I can still hear my dad's voice singing that old song by Music Machine, Have Patience. It was Herbert the snail who would sing in a deep slow voice:
Have patience, have patience don't be in such a hurry. When you get impatient you only start to worry. Remember, remember that God is patient too. And think of all the times when others have to wait for you.
This song came flooding back to me the other day as we were trying to register our car. One of the messages I have heard many times from people here in Croatia is to be prepared for things to take a long time. As you may have heard a couple weeks ago we purchased a car and we are learning first hand that things can take time here. To give you a little taste here was the process of purchasing the car.
Purchasing a Car Phase 1:
- Meet the seller at a car repair shop. (we found the Croatian equivalent of craigslist and found a guy who sells cars and met him at some repair shop)
- From there we travelled to a bank to figure out how to wire the money to the seller.
- As we wire the money we had plenty of time for a coffee at the cafe that was conveniently right next to the bank.
- Then with proof of payment in hand we drove to a javni bilježnik (notary public) where a contract of the sale was filled out by the seller's wife (it was registered in her name) and signed by the notary public.
- After a lot of signing and paying people to stamp the contract we hopped back in the car to go to the insurance company and make sure we had a temporary insurance card.
All of this was done on the first day. After the purchase I was informed that I had fifteen days to pay the tax on the vehicle and also register it with the police.
* Important Note: this whole time we have been helped by a couple named Sean and Neissa. They have been here in Croatia for 4 years and have translated for us and helped out so much. As a matter of fact they were even willing to register the car in their name since we don't have residency here yet. By default though it means that Sean has had to accompany me every step of the way. To say he has been amazing is an understatement.
Purchasing a Car Phase 2:
- We went to the tax office to pay the tax and we were told the computers were down and to come back after the weekend.
- We came back on Monday morning. System was still down.
- Tuesday and Wednesday we called first. Finally on Thursday we were able to go in.
- To pay the tax on the vehicle you go to the tax office and they look at the contract and issue you a bill to pay. However, you cannot pay it there you must go to the post office to pay.
- We walk to the post office where the line is almost out the door. We pay the bill.
- Back to the tax office where we show proof that the bill has been paid and she stamps the contract and gives us everything we need to take to the police station.
- We walk to the police station now to register the vehicle.
- After speaking with the lady we apparently didn't have enough copies of a certain document so we had to walk to the library to have them photocopied. Also there were additional tax stamps that the police station needed because we were foreigners.
- We walk to the library and get the copies made. This was probably the easiest part of the entire process.
- We walk to post office to pay for the additional tax stamps.
- Meanwhile the paid parking had run out so I went to get the car while Sean ran the remaining paperwork into the police station.
- When he handed the lady everything her reply was, "Oh, you're American! There are additional tax stamps that are needed. I thought you were part of EU."
- This meant we had to go back to post office to buy more tax stamps!
- When we returned to the police station the entire office was on a break!
- Sean and I sat in the car and laughed (one of those "this is frustrating and taking way longer than we thought but what do you do" kind of laughs)
- Finally we got the car registered and received new license plates.
- Lastly we went to the insurance company to receive our updated insurance cards.
- I dropped of Sean, thanked him profusely and then picked up Amber who had been stranded in the rain after walking one of our kids to school.
Just another day in Croatia.
As I shared this story with an American man who has been in Croatia for 7 years he said, "Not to burst your bubble but multiply that by ten and you've got normal life here in Croatia."
So in conclusion we are learning that things happen at a different pace here and it has been a great opportunity for growing in patience.