Yesterday we went downtown to pick up a package that the post office held because “the weight of arrival didn’t match the weight when it was sent” and “the package looks wet.” Ok… so because of that I have to come all the way downtown to pick it up? For the record, the package was fine, it was a lovely purse from Target, peanut butter graham cracker cookies and other items of interest to a woman from the US living in UY. I digress.
In the 3 minutes I was illegally parked on Calle Misiones in front of the post office a meter maid was onto us. I could have taken this for a coincidence and moved on–after all, I was illegally parked and they were just doing their jobs. So, I moved the car a few blocks away where a kid offers to help me with the parking situation.
Turns out he wasn’t much help.
We came back to our car after a short trip back up the street to the post office where there were 2 cops arguing vociferously with a man who has gone to pay for parking and in the meantime has been ticketed and has had his wheel clamped. I owe a few pesos to this man because he was parked behind me and his arguing held off the cops long enough to let me get out of there before they stamped a giant yellow wheel lock on my car too.
I raced to gather the family and we jumped into the car and zoom off while the kid who was supposed to help us looked on guiltily (fortunately we hadn’t paid him anything yet) and the cops stare at the back of our vehicle waving their fists in the air shouting “I’l get you next time!!” (Ok, that last part is an exaggeration)
Apparently to legally park:
- You find a spot to park.
- Make sure it has a long enough time limit. This is indicated by letters. You should be able to intuit that an A means 2 hours, B means 5 etc.
- Make sure it’s within the hours you can park there (and that you’re not in a free parking time of day)
- Make sure it’s not the one day of the month (which is different each month) where parking is free downtown
- Buy a “Ficha” from randomly dispersed, apparently hidden locations around town. Fichas cost–from my admittedly unreliable source of information–about 25 pesos each.
- You insert the ficha into a parking meter–these are also unreliably dispersed around city blocks. A ficha gives you some undetermined amount of time to park. I think it’s usually 1/2 hour.
- You take the ticket from the parking meter (which is huge, unlike US parking meters) and stick it inside your car window.
- Make sure you’re back in before the time limit for the space and the meter expire.
In reality it seems to be that most people hope there’s a “parking guy” there with fichas in hand who you give 100 pesos to, leave your window cracked and let him feed the meter for you while you’re gone, hoping that he actually does this and is around to give you change when you get back. My advice? Take a taxi 🙂