What a week! We finally moved into our new home. WHAT A DIFFERENCE. No longer are we in the dark, musty, dirty house we moved into in August. Internet pictures obviously did not paint a true portrayal of that house and we are relieved to be out. My hubby felt like we were in a prison. Even the dog is obviously happier…
We now live on a hill and we have breezes, cooler temps and the house is surrounded with screened windows and doors so we can keep the ventilation running through the house. Our infinity pool is salt-water and fill with dirt and nastiness like the last house’s pool did. The hubby’s nephew has now come and gone as well as some friends of our from Florida who came down to visit. It was great seeing some people from “home” and going fishing with them while they were here.
Now to return to a sore subject…BANKING. As I have mentioned in previous weeks…banking here continues to be a challenge. The national bank was not too difficult to get an account opened and just required a few papers from our CPA and attorney. The account with the private bank took a little over a month to get opened. This private bank required everything except for blood and after it was opened, it took another week-plus to get online banking, etc. Well…..the saga continues.
Last week, I logged into online banking and the dang thing said we had “no productos” (products)….(accounts)….NOTHING. I thought, “Well, that’s funny. Because most of our money is in this bank. Online banking must be down.” Next day…same thing. SO..we trek back to the bank. (By the way, I think I have been INSIDE a bank branch more times in 3 months than I had been in 18 years of being a banker in the USA…) When we get to see “our girl”..I tell her my accounts “seem” to be gone. Well. YES. They ARE. Why? Well, because they need ANOTHER sheet of paper with my hubby’s signature on it that is similar to the by-laws of a corporation in the USA. They need a document saying he is the only one to sign on the business even though they have most of that already and the account has been open a month. No notice, no request, just froze our funds. So…another trip upstairs to the lawyers office to ask them to produce what I feel should have ALREADY been provided…and now we wait for the people in San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital and the bank headquarters) to approve and allow us to utilize our funds again. NICE. Between that bank and our attorney’s office…..grrrrrr.
We also did our first “border run” or “VISA run” this week. With a tourist VISA, you are required to exit the country every 90 days in order to renew your VISA. Once we have all of our business documents filed and completed, we will be applying for residency won’t have to exit. There are a number of companies that do regular “border runs” for the expats here on tourist VISAs. Hubby and I went as my daughter is headed back to the states on November 1 will use that to renew her VISA.
Well, the morning started with a flat tire. We were meeting the shuttle about 10 minutes from our home. When planning the night before, my suggestion was to leave 15-20 minutes prior to departure as my hubby is not a good “sit around and wait” kind of guy and I’m not a morning person (conversationally)…so the less time we stood in a parking lot waiting for a shuttle..the better. HOWEVER…as we left that morning, it was discovered we had a FLAT. GREAT. Especially for the “non-conversationalist” and the “one who wanted to leave extra early anyway”…So kudos to my daughter who dropped us off and took the car to the station to get the spare put on…
The drive to Nicaragua is beautiful once you pass the city of Liberia and looks very much like Jurassic Park. Wild palms and large wild ferns are everywhere. Orange, red, fuschia and yellow flowers are brilliant among the lush green foliage. Shrubs that look like small birds-of-paradise grow everywhere and everything looks so peaceful. The trees are magnificently huge and tower above the roads blanketing them with shade and greenery. As we approach Nicaragua’s border, there is a vehicle lane and a truck lane. There were MORE than sixty 18-wheeler trucks sitting along the highway waiting to get into Nicaragua. I cannot imagine how long they must sit just to cross into the country. When we arrive, we sit in the shuttle van while the driver takes our passports into an office to pay our exit tax for Costa Rica ($7). We then exit the van and walk to building to pay $2 (for something or another) to exit Costa Rica. We then walked along about a 100 yard stretch, passing vendors, military and people asking for money to provide you directions. Ahead is an old building housing Nicaragua immigration where you stand in line to lie to them that you are going to stay in their country for a number of days and then give them $12 to stamp your passport. After you exit the back of the building (and sending your bag/purse through a scanner)….let me interject….I may now wear a lot of shorts, sleeveless tops and flip flops…but I did keep 3 Kate Spade bags and a Coach bag …. Anyway, you exit the back of the building and re-enter the building 10 feet down to pay them another $2 for something and then stand in line to exit.
Here is where you are faced with (primarily in Spanish) the question, “how long were you in Nicaragua?” Which is a Catch-22 as you “supposedly were there/staying there 3-4 days” but your stamp is 15 minutes old… So I look at the guy and just grin. He says to me, “you just came for stamp?” which I honestly answer. Then they want to know your occupations before letting you out. Hubby answers that he is a BMW engineer. I told them my occupation was esposa…spouse. The immigration guy laughed. I then told him (IN SPANISH!) that it was a difficult job and that my husband was mean. (Of course, my husband didn’t understand a word of this…so I did explain it to him, as hindsight made me fear that the immigration people would believe me and cart my husband off somewhere..). Thankfully, we leave with our stamps to walk back along the wired fences to enter Costa Rica again. I felt like those pictures of Syrian refugees that were all over the news a year or so ago. There were a lot of people: buses of people, individuals dragging suitcases, all kinds of people. We were all walking from one country to another in a basic, existential yet purposeful way. At the Costa Rican border (we are now entering on the other side of THAT building), we stand in a line similar to what you see at amusement parks and wait to get stamped back in. At the immigration counter, they want to know what we do, how long we are staying, where we are going, etc. It’s basically a lot of bulls*#* where you have to bull*#* to get where you need to be. You also have to show a ticket of some sort that you are exiting within 90 days.
It’s crazy what stuff has to be done aside from just “running your business”. I think of all of my previous small business owner banking customers and how much I felt like I understood their hardships, thoughts and processes. As a lender for 18+ years, I felt very sympathetic and, at times, even empathetic to their struggles from my experience working with so many small businesses. I was WRONG. There is a whole different dimension to understanding the trials and tribulations such as…where is business going to continue to come from? where did these additional costs come from? how do I make payroll? why is the bank so difficult (LOL)? how do I set myself apart from the competition? Kudos to all of you I thought I understood before….