There was much to fear this week,
not the least of which included the pointy fangs of vampires and the shrill cackles of witches,
not to mention the evil, satisfied smile of another witch as she looked on with glee
at some very strange goings on.
There were plenty of suspicious people lurking about,
some sporting both semi-automatic weapons
and flip flops.
We did our best to keep smiling,
after all there were flowers still blooming at October’s end; it was warm and balmy along the trick-or-treat route,
and there was no shortage of candy,
but there was a chill in the tropical air,
spooky enough to give even the prettiest of vampire-ballerinas a reason to feel wary.
the terror of getting a driving license here in Trinidad
was scarier than any of the October 31st festivities.
We arrived by 8am,to begin our second day at the registry.
The first one was spent waiting for our test application to be approved.
Now approved, on our second day we signed in, and waited for our turn to take the big test.
The directions were very clear,
we had to answer with completely closed circles around the a, b, c, or d.
No erasing, no writing in the book, no more than two answers wrong.
We all obediently filed in and sat at the little wooden desks and got to work circling and not erasing; keeping in mind all our thoughts about traffic rules and signs had to be turned around in our heads before they got recorded in those perfect pencil circles because we now drive on the left side of the street, from the right side drivers seat.
Then we waited for the results to come in.
When the wait got long, some folks tried to expedite the process,
to no avail.
They will be done when they are done.
The rules are the rules.
So we waited some more,
After 3 hours of waiting, we got the results.
I hesitate to say which of these two characters got which of these two results.
Let’s just say those hand signal questions were pretty tricky.
But I will say that we both went on to the next room, and waited in another long line to pay our money, one for a Trinidadian Driver’s License, the other for a re-test.
Then we went into yet another room to wait to be called to get our photos taken. We opened the door expecting to see a camera, but what we actually saw was a room full of more people sitting and waiting. Once in a while, a door would open up and a woman would read off the next five or six lucky winners who got to stand up and go into the picture taking room. We could not figure out why it took so long in between picture taking sessions.
The recipients of their picture license emerged from the room long before the next group was called. Some of them walked out like lottery winners, so happy to finally have this laminated wallet accessory in their clutches, others were as stone faced as can be, maybe their smiles got frozen with all the waiting.
One brave soul came in to try to lighten the mood and put some coin in his pocket by offering a wide selection of flashlights for purchase.
He got one sale.
A woman next to us explained that if we were feeling impatient, we should feel lucky we live in the digital age. Back in the eighties apparently, you would go and sit in the picture-taking room until 24 people arrived. If less than that arrived before closing time, you had to go home and come back the next day, because they would not shoot less than a full roll of film.
The one of us who passed the test finally got called, and entered the final room, what seemed to be the center of this governmental labyrinth. The photographer was stern and exact with his specifications. Sit there. No, in the center of the chair. Move your knees to the left. Chin up. more. too much. Chin down. Turn head to the left. To the right. More, More, too far. By the time the camera was finally clicked, and the portrait emerged, any ounce of spirit left in the subject was elsewhere.
We think it may be hanging around somewhere warm, perhaps taking in a beautiful sunset.