The busy season continues (yeah!) and we are very thankful that we missed the coldest temperatures in many years that hit the eastern U.S. In the 30 years I lived in Virginia, it NEVER got as cold as it did this year. We did have a bit of rain here in the past week which is NOT “common” for this time of year, although not a phenomenon. This is still the season of the Papagayo winds which brings wind gusts up to 30+ knots and we have had to cancel a few charters due to the weather.
My love of some of the banks (or lack thereof) has not totally changed. Let me tell you what I miss—-ATM’s that accept cash deposits. DANG. As I have explained before, when going to the bank , you get a ticket number (similar to the meat counter at Fresh Market or at the DMV). Currently, we have a relationship with 2 banks. One of them (BAC), the lines are usually not too long, but their ATM’s don’t always have cash. BAC allows you the largest cash withdrawal of all of the other banks so I prefer their ATMs. In addition, our payroll is run through this bank. I don’t really mind going to BAC anymore although this was the hardest bank to establish a relationship with initially.
Our other bank is BCR (Banco de Costa Rica). I believe this is the bank that is most popular with the locals. It is not unusual to go to the bank, be given a number by the guard (who won’t let you inside if the bank is full), and wait outside for an extended period. There are 4 cajas (teller stations) in BCR and usually only 2 are operating. Inside the bank, there are about 12 chairs in the lobby and they blow the A/C on FREEZING COLD while you wait. That is, until they will turn it completely off. The A/C will then stay off until it smells like a locker room and then the guard will turn it back on to freeze you out again. The last time I went to the local BCR, they were serving number 67. My number was 94. Yep. 94. I waited over an hour just to make a deposit. When they called my number, my complete transaction was under 2 minutes. I absolutely DESPISE going to this bank. Hubby and I had to go to a BCR branch in Liberia last week which was MUCH MORE efficient…and comical. This branch was not using their ticket kiosk. The branch is about twice the size of the one in Tamarindo. We walked in and saw the people sitting in the chairs and took a seat. I had no idea what “the system” was, but we sat and waited. Then we figured out that when a station opened…you moved up a chair. It went MUCH faster (due to more workers), but it was like playing musical chairs. Every few seconds or minutes, you jumped up to sit down. ….So why were we at THIS branch????…
We got a phone call last week from the previous owner who happened to be in Liberia (it’s the “major” city near here where many of the government offices are, airport, “good stores”, etc. He called to tell us he had the bills for our boat taxes that were due and happy to bring them to us. What? Boat taxes due? When? Yep…they are due NOW. Love the forewarning and the help that I suppose the closing attorney and CPA don’t help to prepare. This is the process: travel to Liberia to the Hacienda (government office); get a 4 copy document (complete with carbon papers) of your Impuestas Factura (tax bill); take the tax bill to a BCR branch and pay them on the SAME DAY you receive your bill; fax/scan a copy of the bill back to the Hacienda…SAME DAY. If all of this is not completed in the same day, return another day for a new bill. The bills are dated with current taxes due. If you wait a day, you accrue additional interest and apparently no one can calculate a per diem…..
Not knowing ALL of these details, hubby goes to the previous owner’s house that afternoon to get the paperwork and other some other business things. At about 3:45pm, hubby is told…”oh yeah, these bills HAVE to be paid today.” So, hubby rushes to the bank which closes at 4:00pm and arrives at 4:02pm…so can’t get in. Therein, is the reason we had to drive (about an hour drive) to Liberia to get another copy to pay on that date. The things we are still having to learn…..
When you move to another country you make a lot of observations and comparisons. Many prove to be significant learning lessons. The things I thought I would “need” while here…haven’t been so “needed”. I wish I could have truly understood that before coming. I am rarely out of flip flops and shorts. I never wear my hair down. I rarely wear any type of make-up. The pieces of furniture we brought because I “hated to let them go” have proven insignificant in a country whose housing is almost always “pre-furnished”. The make-up, the toiletries, some of the clothes….but how do you get rid of EVERYTHING?
When I first arrived, I viewed some of the locals here as “poor souls” who must struggle at a living. I was wrong. Yes, some people struggle and need help (as anywhere) but some of the people who “appear” to live in an impoverished style are not poor at all. Sometimes I think we have had it all wrong…at least in my eyes. Many of the Costa Ricans have everything they need. They do not live like “kings” but they have everything they need. They are devout, loving people who are dedicated to God and their families. Their families are units that function as a whole. They have a roof over their heads, food, education, healthcare and transportation (for some it is a scooter, horse, bicycle or by foot). They have everything they need and, as a whole, are not an unhappy culture. I often wonder if the reason that so many are unhappy living in the more developed cultures is because they don’t have everything they want.
I have been a contributor and player in this ugly cycle of want and continue to listen to my US friends and family still speak of the things they “need” to get their kids and what else they need to “buy” for their kids. “I only got them this 1 significant gift and they need SOMETHING else because I can’t just get them only one thing”…or “their friend had a great party, I HAVE to do SOMETHING”…often at the parents’ detriment. Who are we benefiting in these situations? The kids/friends/whoever that didn’t really “NEED” this? The parent(s) who exhaust their funds trying to please them? People all over the world are talking about the masses of young people who no longer respect so many things and the young “entitled” behaviors. And we wonder why….. Here, you see the children running around playing with each other, no cell phones or iPads in hand (or in an inattentive parent’s hands). The kids are expected to help their parents DAILY with chores and jobs. They all seem so much happier. I am not trying to stereotype EVERYONE into these 2 categories, but it IS an observation I have made between living in a country as grand, sophisticated and accessible as the US and living in a 3rd world country. The problems of the masses…yep…we created.
On that same note, living in a situation such as ours (new owners of a seasonal business in a 3rd world country), some other perceptions have really come to light. After spending 10 years as a single mom, it was sometimes hard to swallow when my hubby would look at certain things and refer to them as “cheap” and they were…I don’t know…$100 or so. I lost the concept of “cheap” when I was a single mom. What some deemed as “cheap”…I considered “potentially affordable”. But since married, we have shopped for various things and it was always funny what he found “cheap” (also based on how bad he did or didn’t want it). Well….we are now back to living like our 20’s!! Remember when you DID look at the price tag of EVERYTHING to determine whether affordable or not? Yep…we are living like our 20s. Two reasons for this: 1) we moved here in the off-season so have spent 4 months spending without much income 2) some things here are NOT affordable due to the fact they were imported. I always wished I could live like I was young again….be careful of what you wish for….LOL.
And lastly…along with the winds coming in and the rains waning, the humidity has also plummeted…which originally, I was looking forward to. Well….welcome to hag hair.