Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ham License, La Paz, BCS Mexico

Some things just take a while.

Mexico is one of the few countries that does not automatically grant reciprocal privileges for Radio Amateurs. So, I do some research on line and download a license application.  I print two copies and collect the other relevant documents that are needed.

I discover that the address I have does not show up on the tourist map that I have, so the next day, I ask around and I'm assured that the SCT office is just off the map to the North.

The following day, I get a late start and head to the SCT office on the North end of La Paz.  As in the US, government offices are located in the low rent (i.e. not next to the marina) part of town.  It's about a 25 minute bike ride to get there.  This is complicated by the fact that only about every fifth street is marked with a street name and by the fact that the address I have is actually incorrect.

Eventually, I zero in on a building with lots of antennas.  This is the place, but it's 4:30 in the afternoon.  The guard doesn't speak English, but he finds someone who does, and I'm left to believe that the office that I'm looking for will re-open at 5:00.  This doesn't seem too strange, since many places around town close for siesta and stay open late.  The English speaker gets in a car and drives off.  I wait until a few minutes after 5:00 and walk in.  I learn that no, the radio license office is actually closed for the day and that they are open from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

The next morning seems to get consumed with tasks around the boat, but I ride back up to the SCT office about noon.  I show the application that I had downloaded from the internet to the nice woman in the office, and she begs for a copy.  It turns out that my copy is much better than her forms which have been copied over and over.  I gladly give her my spare copy.  I learn that it will take 3 weeks for the license request to be processed because it has to go to Mexico city and back.  As I don't plan on being in La Paz for that long and don't yet have an address that I can use in three weeks, I decide to postpone my application.  At this point, I actually consider not bothering with the license (or using the radio on the Ham bands for that matter)

Several days later, we have made a reservation at the marina in La Cruz (near Puerto Vallarta) and they have agreed that I can receive mail there.  Once again, I gather up all my documents, hop on the bike and pedal up to the SCT office.  The same nice woman helps me with my application, then hands be another form.

In Mexico, it seems that most government office do not accept payment.  You must go to the bank and make a deposit directly to the government account.  This is also true for immigration and customs, but we've used an agent for that up until now.  I pedal my bike to the heart of downtown (high rent) where all the banks are concentrated and find the Banamex office.  Inside, I take a number and take a seat in the lobby.  This seems much more civilized than standing in a long line, but I can't help but think of the long waits at the driver's license agency in Seattle.  My number comes up quickly, and I am efficiently processed, my form is stamped, and I'm given a receipt for my generous donation to the Mexican government.

I pedal back to the SCT office one last time.  The nice woman gives me a receipt which shows that I have paid for a Ham License and informs me that, with this in hand, I can start using my radio now; I don't have to wait for the actual license to arrive in the mail.  My call sign will be XF1-KF7EJD.

Two days later, I actually go to make a call on the radio and discover that the antenna tuner isn't tuning.  I guess tomorrow's boat project will be fixing the tuner . . . .


1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't have worried about it.
    About 75% of the boats down there are using HAM bands. In the three years we were there we NEVER heard of anyone with a problem.
    Welcome to Mexican officialdom.
    In La Cruz there is a Captain de Puerto right next to the marina, to get your exit papers from Mexico, another form, you need to go to PV next to cruise ship terminal, the bus from La Cruz will drop you off with in a block of the office. But you still have a lot of nights in Philos and Anna Bannana's, enjoy some ribs for me.