Usually when Tom and I are stymied by the way something is done here, we remind ourselves that we’re no longer living in the US, and that just because Belize doesn’t do it the same way as we’re used to, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. However, we just went through a situation where we think somebody needs to look at how things are being done and see if they could make it operate just a little more efficiently.
Tom picked up our little blue truck on December 24 of last year. As of last week, we still didn’t have license plates on the truck. We’d stop in the Ministry of Works Department of Transportation every few weeks to see if the license plates were in, and were always told no, just check back in a few weeks. It wasn’t a big deal; nobody cares if a vehicle doesn’t have plates, and the Dept. of Transportation gave us a little handwritten note attached to our registration that asked anybody who stopped us to please be courteous and understand that it wasn’t our fault the vehicle didn’t have plates (seriously!). However, the little handwritten note was only good for Belize, and we couldn’t take the truck out of the country without plates. We have a few things coming up where we may want to take the truck into Guatemala or Mexico, so we decided that we should start pushing to get the plates.
So, when Tom went in to check on plates last week, instead of smiling, saying thanks, and leaving when the woman told him they didn’t have any, he asked who he should talk to since we were about to need the plates, and we’d already waited almost six months. The woman had him talk to one of the officials, who told him that he could get the plates in Belmopan.
We tooted off to Belmopan, just to get the plates. We found the Ministry of Works there, Tom went in to get the plates, an official came out to make sure our registration matched the VIN on the truck, and Tom went in to fill out the paperwork. And, he had to pay an extra $15 because even though we’d already paid for the plates we never got in Santa Elena, issuing the plates from Belmopan required the creation of a new title, and that cost $15. Tom also found out that we never would have received plates from Santa Elena, because only one box of plates was issued this year for general Cayo registrations, and that box of plates went to Belmopan and couldn’t be split, so Santa Elena isn’t going to get any plates to issue for quite a while. All it meant to us was an extra trip to Belmopan and $15 ($7.50US), which obviously isn’t the end of the world – but it just seems silly, and is a situation which could be easily fixed. However, we now have our plates and can take off to Mexico or Guatemala whenever we want!