but when she read these verses and saw my resolve, she wrote “I admire your courage and braveness to not succumb to corruption. Hopefully what you are doing helps the system change”.

Sadly I don’t think that happened but God did want to go through this and have empathy? If I didn’t struggle and fail I’d not be so determined to see change for my Peruvian friends. Plus the truth is that I could get my Australian license validated in Peru if I got desperate. It’s expensive and it involves complicated paperwork but it is possible. Peruvian don’t have any options so by completing the process to I was ‘ walking a mile in their shoes’ and I feel their pain they face. I cried tears of anguish for me but really deeper down for those who struggle to pass the test, for those who want to do the right thing.

That led me to a similar biblical phrase…though different; “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles”.

Yes, that is me I thought. Very different to choosing to walk a mile in someone’s shoes. Forced to do it. (although I was choosing to get my licence).  The passage continues;  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”. Matthew 5:41, 43-45, 48.

No small order indeed. I asked God for lots of help on this one. I made friends with the guards and tried to be nice to everyone. Still no success.

A new friend in the test kindly said that these evaluators would help me through the test if I just paid for ‘help’. They had coached her to pass.

Finally, David said yesterday “Don’t go anymore”. He could see how stressed I was under the pressure of evaluators who were waiting for me to finally pay the bribe. I had one last test booked so I went to the licence boss, who I had already met several times as I queried the process. I presented her a letter of complaint, which I read aloud through tears, plus the conditions on which I would do the test. She listened to my requirements:  That noone yell at me or accused me mid test and I asked her came to supervise.

Well, I think it was me crying publicly that finally got to her and a desire to get rid of me because I passed. Praise God. Another test participant noted “they are not yelling today” when we’d completed it.

Pray for safe travel on the roads and wisdom for Peruvians dealing with corruption daily. Sadly I am told this normal across the the bureaucracy ;-(

Written February 2018

To read the update go to Radio Robbery -Driving-in-Peru-update in June 2020: