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I’ll admit it. Somewhere in the changing of homes from point A to point OMG, I love my new apartment, I lost my driver’s license. I remember having it the day I was going to sign my lease, and then leaving it somewhere (oh where?!) in favor of my carnet, which I needed for legal purposes with the lease.

I puzzled. I turned everything upside down. I even used my mother’s trick of turning a glass upside-down and putting a knife on top to see if it would appear. Answer: No. I turned things over and over again, and came to the conclusion that in fact, I had lost my license.

Now, I don’t generally drive. In fact, that’s a terrible overstatement. I don’t drive at all. But for reasons known mainly to the Smith clan and which I will not go into detail about here, during a trip I will make in the coming month to the states, it would be good (for some, if not all), if I could get behind the wheel and hit go. I understand they like you to have a license to do that. And I used to have a Chilean one. And it was a giant struggle to get it, which involved great gnashing of teeth and incredulity that I had to prove that I’d graduated from the eighth grade, and no, showing my law school diploma would not suffice, and oh, I was angry, like pre-decaffeination angry. It seems I never wrote up the story, a shame, for sure. Trust me, it was ugly. And I mean feo.

Anyway, so, driver’s license lost, canna find. What’s a girl to do? A girl is to follow the following gazillion steps.

1. Find appropriate website using the words “Santiago, lost driver’s license” (in Spanish). Discover that the website does not tell you what to do if you have lost your license.

2. Call the number on the website to see what you need to replace the DL. Corroborate that yes, despite my accent, it is a Chilean DL I am replacing. (Answer, paper from the notary, paper from the police station, photocopy of carnet, front and back, patience, and a buncha cash).

3. Go to a notary to get some piece of paper that swears that I am replacing my license because I lost it, and not because it was taken from me due to a moving violation, etc. Actually, I have no idea what the paper said. I arrived, took a number, and said, I lost my DL, there’s some paper I need to fill out. This took about 5 minutes, and cost 2,000 CLP (about four dollars).

4. Go to the police station and file a paper there swearing that I had lost my driver’s license (not sure how this differs from the first paper). This would have taken 10 minutes except the guy typed my name wrong, despite holding my carnet at the time he was typing. Free!

5. Make a photocopy of your carnet, back and front. 100 pesos (overcharged!).

6. Bike over bright and early to the Transportation Authority building, painted a mustard yellow, and stand in line with all the other folks who have license issues or some court-related issue to deal with. (this office is open from 8:30 to 11:30 AM).

7. Run to the back right of the building to get to the place where they give out the number.

8. Wait for the guy with the numbers to put the coil of numbers into the machine, while the guy behind you chants “numerito, numerito” (little number, little number).

9. Listen to announcement reiterating what you need for most license issues, including making photocopies, and there’s a person with a photocopier right outside. Watch several number-waiters run away to make requisite copies.

10. Take a number and wait.

11. Go up when your number is called, but find out you can only go to window 5 for your particular issue. Perch by window 5 making the “this much” sign with your fingers to mean I need to talk to you for a second to explain to the woman that she should see you next (if she is busy with another customer).

12. Go to window 5, give the person (probably a woman) your carnet, your two hard-won pieces of paper and the photocopy. Get a chit to take to the cashier to pay for your idiocy (price: 10,810 (about $22 US, ouch).

13. Pay the fee. Here I screwed up and waited on the wrong cashier’s line. I suggest you skip this step, and would like to imagine that I skipped it myself.

14. Get called for a photo.

15. Discuss how the lighting is wrong for someone as pale as myself. Take a couple of photos and tell the guy to have a nice day.

16. Wait 45 minutes.

17. Get called to window 1 to sign a piece of paper (your future license) twice, one time very, very small.

18. Wait 35 minutes

19. Hear your name called and pick up your license.

20. Wrap it in gold cloth and bury it in your cactus/yard so you never lose it again. Some snark intended.

Celebrate Bureaucracy!